Several Colorado counties and towns voted overwhelmingly Nov. 4 in support of efforts to improve broadband in the state.
As we reported earlier, the towns of Boulder, Cherry Hills Village, Red Cliff, Wray and Yuma were all seeking to override a 2005 state law that prohibits them from constructing or operating broadband or telecommunications infrastructure or services. That law, SB05-152 [.pdf], which was pushed by large telecommunications companies, can be overridden by a majority of voters.
Rio Blanco and Yuma Counties also had similar measures on the ballot that would have the effect of allowing those counties to get in the broadband game. All of these overrides passed handily, with margins of 70 percent or more in favor of giving authority to local governments to improve broadband access.
Many Colorado towns have struggled to get affordable high-speed Internet, a service which has become a necessity almost akin to electricity or water, particularly for rural areas seeking to attract businesses in the service economy.
"There's so many stories of, I would love to move to Red Cliff, but you don't have a good internet connection. And so it is hampering our ability to grow as a town," said Red Cliff mayor Scott Burgess, who is working to provide better broadband in his rural town.
In an email, Blake Mobley, the Rio Blanco County IT director, announced that the "Rio Blanco County broadband project got another large boost yesterday during the elections."
Mobely is heading up the effort to significantly improve broadband .
"Our ultimate goal is to drive price down and drive service up for our county."
He said in rural areas municipalities are taking the issue of high-speed broadband into their own hands.
"As with much of rural America, if you wait for the large incumbents like CenturyLink and so on to come in, you may wait indefinitely."
Now that the overrides have passed, municipalities will move forward – in many cases in a variety of ways – on improving Internet access for their residents.