Municipal Broadband

Most Americans access the Internet through a private company. Think Comcast and CenturyLink. But like water, electricity and telephone service, the broadband utility is provided in some communities by the local government. In some areas where service is not offered, is too expensive or slow, communities have come together to offer higher speeds at lower costs. High-speed Internet can bring jobs to rural towns, allow rural residents to telecommute to large cities, and keep rural students on par with the growth of computer literacy in urban areas. And in the Internet age, civic participation increasingly happens online. Being part of our democracy means having high speed internet access.

In the race to connect as many Americans as possible, private and public networks should be deployed. But Colorado made it illegal in 2005 for communities to create their own broadband networks without jumping through hoops. Creation of municipal broadband networks requires voter approval. In the City of Longmont, it took the community two tries to pass a ballot measure allowing a municipal broadband network because telecommunications interests spent heavily to defeat it. Limits to municipal broadband are nothing more than protection laws for the telecommunications industry. Under current law, even public/private partnerships unopposed by industry must be put to a vote. The City of Centennial voted to pass a public/private partnership in November 2013.

In addition to employing every possible strategy for providing access to cheap high speed Internet, including municipal broadband, local governments should have the freedom to create their own networks, without obstacles created by the state.

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