Colorado Voters Toss Restrictive Laws, Vote In Favor Of Allowing Municipal Broadband

Publicly-owned broadband networks can be a great alternative to incumbent ISPs like Comcast and AT&T in towns where there’s no competition, or in areas that existing providers don’t want to serve at all. Incumbent ISPs tend to like their pervasive monopoly status, though, and so they support and bankroll protectionist laws that prohibit municipalities from launching their own networks.

Happily, since this Tuesday’s election day, there are now fewer of those restrictive laws on the books.

Voters in municipalities across Colorado this week overwhelmingly chose to say no to the state’s 2005 law blocking the expansion of municipal broadband, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance reports. 44 different towns, cities, and counties had measures on their ballots regarding local authority of telecommunications services, and all of them passed by large margins, gaining between 70% and 93% of votes.

Local officials told media that for their communities, the votes are critically important. Their networks are mainly in rural or spread-out areas that profit-driven ISPs have no real motivation to spend money on connecting, maintaining, upgrading, or improving.

The votes don’t mean that all 44 Colorado communities are about to run out and start their own gigabit fiber projects immediately or anything. They do, however, give those communities the legal ability to do so in the future, should they so choose.

Voters Quiet the Drums At the Polls in Colorado [MuniNetworks via DSL Reports]