More Colorado Communities Vote To Toss Restrictive State Law, Explore Municipal Broadband

Image courtesy of Great Beyond

Colorado is one of the 20 states with some kind of industry-friendly, public-network-blocking law on the books. But in this state, there’s a catch: instead of being blocked altogether, state law prevents communities from running service unless local voters specifically authorize it first.

And authorizing it seems to be something Colorado voters are more than happy to do.

Last November, Colorado voters in 44 cities, towns, or counties absolutely overwhelmingly voted to approve measures supporting local authority of telecom services, in some cases winning over 90% of votes.

During local elections this week, another nine communities had muni broadband measures on their ballots — and once again, those measures were met with overwhelming popularity.

The Denver Business Journal reports that as of today, results are in for eight of those nine areas, and in every single one voters approved, by large margins, proposals permitting local authorities to start exploring the possibility of providing broadband services.

That doesn’t mean these communities are necessarily getting new networks, of course. They are largely small and/or rural communities, and wiring those up is complicated and costly — two big reasons that incumbent private providers leave would-be consumers hanging. But at least they can come up with a plan if they want to, now, which is more than they could do before the election.

Meanwhile, the futures of the state laws themselves are a bit up in the air right now. Last year the FCC voted to pre-empt state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that prevented cities from expanding existing, successful local networks. The states appealed, as you might expect, and oral arguments for that case only just took place last month, so any final ruling is still months away.

Colorado towns vote overwhelmingly for municipal broadband internet [Denver Business Journal via DSL Reports]

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