The municipal broadband movement got a boost in Colorado as residents in 26 cities and towns and 17 counties voted to overturn a law that limited local communities from building a broadband business even in areas where incumbent telcos and cable operators have refused to upgrade facilities.
While there are over two dozen states that have laws on the books limiting local government from offering broadband services -- a number of which have been driven by the local cable operators and telcos like Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and AT&T (NYSE: T) -- Colorado's law stands out from other states.
Under the 2005 state law, a municipality can build their own broadband network if "an election shall be called" and a majority of voters approve it.
The majority of voters supported local measures with over 70 percent of ballots cast. The ballot measure passed overwhelmingly in all 43 cities and counties where voters considered it.
Among some of the areas were Durango where over 90 percent of voters chose to opt out of restrictive SB 152. Likewise, Telluride voters affirmed their commitment to local authority when over 93 percent of votes supported measure 2B.
A call to repeal restrictions on municipal broadband is not relegated just to Colorado. Similar initiatives have been called for in North Carolina and Tennessee, for example
In February, the FCC moved to preempt elements of state laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that were designed to restrict municipal providers in these communities from providing broadband service outside of their current serving areas. This move could drive other states to act and could result in court challenges.
Meanwhile, a group of mayors from New Haven, West Hartford and Stamford, Conn., have come together in hopes of creating a 1 Gbps-capable open access fiber-to-the-premises network for the state.
Colorado communities band together to eliminate municipal broadband restrictions
Seven Colorado cities get green light to build municipal broadband networks
Baltimore mulls its own municipal broadband plan
Connecticut mayors make call for 1 Gig broadband open access network
Republicans rail against FCC Chairman Wheeler's municipal-broadband proposals
Fiber hunter: How to improve Internet access by digging up forgotten fiber lines
Longmont, Colo., employs Calix for its 1 Gbps FTTH network
This article was updated on Nov. 5 to reflect that it was 26 communities that made the vote.