Residents in Colorado give BigTel the finger, vote for city-run broadband

By Cal Jeffrey · 15 replies
Nov 9, 2017
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  1. Tuesday’s polling was not just about politicians being voted in or out. There were also plenty of referenda on the ballots that voters got to pass or nix.

    In Fort Collins, Colorado, citizens were asked to approve or decline a measure that would allow the city to create a city-run broadband utility to provide Internet services. The official results show Ballot Question 2B passing with over 57 percent of the vote.

    The passage of the measure does not require that the city council create the utility but instead gives it the option to do so and authorizes it to enter into partnerships with private companies to get it done. The Coloradoan reports that the council is leaning toward building a fiber network and has already scheduled a work session for later in the month to discuss how to move forward with the plan.

    The adoption of 2B was a huge slap in the face to Comcast and other big-telecom special interests that lobbied against the measure.

    “I was very encouraged with the passage today, and particularly with the headwinds of incumbents trying to misinform the electorate,” said Mayor Wade Troxell. “And also, I was very disappointed in the (Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce) playing an active role in misinformation. I think there is some accountability that has to come out post-election.”

    Telecoms campaigned against the proposal through the local political group Priorities First Fort Collins and the Chamber of Commerce. The group reportedly spent $451,564 opposing the measure. That total is 50 times what grassroots efforts spent supporting 2B.

    The Fort Collins Citizens Broadband Committee only spent a little over $9,000 promoting the ballot question, mostly through social media.

    “The city could do a better job of delivering fast and affordable Internet service than private service currently available in the city,” the group maintained.

    Local business owner Bob Carnahan said, “This to me is the tip of the iceberg when we have such a population in this country that believes bigger government is better government.”

    Bigger government is not always the best solution to a problem. However, there is a widespread issue of big telecoms coming into an area and buying up local providers, then providing sub-standard service to customers at premium prices only because they have no other competition in the area. In this particular instance, a governmental solution might be the best answer, especially considering that Fort Collins residents are not happy with the current service being provided.

    Chattanooga, Tennessee, was in a similar situation last spring, only to have the state step in and forbid the will of the people. Fort Collins residents can only hope that special interests don't petition the state to subvert their wishes as well.

    Permalink to story.

     
  2. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,734   +643

    Time to move to Ft. Collins! :)
     
    Theinsanegamer and Reehahs like this.
  3. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,245   +414

    Based on the very last sentence I think a better approach would be to wait and see.
     
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  4. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,734   +643

    Well, I guess that will depend on the political polarity of CO.
     
    cliffordcooley, Reehahs and Lionvibez like this.
  5. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,909   +1,107

    Oh god, I hope the state doesn't step in and quash this. You know it's bad when your constituents vote for something and then you go and ignore that anyways to screw them.
     
    wiyosaya likes this.
  6. Hexic

    Hexic TS Maniac Posts: 322   +155

    Bigger government is better government?

    History repeats itself time after time because of that erraneous recursive loop of thinking.

    “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
     
  7. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,909   +1,107

    Yes, when your only other choice is a monopoly, government run Internet isn't so bad. Big business is worse than big government.
     
    senketsu and wiyosaya like this.
  8. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 1,796   +1,202

    It depends: do you want higher prices or higher taxes? In the first instance the consumer usually has some power to protest, while in the latter case people almost never have a say. I've even seen ballot levies fail only to have a city or state go right and ahead and ram them through by governmental fiat. However, the situation of cable and telecom in general across the US is clearly a monopolistic one, and that's almost never good for the average citizen. This is one of those instances where government actually *can* make a positive difference *if* the private companies the city works with aren't sources of personal revenue for the local officials. Yet another pitfall of public-private partnerships are the high levels of cronyism that usually creep in.
     
  9. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,734   +643

    In my area, this same sort of thing is under consideration. The one thing is that the county laid a bunch of fiber that is 70-percent dark at the moment. It was laid all at taxpayer expense. As I understand it, they are considering opening that up to the public at very low cost.

    I agree about the private companies. If the main provider in our area, TW, is replaced by a company that is no better, then things are not likely to improve.

    Even if the public fiber is not approved, there is a company laying fiber in our area which will bring competition for TW. Also, if the public fiber is approved and even if it is controlled by a government arm, I imagine that it would mean competition for TW and that, as I see it, would be a good thing. In most areas, as I understand it, companies like TW have worked to entrench themselves. If something like this brings competition, the end result may turn out to be positive.

    Why Chattanooga went the way they did is beyond me - other than the companies in that area lining the pockets of the politicians, or perhaps a complete lack of understanding on the part of the politicians.
     
  10. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,734   +643

    Actually, I don't think anyone is saying big govt is better govt. What this implies, as I see it, is competition for the entrenched companies.
     
    Cal Jeffrey likes this.
  11. Shotgunnner

    Shotgunnner TS Rookie

    Cant wait until the city decides which websites it wants you to see and which ones they want to block.
     
    TheBigT42 likes this.
  12. TheBigT42

    TheBigT42 TS Addict Posts: 136   +72

    If governments would just allow cable companies to compete with each other across all markets the service and pricing would be much better.
     
  13. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,909   +1,107

    Allot of the times the government is the one paying for the lines being laid. I used to work as a contractor for verizon and the government was paying them to lay fiber in Vermont. Not only did they essentially get those lines for free, they also got ownership of them. The only requirement for Verizon was to expand their network to cover x percentage of the state, something they failed to do in many states, like NY who is currently suing them. It should be obvious that in a capitalistic system, something so essential should not be left solely to the free market. If you need it, they will charge.
     
  14. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,734   +643

    I am pretty sure that the company that laid the fiber is the small company laying fiber in the area. However,
    AFAIK, no one outside of govt has access to it at this time. One portion of that loop runs about 6-houses down the street from my house. I drool every time I drive by there. LOL
     
  15. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,909   +1,107

    Yeah, it really depends on the area. Allot of the time companies like verision will contract a bunch of smaller companies to do it for them. It keeps the cost down although you usually got allot of inexperienced guys this way and coordination is a pain. Not that it's any skin off their bones, when someone messes up they are the one's loosing out money for that box / juncture they were responsible for.
     
  16. roberthi

    roberthi TS Booster Posts: 199   +44

    In my town they did just this. They laid fiber, a good portion of which was dark, so they lease it to a lesser known telecom company who manages the end-user equipment and provides service to the community for a cheaper price than most. It's synchronous 1Gbps, supposedly. All I know is that it's much faster than what I had by a great multitude and lag is a thing of the past for us. Plus...we're saving money.
     

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