Colorado Makes It Easier for Towns to Build Their Own Internet

In 2009, Longmont, Colorado, faced pushback from the cable TV industry when it proposed building faster internet service. The measure failed due to the industry’s strong opposition. However, in 2011, Longmont succeeded in passing a similar measure with the support of a citizen’s group and the publicity of Google Fiber. Other towns and counties in Colorado also opted out of a state law that required permission from voters to build municipal internet.

Earlier this year, Colorado repealed the referendum requirement, opening the way for communities to improve broadband access. The change was driven by the recognition that broadband is now essential, particularly highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government’s infrastructure package and broadband funding further contributed to the momentum for change. Colorado’s repeal of the law allows communities to access federal grants for improving broadband. The success of municipal internet in Colorado has led other communities to consider it as a viable option, and they are interested in accessing the available funds.