With Voter Approval for Municipal Broadband, Colorado City Asks Citizens How to Proceed

On Nov. 7, 61 percent of Greeley voters chose to give the city a chance to set up its own broadband service.

by Tyler Silvy, Greeley Tribune / November 30, 2017

(TNS) — Brian Sullivan spent the first few minutes of an hour-long community input session on city-wide broadband Internet service answering questions, basically, like this: "That's up to you."

Sixty-one percent of Greeley residents who voted chose to give the city the opportunity to set up its own broadband service Nov. 7. So it was natural that many felt there was already a plan in place.

There's not. The vote this past election was simply about allowing Greeley to explore the options, which is why Sullivan, from Greeley's information technology department, was there Wednesday evening, at the Greeley Recreation Center, 651 10th Ave., hosting an input session to hear from residents.

He had heard from the University of Northern Colorado and Aims Community College and Greeley-Evans School District 6 and some major employers in Greeley.

For the 20 or so residents there, this was their opportunity to give input. After a little while, they did.

Some wanted Greeley to mirror the Longmont model, where the city has its own broadband service and where more than 50 percent of the homes there have signed up for the city's service.

Others wanted a public-private partnership. Most wanted better — more reliable, more cost effective — Internet service, however that comes about.

It's possible, and Colorado is already seeing this, that private Internet providers like Comcast will start getting the message, increasing speeds and making big splashes in response to the rise of city-run Internet in the state. It has already rolled out a high-speed package, but it's still more expensive than Longmont's service.

Nearly 80 municipalities in Colorado have opted out of a 2005 state statute that prohibits cities from offering their own Internet service. Some, like Longmont, and Fort Collins this year, have gone all out in spending hundreds of millions of dollars on infrastructure to offer their own services.

Will Greeley go that route? It depends. The city is engaged in a joint feasibility study with Windsor, which should be presented to the Greeley City Council this spring.

©2017 the Greeley Tribune (Greeley, Colo.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.