Colorado Municipalities Vote to Take Back Control of Broadband

Voters in several region municipalities opted out of a 2005 state law that restricted local governments from helping bring high-speed communications technology to more rural areas.

by Matt Steiner, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) / November 10, 2016

(TNS) -- High-speed Internet was among the hot issues presented to Colorado voters on Tuesday.

Voters in more than 20 local municipalities chose to take back control and potentially help bring broadband Internet service to rural areas.

Voters in several Pikes Peak region municipalities went to the polls Tuesday and chose to opt out of a 2005 state law that restricted local governments from helping bring high-speed communications technology to more rural areas. Among those were Cripple Creek, Green Mountain Falls, Victor, Woodland Park and Teller and El Paso counties.

More than 20 municipalities voted Tuesday to reclaim local communications authority. That group joins more than 50 others that opted out of the legislation in recent years.

When asked why the almost 8,000 person Teller County city that already has fiber-optic Internet service would need to ask voters to opt out, Jane Mannon, Woodland Park's special projects manager, said it gives them "flexibility to cooperate with outlying efforts in Teller County and western El Paso County that aren't served by broadband."

Mannon said that multiple measures were on the ballot to help bring high-speed service through Ute Pass and into the outer reaches of Teller County. The infrastructure would need to come right through Woodland Park, she said.

"The provision of broadband services keeps evolving," Mannon said. "I think that was recognized in that legislation. Things change and communities want to opt out of it as their opportunities change. It's nice to have that flexibility."

©2016 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.