- Associated Press - Monday, November 10, 2014

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) - More Colorado counties and communities have won the right to set up or improve their own broadband networks.

Voters in San Miguel and Yuma counties as well as in the municipalities of Yuma, Wray, Boulder, Cherry Hills Village and Red Cliff backed broadband ballot measures in last week’s election.

Under a 2005 state law, local governments are barred from getting into the broadband business unless voters approve it.

“It’s clearly something our citizens are saying, ‘Hey, local governments, we want you to step up to the plate and help address the issue,’” said Sam Mamet, executive director of the Colorado Municipal League.

Sparsely-populated Rio Blanco County in northwestern Colorado is committing $7 million - $2 million in federal mineral lease revenue and $5 million from the county’s regular budget - to improve its broadband service. County commissioner Shawn Bolton said better Internet access is key to diversifying the economy there. He said the county won’t provide broadband service itself but plans to install infrastructure such as fiber lines.

“By providing infrastructure, then we can get the service providers to come here and provide the service at a competitive rate,” he said.

According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which advocates for communities who want to build broadband networks, Colorado is one of 19 states that require limit local authority to build such networks.

Voters in Longmont, Montrose and Centennial have previously approved similar measures.


Information from: The Daily Sentinel, https://www.gjsentinel.com

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