Seven counties and towns in Colorado are pushing back against huge broadband providers for the right to build their own, local internet solutions. Many US states have regulations — often pushed for by Comcast and other major ISPs — that make it difficult for communities to build out their own municipal broadband. But as The Washington Post reports, Colorado's rules are unique in that they allow towns to pursue broadband if residents approve the idea on an election ballot. That's exactly what happened this past week. Voters overwhelmingly favored measures that will allow Boulder, Yuma, and other areas to establish municipal — if the towns decide to push forward. The successful vote doesn't require or guarantee the projects to get off the ground, but Colorado is sitting on "miles" of unused fiber, so the technology and resources are at least partially there.
The FCC has also suggested it stands on the side of local communities over powerful broadband providers. "The facts speak for themselves: competition works – when it is allowed to," wrote chairman Tom Wheeler back in June. "Throughout the country where we have seen competitive broadband providers come in to a market, prices have gone down and broadband speeds have gone up. No wonder incumbent broadband providers want to legislate rather than innovate." Thankfully these Colorado towns won't need to look to the government for help; they've successfully unshackled themselves through the plain old process of democracy. "This is definitely exciting," said Boulder Mayor Matt Appelbaum "It gets us going in the right direction, and it's exciting to get to use our fiber, which is just sitting there."