As we begin to gather signatures for our ballot initiative to opt out of Senate Bill 152, it is important to note that we are not the only municipality on the great state of Colorado to do so. Across the state, there have been successful efforts from several cities and counties that have decided to opt out of SB 152 and take back control of their Internet. Some municipalities have simply opted out with no intention to provide Internet services, and other areas have decided to move forward and build full fledge utilities. One of the most successful efforts is in the City of Longmont.
Lack of Internet access, slow speeds, and high prices were some of the reasons the City of Longmont decided to opt out of SB 152 and create their own internet service through the municipal electric utility. The electric utility was already laying the groundwork for fiber networks back in 1997 to improve their electric substations (the substations act as important links in the power system, and are seen as the stepping stones between generation, transmission, and distribution systems. They are also crucial for stepping down voltages in order to not overload the grid). The City of Longmont was on track to also provide broadband services through the same fiber network; however, SB 152 stopped their progress. After a couple of attempts to repeal SB 152, Longmont was able to officially exempt themselves from the restriction in 2011.
Longmont Power and Communications was able to form NextLight, a non-profit, community-owned, public broadband utility. Using design-build methods and constructing the network in various stages, the City of Longmont has been able to provide faster and more affordable broadband services to a wider range of people than the large telecommunication companies (which is exactly what these telecom companies feared in the first place). In 2018, PC Magazine recognized LPC’s NextLight™ as the fastest ISP in the nation, defeating the defending champion Google Fiber.
There are several benefits to the public, community-owned broadband:
It is a NON-PROFIT! Meaning, every dollar you pay each month goes right back to improving the network and not lining the pockets of shareholders.
CUSTOMER SERVICE! With NextLight, the employees are your neighbors. Need to call NextLight to report an outage or ask questions? You’re talking to someone right in your community and not a robot or someone on the other side of the world.
But the most important benefit is that the COMMUNITY owns the network.
The City and County of Denver can follow the steps of the City of Longmont and take back our Internet. We just have to be educated and VOTE!
The Denver Internet Initiative Team
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