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Colorado unshackles cities, lifts ban on govt-owned muni broadband

Centennial state could soon be blazing in more ways than one

Voters in Colorado have abolished laws that had prohibited local governments from offering their own broadband internet services.

Local ballots in 17 counties all resulted in voters electing to allow their local governments to offer broadband service in competition with private cable companies. The vote overturns a 2005 law that prevented any government agency from competing in the broadband space.

Originally intended to encourage private companies to thrive, the laws have been blamed for keeping high-speed internet out of rural communities and other areas where private companies don't have an incentive to lay high-speed lines.

Such was the case in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the city moved to build its own broadband network in opposition to state law. The debate eventually drew in the FCC, who argued on behalf of the city.

Chattanooga now enjoys some of the fastest home broadband service in the nation.

According to The Denver Post, the 17 counties have differing reasons for overturning the rule. Some areas want to build their own broadband infrastructure, while others simply want to offer Wi-Fi service in public buildings or improve service for farming communities.

Though the state is best known for its mountains and, more recently, lax marijuana laws, Colorado has maintained a strong technology sector driven in large part by the communications and aerospace industries. Both NORAD and the US Air Force Academy are based in Colorado.

More recently, Colorado has seen startup communities flourish around the cities of Denver and Boulder. With more cities being open to building their own broadband networks, companies could be courted to further expand in the state, particularly given the government's changing attitude toward techies who partake in Colorado's cash crop. ®

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