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On the front line of the digital divide, Cortez asks voters to pursue local broadband

Author: Dan Njegomir - March 30, 2018 - Updated: March 30, 2018

broadband(Courtesy of Creative Commons)

Rural Colorado long has been on the short end of high-speed internet even as local telecom providers have scrambled to fill in the gaps. Private-sector efforts notwithstanding, state law allows municipalities to set up their own broadband systems — and that’s just what a number of communities around the state have been doing with local voter approval.

Tuesday’s local balloting will include another round of proposals to establish municipally run broadband in towns around the state. Cortez is among them, reports The Journal:

The Cortez City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve the fees and costs for a broadband pilot program.

Through the program, dubbed the Cortez Community Network Pilot, the city will install in-home wireless devices called GigaCenters, and provide fiber to connect some residents with the city’s existing network.

For a $150 installation fee, $60 a month and a $10 device rental fee, participants in the pilot would get speeds of up to 100 Mbps. The program is designed to test whether the city can become a long-term internet service provider, according to The Journal.

Private providers have looked askance at the government competition, and in some Front Range communities, major ISPs have fought the municipal startups. But the need for functional internet service, along with the allure for plenty of residents of sidestepping Big Broadband, have prompted voters to pursue net service as a public utility supported by City Hall. Voters in an estimated 100 Colorado municipalities so far have OK’d such arrangements, according to Nonprofit Quarterly.

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is the opinion editor for Colorado Politics. A longtime journalist and more-than-25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene, Njegomir has been an award-winning newspaper reporter, an editorial page editor, a senior legislative staffer at the State Capitol and a political consultant.