Election 2015: Voters asked to opt out of telecom bill | SteamboatToday.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Election 2015: Voters asked to opt out of telecom bill

Election 2015
ElectionBug_210x100

Referendum

Without increasing taxes, shall (insert different government entities) have the legal ability to provide any and all services currently restricted by Title 29, Article 27, Part 1, of the Colorado Revised Statutes, specifically described as “advanced service,” “telecommunications services” and “cable television services,” as defined by the statute, specifically including new and improved bandwidth services based on best available technologies, utilizing current and new community-owned infrastructure to any existing fiber optic network, either directly, or indirectly with public or private sector service providers, to potential subscribers that may include telecommunications service providers, and residential or commercial users within (government entity), and that said services may be provided by (government entity) alone or in partnership with other governmental, private or corporate, including nonprofit, entities?

Voters in eight jurisdictions in Routt County will be asked in the November election to free-up local governments from the constraint of a state law that prevents them from providing services in the area of telecommunications.

The constraints in Senate Bill 152, passed by the legislature in 2005, specifically prohibit public institutions from taking measures to improve “high bandwidth services.”

Large telecommunications companies lobbied in favor of Senate Bill 152, saying competition from public entities would serve as a strong disincentive to private sector investment in infrastructure, particularly in rural areas of the state.



Referendum

Without increasing taxes, shall (insert different government entities) have the legal ability to provide any and all services currently restricted by Title 29, Article 27, Part 1, of the Colorado Revised Statutes, specifically described as “advanced service,” “telecommunications services” and “cable television services,” as defined by the statute, specifically including new and improved bandwidth services based on best available technologies, utilizing current and new community-owned infrastructure to any existing fiber optic network, either directly, or indirectly with public or private sector service providers, to potential subscribers that may include telecommunications service providers, and residential or commercial users within (government entity), and that said services may be provided by (government entity) alone or in partnership with other governmental, private or corporate, including nonprofit, entities?

However, former Steamboat Springs city councilman Jon Quinn, chief operating officer of Northwest Data Services here, said he can’t point to a single positive outcome locally resulting from Senate Bill 152.



Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan told the county commissioners in June that Senate Bill 152 has essentially resulted in protecting major telecommunication companies like CenturyLink from any competition in rural areas of the state.

“The bill was written by the telecom industry and has solidified territorial practices of the telecom industry and what has essentially been a monopoly business in Northwest Colorado,” Sullivan wrote in a memo to the commissioners. “Efforts to repeal the law at the state legislature have failed due to intense lobbying by the telecom industry.”

Those political entities asking voters to release them from the provisions of Senate Bill 152 include Routt County (Referendum 1A), the Town of Yampa (2B), the Town of Oak Creek (2A), the city of Steamboat Springs (2C), Steamboat Springs RE-2 School District (3C), the Town of Hayden (2E), Colorado Mountain College (4D) and Hayden RE-1 School District (1A).

Some voters, who live within the different boundaries of several governments asking to be released from Senate Bill 152, will receive ballots with multiple referendums with similar language. For example, residents of Steamboat Springs will see referendums from Steamboat Springs School District, Routt County and Colorado Mountain College as well as from the city.

If the measures are approved by the voters, local officials say they will enjoy more latitude to tackle the troublesome issues surrounding the high cost and limited capacity of Internet data capacity in rural Northwest Colorado.

Local governments won’t be able to fix all the broadband issues in the region on their own, but passage of Referendum 1A in Routt County and 2C in the city of Steamboat Springs would “empower the community to help itself,” said Quinn, who chairs a political committee registered with the Secretary of State as “Yes2Broadband” to advocate for the referendums.

One possibility is that the city and county might collaborate on securing grant monies allowing them to run their own fiber optic cable to a telecommunications tower of their own, Quinn said.

One of the most successful examples of local entities taking some control of the region’s telecommunications future was realized in May 2014 when Northwest Colorado Broadband, a co-op created by several local institutions, completed a “carrier-neutral location” in a downtown building owned by the school district.

The carrier-neutral location initially is intended to enable the school district, the city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County to pay far less for more connectivity, with the hope that the effects will trickle down to customers large and small across the region.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

 

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User