RBC I The Rio Blanco County Broadband Coalition has placed a question on the November ballot that would permit county voters to authorize the creation of a broadband provider authority by government organizations such as county and town boards.
Coalition officials said it is important to note that this ballot question will not increase taxes or impose any costs on taxpayers. This effort is a part of the countywide consortium that seeks to join commercial broadband providers with government and other participants.
Colorado Senate Bill 152, passed in 2005, placed a restriction on government agencies providing broadband services if it can be shown that commercial providers are capable of and willing to provide comprehensive broadband middle and last mile services to subscribers in a county or municipality. County and local governments may opt out of this restriction if the voters approve such a move.
Commercial broadband providers are reluctant to invest substantial funding in developing infrastructure in small, sparsely populated rural counties and municipalities since they cannot generate an adequate return on their investment. This explains why sparsely populated areas are chronically underserved with high-speed, high-capacity broadband.
A number of rural Colorado counties and communities have placed ballot issues for voters to approve so that county and local governments may provide broadband services to their residents in a comprehensive and timely manner rather than waiting indefinitely for commercial providers to eventually provide such services.
The approach being taken by Rio Blanco County in forming a coalition of private enterprise providers, local and county governments, wireless (cell phone) providers, funders, philanthropic foundations, utilities and other potential contributors is that it will be able to greatly expedite and create a comprehensive broadband system that serves all potential consumers in Rio Blanco County.
Such a system offers abundant affordable broadband services that are inexpensive and will stimulate economic development through private enterprise, heritage and agri-tourism and world-wide international marketing of attractions and enterprises available in Rio Blanco County.
A Denver Post article recently described how the Colorado statute created by Senate Bill 152 has actually delayed and impeded development of broadband services in rural counties and communities and should perhaps be repealed or rewritten in the next legislative session. See that article at: www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_26300274/meyer-colorado-law-hinders-cities-efforts-expand-broadband
Voters may exempt their county and municipal governments from this statute and permit the rapid development of broadband services as noted above.