Less than a month after the FCC voted to repeal the nation’s net neutrality rules, the City Council in Fort Collins, Colorado, has decided to move ahead with a municipal broadband network. Their 7-0 vote Tuesday built on a ballot resolution passed in November, and will not impose any data caps or usage limits, Ars Technica reports.
“The network will deliver a ‘net-neutral’ competitive unfettered data offering,” a planning document states. “All application providers (data, voice, video, cloud services) are equally able to provide their services, and consumers’ access to advanced data opens up the marketplace.”
Council also approved the use of $1.8 million from the city’s general fund to finance the system’s rollout, the Coloradoan reports. The money is slated to be repaid with an estimated $132 million bond issue in the spring.
According to Ars Technica, a telecom industry-led campaign against the municipal system spent more than $900,000, with most of those funds supplied by the Colorado Cable Telecommunications Association (of which Comcast is a member). The pro-municipal broadband effort, meanwhile, spent just $15,000. In November, nearly 60 percent of voters approved the ballot measure that allowed the municipal system to move forward, pending council approval.
As Next City has covered, municipal broadband efforts are often contested by big telecom companies and hampered by state laws, but several cities have managed to beat the odds. Kansas City’s Google Fiber network was often lauded as an early success — though expansion of that system ground to a halt in 2017. Chattanooga, Tennessee, was another early adopter of the city-as-internet service provider model.
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.