By an overwhelming majority (61%), the citizens of Longmont, Colorado, passed a measure that would allow them to offer commercial use of their 17-mile fiber optic network. This is despite the fact that Comcast and CenturyLink, the local broadband providers, spent nearly $300,000 on a campaign against the measure.
Longmont, Colorado is a city of 87,000 people situated near the Rockies and about 20 miles from Boulder. High-tech industry abounds in the area, including IBM which is only a few miles outside of town. Colorado state law prohibits the offering of municipal-funded/provided broadband without a vote of the residents. Civic leaders of Longmont wanted to pass the broadband initiative in order to offer more high-tech opportunities to businesses that might want to move to the area, and also offer low-cost bandwidth to a town that is still suffering from the recession. We have some of the lowest municipal utility rates in the country; there is no reason similar savings could not be offered for broadband. A similar measure on the ballot in 2009 failed by almost the same margin that the current measure passed by.
So what happens next? The city will develop a plan and begin offering leases on the current infrastructure, which includes 17 miles of fiber-optic lines that run throughout the city, in addition to wireless architecture that exists city-wide on city lighting poles. The first offerings should be available to consumers within eight months.
As a resident of this city, I intend to take full advantage of the offered service when it becomes available. I would like nothing better than to dump the telco we are currently using (CenturyLink). This is a huge win not only for my city, but for other municipalities not only in Colorado but across the country. The telcos and cable companies can be overthrown.