LONGMONT, Colo. - Cities across Colorado are getting into the broadband business.
Earlier this month, voters in 44 cities voted to allow their municipalities to offer their own Internet services. “The most practical path for us was to pursue this directly ourselves,” said Scott Rochat, the public information officer for Longmont Communications, which includes Nextlight Broadband, the cities Internet provider.
Longmont voters approved the city offering the service in 2011, when they voted to opt out of Senate Bill 152, which restricts city governments from using tax payer dollars to build broadband networks.
Voters also approved a more than $40 million bond for the city to use to cover the building expenses.
They plan to pay the bond back with revenue from the broadband service.
The service offers 1 Gigabit of speed for $50 a month for residents who sign up during the first three months of installation.
After that the price goes up to $99.99 a month for the first year, then goes down to $50.
Compare that to two of the largest providers in the area: Comcast and CenturyLink.
CenturyLink offers 1 Gig of service plus cable at $79.95 a month, while Comcast only offers 2 Gigs of service at select locations for $300 a month.
“We really do consider broadband to be the next great utility this is becoming as a essential to an American resident as electric service,” said Rochat, “as water service as any of the utilities that we count on on a regular basis."
Other cities are catching on.
Centennial voters approved the city getting broadband in 2013.
Two years later they’re still working on the logistics.
Unlike Longmont, they plan to work with a private company to offer the services.
“I don’t think you’ll ever see get a bill from the city of Centennial for your internet bill,” said C.J. Whelan, a city council member for the city, “but to provide that core infrastructure that’s how well play the best role."
Whelan says they still haven’t decided on prices or whether any tax payer dollars will have to be used in the building process.
“Broadband’s becoming an infrastructure need in the community,” he said.
Rochat says they can’t install their services fast enough.
Nearly half of the residents where they build use them as a provider.
“The reception has been beyond anything that we imagined at this stage of the game,” he said.