In 2005, the Colorado State Legislature passed a bill known as Senate Bill 152. This bill forbids local governments from providing many different services like cable television and high speed internet to local residents.
It is well known that SB 152 was lobbied for and mainly written by two of the largest telecommunications companies, Comcast and Qwest (now owned by CenturyLink), to ensure that they can keep hold of their monopolies in the state. When this bill was up for debate, the main concerns where that the bill was anti-competition and would prevent Internet access to lower-income and rural Coloradans. 13 years later, both of these concerns have come true.
When searching for Internet providers, it is easy to see that the list of options is limited to one or two providers. If a service provider has limited coverage in your area, then you are out of luck and have to suffer with slow to no Internet access. This has been a major problem for much of low income and rural Colorado communities. In order for telecoms to serve any given area, they must first build the infrastructure. When subscribers are in rural areas, building this infrastructure is not only difficult but incredibly expensive. In an urban area, network providers can serve hundreds of subscribers within just a mile of their network. In rural areas, it is just the opposite, in one mile they can maybe serve one subscriber if they are lucky. Serving rural areas does not meet the bottom-line for larger telecoms, and with SB 152 in place, these areas are now being left behind in what is called the “digital divide”.
The Internet is not just for Facebook or Netflix. As our society becomes more reliant on fast and reliable Internet access, connectivity is proving be a vital element in an area’s economic development. Having fast Internet retains residents and provides a better quality of life, either through education, owning a business, telemedicine, etc.
Now that we have dwelled on all of the doom and gloom, you might be wondering how Denver can take back control of our Internet. Well, luckily, SB 152 has an opt-out provision written into it that can restore a local government’s right to provide broadband Internet by putting this matter to the voters.
The Denver Internet Initiative is attempting to do just that! We are in the process of getting a ballot initiative on the May 2019 Municipal Elections to opt-out of Senate Bill 152. But we cannot do this without the support from the residents of the City and County of Denver!
Now, you might be asking yourself, “Well, how can I get involved and take back control of our Internet?” Well, there are several ways to become involved and some of them are really easy:
- Invite us to speak at your next event, or let us know about events that you think we should reach out to. Education is the first step.
- Follow our efforts on social media and through our website (we will keep this blog updated with our progress) and share the information with your friends and family. The more residents that are educated on SB 152, the better chance we have at fighting back against the large telecoms!
- Ask us questions, make your ideas and concerns known. We want to make sure that we find the solution that works best for Denver.
- Last, but the absolute most important thing is to VOTE! If we are able to get the initiative on the May 2020 Municipal Ballot, then we will need all of you to vote “YES” to the opt-out!
If you are reading this, that means you have reached the end of our first, of many, blog posts! Thank you for taking the time to learn about DII and how we are fighting to take back control over our Internet. It will be a wild ride and we are happy to share it with you.
The Denver Internet Initiative Team
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