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Where Will Fort Collins Go From Here?

November 28, 2017

On Election Day 2017, a majority (57 percent) of Fort Collins, Colo. voters agreed to allow their city lawmakers to pursue the concept of a municipal broadband network.

The vote, however, does not mean Fort Collins is getting a taxpayer-financed, government-owned network anytime soon. 

According to the Coloradan, voters merely agreed to give the city council the “flexibility” to set up “a business model for providing high-speed Internet.” The options open to councilors include taking on up to $150 million to build a municipal broadband network. Just as importantly, though, is that the “flexibility” also includes the possibility that the council could enter “into a partnership with a private company.”

In a recent Coloradan opinion column, Fort Collins resident Clint Skutchan said the outcome of the vote could turn into a drama or a love story for his city. To avoid a tragedy, he advised that the council remember that broadband is not a utility. Skutchan wrote, “Offering or approaching broadband as just another municipal utility, like water or electricity, would ignore hundreds of years of history regarding how critically consumers have viewed all electronic information providers. And there’s a reason for this: These services are far more top-of-mind, subjective, personal and emotional to end users than any other current utility.”

Skutchan also advised that opponents of a municipal broadband system shouldn’t “fade away” just because the vote is over. He argued all citizens must help ensure city officials “live up to the promise of better and cheaper” broadband.

City resident Bob Carnahan is one of those who should continue to be involved. After Election Day, he told the Coloradan that he voted again a municipal system. He said, “It makes me sad that we are going to pit our government against private industry and have them compete … This to me is the tip of the iceberg when we have such a population in this country that believes bigger government is better government.”