Defying a well-financed “misinformation” campaign by major cable and telecom companies to quash competition, the city of Fort Collins, Colorado has approved a ballot measure to invest $150 million in a city-owned broadband utility, while more than a dozen municipalities across the state voted this week in favor of locally-controlled internet.
Although the Fort Collins measure—known as Question 2B before the vote—”does not require the council to create the utility,” according to The Coloradoan, it gives the city council “flexibility in setting up a business model for providing high-speed internet, including entering into a partnership with a private company.”
City Manager Darin Atteberry told the newspaper that the council will meet later this month to discuss the next steps. Atteberry, along with other local leaders and advocates, celebrated the results, though Mayor Wade Troxell criticized the cable companies’ campaign “to misinform the electorate,” and said he was disappointed in the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce for “playing an active role in misinformation.”
Led by Comcast, “cable providers campaigned heavily against the Fort Collins move,” the Denver Post reports, “spending more than $256,000 in television and radio ads.” The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), however, says that by the time of the election, “that figure had jumped to more than $450,000.” In an effort to promote the ballot measure, local residents formed the Fort Collins Citizens Broadband Committee, which raised less than $10,000, but was ultimately victorious.
“This is another David vs. Goliath battle,” Glen Akins, who helped lead the committee, told Ars Technica.
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT