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Google Can't Establish Fiber in Boulder

June 23, 2014

Google Can't Establish Fiber in Boulder

By Casey Houser
Contributing Writer

Colorado state regulations may be holding back Boulder from a bid to receive Google (News - Alert) Fiber. According to a recent report by local news organization Your Boulder, Google offers its Fiber infrastructure as a public utility, but state laws do not allow for that sort of agreement. The legal roadblock could hinder one of the state's most prominent cities' chances of receiving ultrafast broadband.

The regulation states that no telecommunications product can be offered as a public utility. Private entities such as Comcast (News - Alert) and Century Link, the report indicates, are able to thrive as a part of the system, but newcomers such as Google that offer similar services in a different manner cannot even begin to compete because the state will not let them in.

Despite that restriction, not all hope is lost for Boulder residents. They can override the state law by passing a specific regulation that would allow public fiber optic cables to be installed within city limits, and that is exactly what residents are beginning to do. They reportedly conducted an initial town hall meeting June 10 to discuss the allowance.

Residents can vote to let Google and other entities into their borders, but telecoms will most certainly fight back. Your Boulder says the city of Longmont completed similar proceedings in 2009, and its own measure fell short following a telecom lobbying campaign that operated to the tune of $245,000. Telecoms spent even more in 2011, but that reported $420,000 could not stop the bill a second time through. Now, public telecommunications projects may exist in Longmont.

Boulders will likely have to pass through a similar set of proceedings if they bring the issue to the polls. Private telecoms have a substantial investment in the city, and with a monopoly on services, they can dictate prices across the board with a minimum of competition. Services such as Google Fiber could allow citizens to benefit from high-speed, affordable broadband access, but residents will not have the privilege unless they vote to make it so.

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