Greeley to join Windsor on feasibility study for broadband service | MyWindsorNow.com

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Greeley to join Windsor on feasibility study for broadband service

Greeley and Windsor residents concerned about lackluster internet service may have more options — eventually.

The Greeley City Council more than likely will ask voters in November to allow the city to provide some level of broadband service. What that entails, though, remains to be seen.

The city council on Tuesday voted to join forces with Windsor on a feasibility study for broadband service in the two communities. Results of the study, which will cost Greeley $50,000 and Windsor $35,000, will come out this fall.

Kelly Unger, Windsor's assistant to the town manager, said after seeing results of the study the town board will revisit whether Windsor will also take the issue to voters.

“Concerns with poor internet service and speed have prompted residents in 28 counties and 68 cities and towns to take that step, according to a Colorado Municipal League newsletter.

The November vote in Greeley will not come with a price tag for voters. Instead, it's about whether voters want the option of city-provided broadband.

A 2005 state statute prohibits cities from providing broadband service without a vote of city residents.

Concerns with poor internet service and speed have prompted residents in 28 counties and 68 cities and towns to take that step, according to a Colorado Municipal League newsletter.

Longmont already provides internet service, and Fort Collins voters will be asked in November to approve $150 million in debt for that city to set up its own system. Fort Collins plans on paying down the debt through service charges.

Unger said the town of Windsor has been watching area cities as they explore broadband, before providing direction to city staff to explore partnering options last year. Partnering, she said, will be the most "fiscally responsible" route for the town.

Greeley City Manager Roy Otto said internet service providers have taken notice, with Comcast promoting higher-end internet service across the state.

"To me, it's apparent that, from the votes and the things that have happened across the state of Colorado, it's making an impact in the marketplace because Comcast is trying to respond to that," Otto said. "At the very least we should be engaged in that conversation for our citizens."

Along with preventing cities from offering internet service without a vote, state law also prohibits cities from having anything more than dial-up internet at public parks and other public spaces. In Greeley, the Family FunPlex and Recreation Center fall into that camp, something Assistant City Manager Victoria Runkle said hampered the city's ability to host events.

Otto said any proposal for city-provided broadband service, like the type offered in Longmont and proposed in Fort Collins, would require another vote. This November's likely ballot issue simply would be about voters saying the city should have the option.

— Emily Wenger of the Windsor Now! contributed to this story