Cortez Seeks Voter Approval to Partner with Internet Providers

3/11/2021
NEWS BRIEFS
You're watching Montezuma Local News. Watch all our stories at MontezumaLocal.NEWS. Download our podcasts, and follow us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Send story ideas to ideas@thelocalnews.us. Advertise with us: Sales@thelocalnews.us

A state law passed more than 16 years ago prohibits municipalities from providing high-speed Internet services to users without voter approval. But the law has had a chilling effect on development of high-speed Internet services in rural areas of the state. That's why the City of Cortez seeks voter approval on April 6 to waive that restriction.

VIEW FULL TRANSCRIPT +

1

00:00:00,240 --> 00:00:03,420

As the City of Cortez and

Montezuma County get ready

2

00:00:03,420 --> 00:00:07,230

to extend a high-speed fiber

optic cable south of town,

3

00:00:07,230 --> 00:00:10,490

the City Council will ask

voters to restore its right

4

00:00:10,490 --> 00:00:12,030

to provide internet services

5

00:00:12,030 --> 00:00:14,470

to residential and business customers

6

00:00:14,470 --> 00:00:17,130

when the installation is completed.

7

00:00:17,130 --> 00:00:18,950

You're watching the Local News Network,

8

00:00:18,950 --> 00:00:22,060

brought to you by The

Overlook at Edgemont Highlands

9

00:00:22,060 --> 00:00:25,000

and ACE Choice Builders in Cortez.

10

00:00:25,000 --> 00:00:26,563

I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

11

00:00:27,690 --> 00:00:30,470

The City of Cortez wants

to dot all of its i's

12

00:00:30,470 --> 00:00:32,200

and cross all of its t's

13

00:00:32,200 --> 00:00:35,160

to ensure that it can

provide internet services

14

00:00:35,160 --> 00:00:37,230

to residential and business users

15

00:00:37,230 --> 00:00:39,830

as it completes work with Montezuma County

16

00:00:39,830 --> 00:00:44,180

on a $600,000 project to

extend fiber optic cable

17

00:00:44,180 --> 00:00:45,560

south of town.

18

00:00:45,560 --> 00:00:48,970

A state law passed 16 years

ago prohibits local governments

19

00:00:48,970 --> 00:00:52,400

from providing high-speed

internet services to users

20

00:00:52,400 --> 00:00:55,450

to protect commercial

telecommunications companies

21

00:00:55,450 --> 00:00:58,680

from competition with local governments.

22

00:00:58,680 --> 00:01:02,360

But the law also has

severely limited access

23

00:01:02,360 --> 00:01:04,210

to high-speed internet services

24

00:01:04,210 --> 00:01:08,060

in rural communities like

Cortez and Montezuma County

25

00:01:08,060 --> 00:01:10,350

because they lack the number of customers

26

00:01:10,350 --> 00:01:13,010

that commercial internet providers need

27

00:01:13,010 --> 00:01:15,790

to cover the cost of infrastructure.

28

00:01:15,790 --> 00:01:19,200

That's why the City of

Cortez seeks voter approval

29

00:01:19,200 --> 00:01:22,150

to waive the state law and to sell access

30

00:01:22,150 --> 00:01:26,000

to its fiber optic network

to private providers.

31

00:01:26,000 --> 00:01:28,990

A lot of times, it's very

expensive to build broadband,

32

00:01:28,990 --> 00:01:31,280

and communities that are smaller,

33

00:01:31,280 --> 00:01:32,650

such as the City of Cortez,

34

00:01:32,650 --> 00:01:34,590

it's about 8,500 people.

35

00:01:34,590 --> 00:01:37,370

It's very costly to build fiber

36

00:01:37,370 --> 00:01:39,400

to every single residence and business.

37

00:01:39,400 --> 00:01:41,280

And so a public-private partnership

38

00:01:41,280 --> 00:01:44,860

would allow the utilization

of some public funds

39

00:01:44,860 --> 00:01:48,283

and private funds to be able

to get that deployed faster.

40

00:01:49,240 --> 00:01:52,240

It also can help provide

a service provider

41

00:01:52,240 --> 00:01:53,530

to provide the services

42

00:01:53,530 --> 00:01:56,120

instead of the city having

to provide the services.

43

00:01:56,120 --> 00:01:59,320

There's a lot of requirements as an ISP,

44

00:01:59,320 --> 00:02:01,150

an internet service provider,

45

00:02:01,150 --> 00:02:02,960

that you have to have a

certain amount of uptime

46

00:02:02,960 --> 00:02:04,030

and things like that,

47

00:02:04,030 --> 00:02:08,570

and that can become onerous

for a municipality or a county.

48

00:02:08,570 --> 00:02:10,960

The Southwest Colorado

Council of Governments

49

00:02:10,960 --> 00:02:14,410

provides consultation and

resources to local governments

50

00:02:14,410 --> 00:02:16,430

on telecommunications issues,

51

00:02:16,430 --> 00:02:18,570

and serves as a coordination agency

52

00:02:18,570 --> 00:02:20,540

for intergovernmental partnerships

53

00:02:20,540 --> 00:02:22,670

to build fiber optic networks.

54

00:02:22,670 --> 00:02:25,860

The City of Cortez and

Montezuma County recently agreed

55

00:02:25,860 --> 00:02:30,170

to jointly fund a $600,000

fiber optic cable extension

56

00:02:30,170 --> 00:02:33,850

from the city to Road G in the

southern part of the county.

57

00:02:33,850 --> 00:02:36,500

Eventually, the cable most

likely will be extended

58

00:02:36,500 --> 00:02:39,170

to serve the Ute,

Mountain Ute Indian tribe,

59

00:02:39,170 --> 00:02:42,390

and the Colorado Department

of Transportation.

60

00:02:42,390 --> 00:02:45,680

Gillow-Wiles said the city

most likely has the authority

61

00:02:45,680 --> 00:02:48,170

to sell access to the new network now

62

00:02:48,170 --> 00:02:51,820

because it provided internet

services to non-municipal users

63

00:02:51,820 --> 00:02:54,690

prior to the state's laws passage.

64

00:02:54,690 --> 00:02:57,360

But voter approval to

waive the restrictions

65

00:02:57,360 --> 00:02:59,950

clearly allows the city

to provide open access

66

00:02:59,950 --> 00:03:01,560

to the new network.

67

00:03:01,560 --> 00:03:03,760

The waiver will not increase taxes,

68

00:03:03,760 --> 00:03:06,270

but it will provide

high-speed internet access

69

00:03:06,270 --> 00:03:07,620

to more users,

70

00:03:07,620 --> 00:03:10,820

many of whom have struggled

with slow home internet speeds

71

00:03:10,820 --> 00:03:12,920

during the pandemic.

72

00:03:12,920 --> 00:03:16,490

One of the results of this COVID pandemic,

73

00:03:16,490 --> 00:03:20,943

people are doing so much work

online and Zoom meetings.

74

00:03:21,790 --> 00:03:25,860

Even after the threat has passed,

75

00:03:25,860 --> 00:03:27,830

I think a lot of people will be continuing

76

00:03:27,830 --> 00:03:30,760

to work at home, do Zoom meetings.

77

00:03:30,760 --> 00:03:33,500

And so there's going to be a great need

78

00:03:33,500 --> 00:03:38,020

for the high-speed internet

now and in the future.

79

00:03:38,020 --> 00:03:41,690

So we're kind of preparing for the future

80

00:03:41,690 --> 00:03:44,160

'cause it's not going to go away,

81

00:03:44,160 --> 00:03:46,123

the need for internet connections.

82

00:03:47,060 --> 00:03:48,720

Voters will have an opportunity

83

00:03:48,720 --> 00:03:51,080

to decide on the internet ballot question

84

00:03:51,080 --> 00:03:52,700

during a special election

85

00:03:52,700 --> 00:03:55,440

scheduled for Tuesday, April 6th.

86

00:03:55,440 --> 00:03:59,470

To learn more, visit the cityofcortez.com.

87

00:03:59,470 --> 00:04:00,680

Thanks for watching this edition

88

00:04:00,680 --> 00:04:02,180

of the Local News Network.

89

00:04:02,180 --> 00:04:04,730

Be sure to stay in touch

with our latest local news

90

00:04:04,730 --> 00:04:06,770

about Cortez and Montezuma County

91

00:04:06,770 --> 00:04:10,470

through Instagram, Twitter,

or your favorite podcast app.

92

00:04:10,470 --> 00:04:11,923

I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

PAST montezuma NEWS STORIES

Copyright © Local News Network Inc. All Rights Reserved. | Privacy Policy
JOIN OUR TEAM