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Nearly Half of Colorado Counties Have Rejected a Comcast-Backed Law Restricting City-Run Internet (vice.com) 128

bumblebaetuna shares a report from Motherboard: In Tuesday's Coordinated Election, two Colorado counties voted on ballot measures to exempt themselves from a state law prohibiting city-run internet services. Both Eagle County and Boulder County voters approved the measures, bringing the total number of Colorado counties that have rejected the state law to 31 -- nearly half of the state's 64 counties. Senate Bill 152 -- which was lobbied for by Big Telecom -- became law in Colorado in 2005, and prohibits municipalities in the state from providing city-run broadband services.

Some cities prefer to build their own broadband network, which delivers internet like a utility to residents, and is maintained through subscription costs. But ever since SB 152 was enacted, Colorado communities have to first bring forward a ballot measure asking voters to exempt the area from the state law before they can even consider starting a municipal broadband service. So that's what many of them have done. In addition to the 31 counties that have voted to overrule the state restrictions, dozens of municipalities in the state have also passed similar ballot measures. Including cities, towns, and counties, more than 100 communities in Colorado have pushed back against the 12-year-old prohibition, according to the Institute for Local Self Reliance.

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Nearly Half of Colorado Counties Have Rejected a Comcast-Backed Law Restricting City-Run Internet

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  • That's odd (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    What could possibly motivate state legislators vote for a law that restricts the ability of communities to compete with companies?

    • Re:That's odd (Score:5, Insightful)

      by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2017 @05:59PM (#55516207)
      You're suggesting bribery, but I think a lot of state legislators are/were simply motivated by the religious belief that government cannot do anything useful beyond police and military. "Government no make jobs! GOVERNMENT NO MAKE JOBS!!!"

      In some ways, that's worse. Bribery is at least logical, and can be outlawed. The cult of the free market on the other hand cannot be reasoned with, nor can you jail someone for it.
      • Re:That's odd (Score:5, Insightful)

        by WheezyJoe ( 1168567 ) <feggNO@SPAMexcite.com> on Wednesday November 08, 2017 @06:40PM (#55516409)

        Bribery is at least logical, and can be outlawed. The cult of the free market on the other hand cannot be reasoned with, nor can you jail someone for it.

        Bribery can be obfuscated, and the strongest "cult" is the one with the most money to build the biggest church on the most valuable piece of property. Politician say "GOVERNMENT NO MAKE JOBS!!!", corporation/fat-cat say "Good boy, now roll-over while Daddy pays Super-PAC to produce vicious attack-ads to run at all hours on all channels of his big cable network spanning every district."

        Politician say "Big cable GOOD! Big cable GOOD!"

        • Re:That's odd (Score:5, Insightful)

          by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2017 @07:07PM (#55516565)
          lobbyists are just legalized bribery in Washington DC
          • lobbyists are just blatant baksheesh in Washington DC

            FTFY ;^)

          • lobbyists are just legalized bribery in Washington DC

            Oh really? Do you care to qualify this? I mean *ALL* lobbying can't be legalized bribery, can it? If I go to DC and ask my senators for clean air and water does that mean I've committed some kind of legalized bribery?

            I'm sure that there are solar power lobbyists in DC right now. Wind power lobbyists too. Lobbyists for public education, blood and organ donation, drunk driving prevention, drug legalization, drug crime mandatory minimums, nuclear power, anti-nuclear power, and lobbyists for lobbyists. Re

            • by Anonymous Coward

              Asking by talking is not the same as asking by giving the politician money. Giving the politician money so they will listen to you is the same as legalized bribery. The politician listens better to the larger donor, so yes, votes are purchased.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              Because there are exceptions doesnâ(TM)t mean a comment is not substantively correct. As one who has been part of the process, buying laws that are not good for the majority of constituents is easily 90%+ of lobbying in my opinion. At least in the USA. you donâ(TM)t get a say unless you are quite wealthy. Well, you have a say, itâ(TM)s just that nobody listens.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        ... cult of the free market ...

        Many times, Comcast and friends aren't using the 'free market' excuse because they have a monopoly over the county. They use the 'socialism is bad' (which, strictly obeyed, would ban the municipal government), or the 'privatisation is the answer' (no-body ask what the question was) arguments.

      • You're suggesting bribery, but I think a lot of state legislators are/were simply motivated by the religious belief

        They were perhaps more motivated by the logic that allowing cities to cherry-pick broadband service and compete against the same company that they regulate to be unfair. The city has created a contractual agreement with Comcast or other cable service to provide a list of services to the city residents, but will not have the same rules or requirements for the service they provide. They will also not have the costs or the losses, since any losses will be taxpayer reimbursed.

        It's not like there's a monopoly

        • by dryeo ( 100693 )

          The city and their stockholders, I mean residents, are happy to make 1% or less profit. What private company is going to be happy with that?

          • The city and their stockholders, I mean residents, are happy to make 1% or less profit.

            The city is happy to operate at a loss. The "stockholders" who want cheap internet are happy to let the other stockholders who don't cover the loses. It's an involuntary stockholder relationship.

            What private company is going to be happy with that?

            If ANY private company could operate at a profit, they'd be trying. One cost that a private company doesn't have is the public employee pension system, so they should be able to profit if the city can break even.

            But, of course, the city will just regulate the competitor so it cannot make a profit, either. That's

      • Re:That's odd (Score:5, Insightful)

        by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2017 @06:56PM (#55516505)
        I think people who make this argument really misunderstand what is meant when people say that government cannot make jobs, though I suspect there are plenty of people who make the statement and support it without understanding it either.

        From a plain language perspective, it's pretty obvious that government can make jobs. At a minimum any government official is holding a job position that wouldn't exist without the government. Those officials will likely create a lot of other government jobs as part of a bureaucracy in service of those initial jobs, much like a company has administrative assistants, HR departments, and plenty of other staff that don't have anything to do with the core business of the company. Similarly, the FBI, IRS, and other government agencies all need staff. The Department of Homeland Security certainly created a lot of jobs in order to fulfill the purposes it was created for.

        But here's the funny thing. Government doesn't create jobs, but neither do companies. Sure a company can employee people for some task just like a government does, but the company can't just create any job at its whim. I could pay a few hundred people to create sculptures of 16th century philosophers fashioned entirely out of their own shit, but I could scarcely afford to for very long. It's consumer demand that ultimately creates jobs, and not any one person's particular whims about what kind of labor should be done. Unless you have customers willing to pay for your products, any job you might create is extremely temporary at best.

        The notion that governments can't create jobs isn't about whether or not they can pay people to perform some activity. It's plainly obvious that they can. What is really meant by the phrase is that governments can't hope to direct the economy because they cannot possible imagine what it is that people actually want and value most. The Soviets and many others tried and failed miserably to direct economies no matter how much effort they devoted to central planning. That is also plainly obvious from history.

        The difference is that a free market system allows for participants to see the kinds of jobs created that they're willing to pay to maintain rather than have them created by government decree. Furthermore, a government ban on municipal services is against free market principles. Also long as a city municipal internet company does not have any unfair competitive advantages by law, there's no reason why that option shouldn't exist. A free market cannot possibly exist if the government has legislated a monopoly.

        If it seems that so many people who are in favor of free markets are against the government getting involved in markets its because a business in a free market is able to fail, freeing up the labor it used for other uses. Government jobs tend not to go away once created, even when most people wouldn't want to buy those services in any form. Look no further than the TSA for an example of where the government is forcing something down consumers throats when you'd be hard pressed to find people who would be willing to voluntarily purchase that kind of service.
        • If it seems that so many people who are in favor of free markets are against the government getting involved in markets its because a business in a free market is able to fail, freeing up the labor it used for other uses. Government jobs tend not to go away once created, even when most people wouldn't want to buy those services in any form. Look no further than the TSA for an example of where the government is forcing something down consumers throats when you'd be hard pressed to find people who would be willing to voluntarily purchase that kind of service.

          There's broad community support, particularly from those that don't fly or at least don't fly often, for the TSA. People do want to /feel/ safe.

          Trouble is most people get really annoyed about the government interference that stops them pissing in the stream, but really think something should be done about those folks up the hill pissing in the stream.

        • If it seems that so many people who are in favor of free markets are against the government getting involved in markets its because a business in a free market is able to fail, freeing up the labor it used for other uses

          That's a compelling argument, I've never thought about it that way.

          Two points though:
          One: Saying "Government doesn't create jobs" is a fucking lie then. The statement should be "government doesn't create jobs that go away," except that would of course make it sound like a good thing.
          Two: That's a pretty big generalization that doesn't hold up. Government funded scientist jobs get cut all the time. Many government jobs, including municipal broadband workers don't go away because the need doesn't go awa

        • What is really meant by the phrase is that governments can't hope to direct the economy because they cannot possible imagine what it is that people actually want and value most.

          When it comes to things like consumer goods, government is ill-suited to satisfy consumer demand. Tastes change, and innovation is critical. Both are better handled by private entities.

          When it comes to basic utilities like water, power, and now Internet service, government does just fine. The product is absurdly simple and demand is more-or-less universal. And before the "must sell all public utilities" cult took over, government delivered those utilities at a lower cost than the now-private utility com

      • You can reason that the free market produces things most efficient. And you can reason that your socialism is suicidal by the fuckton amount of countries where it failed (or succeded if you count famine and devastation). BUT local gov could *compete* with a business (offer low price and acceptable service) and this does happen in many places happily. What you got there is government refusing to compete....
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Because the legal power to force you to pay for a service whether you want it or not is not competition? If a private concern did that, you'd rightfully howl.

      Are you going to exempt people who continue to buy the better private service? What? Nooo?

      What surprise!

      To give you a hint of what's to come, Detroit Metro airport built a massive new parking structure, staffed it, and nobody came. Private shuttle services to lots a mile or more away were more than worth it. So the government passed a "government

      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        Because the legal power to force you to pay for a service whether you want it or not is not competition? If a private concern did that, you'd rightfully howl.

        Private concerns do it all the time. They get "redevelopment funds" to build out the infrastructure, but then it is privately owned. You, the taxpayer, end up paying for it whether you use it or not, but you don't get the benefit of the government continuing to own the infrastructure and getting to benefit by leasing it to ISPs. Private infrastructu

        • In the absence of unreasonable regulatory hurdles from incumbent ISPs, new fiber providers kick the living crap out of the incumbents cost-wise and service-wise,

          Quite right. A city operated ISP without those regulatory hurdles will always win over a cable system that has to follow the franchise contract. A city "company" that has to provide only ISP services can certainly operate more cheaply than a cable system that the city mandates must provide ISP, cable, and other services. (That's what is meant by "cherry-picking". The city picks the services it wants to provide; the cable company has a contract with the city to do all of them.) That's why the city should not

          • Comcast starts with good connections to each house, and so internet service is not that difficult. Having a city infrastructure (which will typically build connections to each house) is going to cost a lot of money.

            Cable TV at least used to make money, which is why cable companies went to all that bother to get the franchises. Forcing someone to bundle a profitable service in with another service that uses most of the same equipment doesn't sound particularly onerous.

            Now, if you like your Comcast ser

            • Comcast starts with good connections to each house, and so internet service is not that difficult.

              "Internet service" on the level that Comcast operates (national) is much much more than just a wire to the house. It is a complete network infrastructure, including hardware to piggyback a network service on top of a cable television service.

              Having a city infrastructure (which will typically build connections to each house) is going to cost a lot of money.

              Yep. But it cost Comcast a lot of money, and on an ongoing basis, to build and maintain its internet service, too.

              Cable TV at least used to make money, which is why cable companies went to all that bother to get the franchises.

              Cable TV still makes money or Comcast wouldn't be doing it. No company can operate at a loss. Undercutting the existing ISPs by selectively removing costs

      • I know first hand at least 4 of the Detroit airport area hotels offer packages where you can leave a car with a one night stay.
    • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

      Money. Michigan just had a little episode involving a Senator from Comcast. Michele Hoitenga introduced a bill to block any township or municipal funding of community broadband initiatives state wide. She did this because there are some now voter approved plans to wire up a few semi-rural townships that Comcast et al. can't be bothered with, and because the telcoms and cable outfits are funding her campaign.

      People are clued in though; she withdrew the bill [stopthecap.com] after enough people noticed and let her know.

  • Is GOOD right?

    What would Comcast be afraid.

  • The People have spoken: they're tired of ISPs and their autocratic bullshit. I look forward to more of this happening around the country.
    • So how does the motor vehicle department running your ISP help?
      • The DMV is far more responsive to complaints, and operates at a lower cost than my ISP.

        It's not like a private monopoly is going to give a fuck about keeping customers happy, and at least I can vote on who is in charge of the DMV.

  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2017 @06:24PM (#55516333) Journal

    The irony of this--Colorado rejects Federal drug laws and goes rogue because the "war on drugs" has become nothing but pork for the prison-industrial complex. Now their counties reject the state's law because it's just pork for the telecoms.

    My love is that there's a fight back against these things. My hate is that we even got here in the first place.

    • by blindseer ( 891256 ) <blindseer.earthlink@net> on Wednesday November 08, 2017 @07:46PM (#55516753)

      Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

      This discussion led me to go look up the Tenth Amendment Center website. They are certainly big on letting people shoot and smoke all they want. If you think that the "war on some drugs" is just something to prop up the prison industry then what do you think of the "war on some guns"? I believe that it's going to be hard to tell people that they can smoke what they can grow but not shoot what they can build. If you think it's silly for someone to go to prison for three years for growing a common weed then would it not also be silly to put someone in prison for playing in their garage with some scrap metal?

      What is this "bump stock" that so many congresscritters want to ban now? It's a piece of plastic on a threaded pipe, that's about it. What's a "silencer"? According to the ATF it can be a piece of metal that's got male threads on one end and female threads on the other, as in it can fit a common oil filter to the end of a rifle barrel. What is a "machine gun"? According to the ATF it can be something as simple as a length of string with a loop on each end, people have actually got these "machine guns" registered with the ATF.

      I believe that what we've been seeing happen with federal drug laws will soon also happen with federal gun laws. It appears I'm not the only one. I went to the Tenth Amendment Center website and found a couple interesting recent articles on this debate over federal control on guns and drugs. I know lots of Slashdot readers don't like Second Amendment advocacy groups like the NRA, but if you are not a fan of federal prohibitions on marijuana possession then you need to have a different attitude on the NRA. The legal constructs that prohibit marijuana possession are the same constructs that prohibit the possession of silencers. If one goes then so does the other.

      Here's just one example explaining this connection between gun laws and drug laws, the connection is the Tenth Amendment.
      http://tenthamendmentcenter.co... [tenthamendmentcenter.com]

      There is one important distinction though between gun laws and drug laws, gun laws have an additional amendment in the US Constitution that makes them problematic while drug laws do not. If you believe that Colorado can "go rogue" on drug laws and expect a federal ban on bump stocks to hold up in court then I believe you will be disappointed in the long run.

      • Drugs: Potentially dangerous to yourself.
        Guns: Potentially dangerous to those around you.

        Notice the difference.

      • I'm wishing not for states rights; but for laws based on the will of the people as opposed to corruption.

  • In about 2 years 5G wireless will begin rolling out and most Americans will start getting competitively priced, high speed, fixed point-to-point wireless broadband service offered to them. The cable monopoly will be ending for everyone with line of site to a wireless base station.

    Just FYI.

  • by ryanmc1 ( 682957 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2017 @07:23PM (#55516631) Homepage
    As a conservative, free market supporter I also support this. I think you will find that most conservatives support states, counties, and cities doing this. What we don't want is the federal gov imposing these kinds of things on everyone. I would also support state single payer health care, and any other social program as long as it is done at the state, or lower, level where the people actually have a say in what is going on.
    • Actually, as a free market supporter, I can't help but think that certain services that are a requirement to provide goods and services MUST be run either by government or with relevant regulations to ensure a level playing field. Gas, power, water and yes, today internet, are a requirement if you want to open a business yourself and having access to them at the same conditions as some large corporation means that you can actually compete with them. If these services are not available or only available at h

    • I would also support state single payer health care, and any other social program as long as it is done at the state, or lower, level where the people actually have a say in what is going on.

      Btw, there's a technical problem with this. States can't run deficits.

      That's a problem because demand on these services increase greatly during an economic downturn. At the same time, tax receipts go down because of the economic downturn. The state must now cut jobs and other spending in order to pay for the increase in services, which means the state must lay people off and cut other spending. Which makes the economic downturn worse. Which lowers tax receipts and increases demand on these programs. S

  • at all? I actually have the answer. In my neck of the woods the local power company wanted a law that said they didn't have to pay solar owners for their excess power. This is obviously a ridiculous thing on the face of it, but low and behold it passed. How you say?

    They ran commercials everywhere (seriously, I kept seeing them on Youtube) with a bunch of old people sitting around a table talking about something vaguely scary. At the end of the commercial they told you how to vote. No details whatsoever.
    • by caseih ( 160668 )

      You'll have to explain what you mean. Because based on what I know about the solar industry, such a law would not be ridiculous. If you say the law was ridiculous, are you arguing that power companies should have to buy back power from home solar at all?

      Power buy back doesn't make sense to me anyway. And that's for several reasons. First, peak solar production does not correspond with peak demand. So what is the power company going to do with all the extra generation when it's not needed? It's not easy

  • This company is evil. Have you seen what happens here? Their service is SO crappy that people start to think even a Pinko Commie idea like having the government run something is better than relying on them.

    It's time we shut that fifth column down NOW!

  • I'm sure some minimal government supporter out there already exploded and graffitied "socialism" on the idea, but the state should be able to intervene and fix competition even if that means starting one or more state-run companies. The state-run companies should be privatised by IPO after a while, and the state should deny merger requests on competition grounds if necessary. Let's call it "Investment of last resort". It is possible that just hinting of starting such a company would make incumbents scramble

    • by gDLL ( 1413289 )
      You do realise minimal != no-government. Gov can compete in the free market all it wants, and is welcome to. Problem is most times it fails to keep up. Mostly what it should do is *FOSTER* competition. Like exactly the opposite of what is happening there.

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