Readings from Vince Jordan
Broadband Services Manager
Longmont Power & Communications
1100 S. Sherman Street
Longmont, CO 80501
LINKED IN BIO PAGE:
MAP OF MUNI-OWNED U.S. BROADBAND SERVICES:
(Story below prepared by Bill Densmore.
Vince Jordan and the Colorado city of Longmont took on the major Internet-providing telecommunciations companies -- and won. But it was only round one. Now he's working to prove that Longmont Power & Communications -- the city owned utility -- can use 144-strand fiber-optic cabling installed in the 1990s to deliver exceptionally fast Internet to city's businesses and residents.
Incumbent Service Providers and others spent $500,000 in 2011 to defeat a local ballot proposition which overrode a Colorado law banning municipally owned Internet services, recalls Jordan, who runs the city municipal broadband initiative. Now the battle is on. "In 2009 we created a ballot issue and put it before the voters to get our right back to use this fiber for our benefit," says Jordan. "Comcast spent $245,000 fighting that issue. We spent $95. We lost by 12 percent of the vote.
"Then the whole Google Fiber thing started and we were one of the towns that was vying for that nationally. Google was here three or four times. We had this fantastic asset in place. But then they learned about Colorado Senate Bill 152, enacted in 2005, which said municipalities could not, either alone or in partnership, provide broadband services unless by a popular initiative petition. The left. They didn't want to fight the State.
It was in 1997 that the city's power utility had installed the 144-strand fiber, and reserved 12 of the strands to control power substations. The rest of the capacity -- a startling large amount of bandwidth for that era -- was reserved for the city, which at the time began to explore what to do with it. "But the 2005 law pretty much locked us down, all we could do is use it for city services," recalls Jordan. But in 2011, Jordan and others organized a second ballot initiative within the rules of SB 152. "We put it to vote again. This time Comcast spent $500,000 fighting it, but we won by a 21-percent margin. We spent about $3,500."
As of March, 2013, as Jordan was beginning to connect the first businesses to the municipal network, he says the private Internet service provides are competing.
"They got very aggressive," he said. "They go door to door. They've dropped their prices. At one point CenturyLink was in town telling people they had bought our network, which is untrue. We told them to stop and they did. Two weeks ago CenturyLink asked to speak with each one of our councillors and the mayor individually. We're waiting to see what comes of that. But the horse is out of the barn, we are hooking up customers."