Iowa is still the national leader when it comes to the number of fully operational owned and operated municipal telecom utilities. But Iowa could lose its lead in the future due to the flurry of activity that is taking place in Colorado over the past few years.
Over 100 cities in Colorado have held a referendum to authorize entry into telecommunications. Unlike in Iowa where a referendum establishes a new utility, in Colorado the referendum authorizes a city to opt out of a state law (SB 152) that prohibits municipal telecom. Next week, yours truly and Todd Kielkopf (Kielkopf Advisory Services) will be participating in the Mountain Connect conference in Colorado. Along with our partners Eric Lampland (Lookout Point Communications) and Ken Demlow (NewCom Technologies), our team pioneered a new approach to doing feasibility studies. This new approach, which we call "Community Engagement and Education" or pre-feasibility, is the process we used in new Hampton, Charles City, and Maquoketa in 2016. It is that phased approach to feasibility that we will be making a presentation on at Mountain Connect
Although Colorado has a lot of momentum, it's still early in the game there as most communities that opted out of SB 152 have not yet built networks. And here in Iowa, after years of little activity, we are seeing renewed interest. Waverly is rapidly adding new customers to its FTTP network; Indianola is moving toward accepting bids to finish building out the fiber network in their community; Decorah, Vinton, and New Hampton are in the midst of feasibility studies; and Charles City is expected to continue their feasibility efforts this summer. So it's clear that Iowans are not resting on their municipal broadband laurels. But Colorado's looming in the rear view mirror.
Lunch & Learn
Emergency Broadband Benefit Program
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
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Presented by the Community Broadband Action Network and curated by Curtis Dean.