Connect Boulder - Community Broadband

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Consultation has concluded

Tell us what you think about the idea of community broadband! The City of Boulder has launched an initiative called Connect Boulder, which has two components: expanding free, public Wi-Fi and exploring options to give Boulder businesses and homes the ability to have faster, more affordable broadband.

A previous community engagement process found that high-speed internet could:

  • Enhance efficiency and quality of life for our residents;
  • Attract and retain next generation employers;
  • Help entrepreneurs compete globally;
  • Support student learning;
  • Empower individuals and businesses to work remotely, reducing carbon emissions;
  • Narrow the Digital Divide by giving lower income users access to critical technology and resources; and
  • Reinforce Boulder's tech-savvy reputation

On May 8, City Council reviewed technical analysis and preliminary cost estimates of the options to deliver fiber high-speed internet in the community. The community's feedback was shared with council as part of this discussion. Watch the study session.

On June 12, there will be a public hearing and City Council special meeting to discuss funding options to build the fiber backbone, including a possible 2018 ballot item.

Tell us what you think about the idea of community broadband! The City of Boulder has launched an initiative called Connect Boulder, which has two components: expanding free, public Wi-Fi and exploring options to give Boulder businesses and homes the ability to have faster, more affordable broadband.

A previous community engagement process found that high-speed internet could:

  • Enhance efficiency and quality of life for our residents;
  • Attract and retain next generation employers;
  • Help entrepreneurs compete globally;
  • Support student learning;
  • Empower individuals and businesses to work remotely, reducing carbon emissions;
  • Narrow the Digital Divide by giving lower income users access to critical technology and resources; and
  • Reinforce Boulder's tech-savvy reputation

On May 8, City Council reviewed technical analysis and preliminary cost estimates of the options to deliver fiber high-speed internet in the community. The community's feedback was shared with council as part of this discussion. Watch the study session.

On June 12, there will be a public hearing and City Council special meeting to discuss funding options to build the fiber backbone, including a possible 2018 ballot item.

Guest Book

We'd like to hear your thoughts about the potential of enhanced broadband, ways the city might approach the project, how likely you'd be to use this service, and your willingness to support public funding for a build-out of fiber. If you do not support this project, or feel like the timing is not right given other city priorities, please feel free to tell us that, too!

Please know that all comments left here will go through a quick check to make sure they meet site standards. If they do, they will be posted here for public viewing. So check back often to see what your neighbors are saying.

Building out the fiber backbone should be one of the city's highest budget priorities. We will need this backbone for a variety of needs in the future, including control of traffic lights, video surveillance, electricity monitoring and control, and, of course, home and business internet access. The need for a backbone should be part of the municipalization of the power grid (Muni Project), as high-speed data will be required for management of the power grid. This is something tangible that we can get done quickly. Let's do it now!

Tom Wilke over 2 years ago

I am in favor of City-run Fiber + ISP. Providing high-speed internet that is reliable and affordable should be prioritized in the city's budget. My current internet provider (Comcast) is terrible and unreliable.

Ryan from Boulder over 2 years ago

I am not in favor of the City of Boulder. What we need to do is make a law to allow competition on Comcast's network. There is no competition. This is a monopoly. Phone companies were forced to allow other companies over their networks. Our politicians did just the opposite with the cable companies. This would be a much more viable and effective plan, allowing competition. This would also pertain to existing 4G LTE and future 5G and Google Fiber networks too! Opening up exisitng and future networks to competition will drive new services and lower pricing.All this money that would be saved from not getting into the broadband business could help fund people of lower income with a city discount, if you want everyone in the City of Boulder to be connected.You can add on to this demonopolization/open networks to competition legislation that I have proposed - 1. Keep the internet neutral and 2. a tax on broadband providers to develop/create connectivity in the City of Boulder where it is still lacking.

R.Rdgz over 2 years ago

I am in favor of the City's effort to bring better and more economical Internet access to all residents and will support public funding for a build-out of fiber. I do have concerns about the health effects of so much WiFi and would like to see our investment focussed mainly on wired access. However, my chiefest concern at this moment of the Facebook privacy scandal is with the possibility that Comcast and other ISPs keep a record of every single site we visit. If the City does get into this business, it needs to be very clear about how its network configuration is going to safeguard our surfing habits. Although I do not have much expertise in broadband technology, I would be interested in serving on a citizen board that reviews privacy provisions.

Galen65 over 2 years ago

Now that FCC has given ISP's ability to price for slow and fast service, I read that Century Link has engaged a high power lobbyist to let them start this process. Since most of us are stuck with Century LInk as a provider, we are sitting ducks being targeted for the plucking. Please do make broadband available citywide so we can have swift service at low rates.

Diane Curlette over 2 years ago

Internet access is a public utility and should be run as such. Glad Boulder is taking on the big cable companies!

jstech over 2 years ago

Absolutely build out fiber to the home, and provide public Internet service over that fiber. For-profit internet service always attempts to maximize their profits (rightfully so), and Boulder is well positioned and prepared to offer faster service at lower rates. Hard to argue against municipalization of internet connectivity and services when neighboring Longmont does it so well!

donnerdave over 2 years ago

Its important that all residence have access to fast, reliable, and affordable Internet. It has become a need in our society, not a nice to have. Comcast has a monopoly that is expensive, unreliable, and not that fast. Affordable high speed Internet utilities such as Longmont and other municipalities are working great. Boulder needs to learn from the best, and do even better. We also need more Internet access that doesn't increase the wireless radiation levels in Boulder. The last thing we need is for citizens health to decrease due to excessive wireless radiation levels.

liongate over 2 years ago

A hundred years ago, telephone companies argued against government regulation by saying that phone service was a personal choice -- no one actually needed it. Now, the same argument is beginning to seem equally ridiculous when applied to Internet service. If Boulder wants to get into municipal utilities, broadband might be a better choice than electricity, an expensive, feel-good option whose actual ability to mitigate climate change seems dubious. Residents now have two choices for Internet: cheap or fast. Municipal broadband would give all of them the ability to fully participate in the online world now and in the future.

artdalg over 2 years ago

Boulder is way behind many other communities in having fast, cheap, reliable internet access. Comcast currently offers the fastest connection in Boulder and they charge $85/month for 400Mbps vs. Longmont's $70/month for 1000 Mbps (Gigabit). If you are in the right location Comcast has a 2 Gbps offer @ $299/month. Despite some of the misinformed comments here, Comcast and the other ISPs operating in Boulder do NOT offer competitive rates. I am open to considering public-private partnerships but it is clear that the ISPs serving this community will not solve this problem on their own. Boulder is home to a thriving tech/startup community that depends on modern internet infrastructure for continued success.

Sock over 2 years ago

As the FCC refuses to treat the internet as a common carrier, we absolutely need more options that are free of commercial censorship or access. I strongly support an approach along the lines of Longmont Lightwave. My mother-in-law lives in longmont and gets 9X the performance for 50% of the cost of my Comcast internet connection.

altapwdr over 2 years ago

I am a tentative yes for the project. I'd like to focus on how to make it work rather than seek ways to shoot it down, and we have the ability to see what other cities have done right and wrong as guinea pigs. I would really like to hear how you would respond to John's comment below.

shaquettay over 2 years ago

Public broadband is a must. I would give up my private internet service in a heartbeat if I lived in Longmont or could get a deal like Longmont residents have. Public Private Partnership means that the profits are privatized while the public bears the costs and risks and price hikes. Much better to own than rent for the next 100 years paying for the network many times over. Please follow the Longmont model. Please don't sell (or even worse, give) the exclusive right to serve my home to a for-profit company. No need to rush into a deal in 2018, there needs to be much more information and discussion out in public.

1973CUGrad over 2 years ago

Boulder absolutely needs to move to the front of the pack and lead the municipal broadband movement. Not only are municipal broadband services faster and cheaper than privately owned services on average, but I need a provider who I can trust to maintain net neutrality regardless of the climate at the federal level. Finally, our society is starting to rely heavily on the internet for important tasks like education, political action, and seeking employment. With this trend, it is extremely important to make broadband available to low income residents and I trust that the City will do a better job of managing this social need than the corporate sector.

Molly over 2 years ago

Boulder needs municipal broadband NOW. All of the current options for internet service can do whatever they please with my browsing habits due the rescinding of Net Neutrality Laws.

Boulderwalker over 2 years ago

I am not a fan of the City entering into the broadband service business. There are more than adequate service high speed provider options available now (CenturyLink, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and numerous retail establishments that provide 'free' WiFi). The four large vendors compete very aggressively on price and service to be my vendor. City tax payers should not subsidize another vendor (i.e. themselves) in this well functioning market.The City does not add value and as we have seen in Atlanta, the public exposure of a city's 'free' WiFi network can create disastrous security backdoor issues for the city.The City can help by 1) to the extent it can, approve more cell tower installations, 2) allow additional competition in the cable and telco markets.Thanks for asking!

John over 2 years ago

First, let me state that I am absolutely no fan of our current broadband providers or the industry in general. That said, I am always wary when hearing of an expansion of government into the private sector. I believe that we benefit the most when government cooperates with business--not coerces or subverts business. The establishment of a government entity in a marketplace must be considered in careful, sober reflection, lest we find ourselves the victims of our largess (e.g., Venezuela). The broadband market is continually evolving with developing milestones such as 5G which promise to be game changers. Let's BE CAREFUL before we do something which straps us to a behemoth of yesterday's technology at an unknown, burgeoning price.

LongtimeRez over 2 years ago

Community broadband with Gig level service in the model of Longmont would be ideal.

chrisbellco over 2 years ago

With net neutrality disregarded at the federal level, we need to take action locally. A city built and maintained network would allow us to ensure equitable access and privacy.I hope we don't tether this to the muni project, that timeline would kill the benefits of our own broadband. It should have it's own timeline, resources, and expectations.

resident over 2 years ago

I am a big fan of publicly-supported infrastructure like roads, water and sewage service. I hope the city takes account of the lessons learned in trying to negotiate fairly with Xcel and opts for a purely public option for broadband service. I would rather it took longer than be tied to the whims of a corporation.

CP over 2 years ago