Alamosa County Ballot Question 1A

What is Colorado Senate Bill 152?
Colorado Senate Bill 152 (SB 152) is a measure passed by the Colorado Legislature in 2005. Among other requirements, it requires local governments to secure voter approval before entering into any type of public/private partnerships for the provision of telecommunications services.

The current law limits the ability of Colorado counties and municipalities to provide a broad spectrum of telecommunication  services, including:

  • free Internet service in city libraries, parks and community centers;
  • partnering with private businesses and leveraging government infrastructure to provide affordable and high-speed Internet service throughout the entire community; and
  • direct provision of broadband services by municipal governments.

What is the actual ballot language?
Without increasing taxes, shall the county of Alamosa, Colorado be authorized  to provide any or all services currently restricted by title 29, article 27, part 1, of the Colorado revised statutes, specifically described as high speed internet access (“advanced service”), “telecommunications service,” and “cable television service,” as defined by the statute, including, but not limited to, any new and improved high bandwidth services based on future technologies, either directly or indirectly with public or private sector partners or providers, to potential subscribers including, without limitation, others service providers and residential, commercial and governmental users within Alamosa county?

What does a “YES” vote do?
A “Yes” vote would “opt out” of SB 152 allowing the county to form partnerships with local Internet providers in order to speed up the deployment of high speed internet services in the Alamosa area.  A yes vote would also allow the county to apply for grants that would help fund future broadband infrastructure needed for economic development.

What does a “NO” vote do?
A “No” vote would leave the existing SB 152 restrictions in place including restrictions on grant funding.

How is the exemption from SB-152 expected to benefit the Alamosa community?
Voters’ approval of ballot measure 1A, an exemption from SB-152, would restore to Alamosa the autonomy that all Colorado counties had prior to 2005, especially local authority to facilitate the provision of community broadband services by leveraging the county’s physical assets and leasing, selling capacity, or granting similar rights to one or more private providers.

Alamosa’s citizens use the Internet for activities ranging from world-class unmanned Aircraft research, online learning and collaboration, to home entertainment and shopping. Alamosa is the ideal place to install high-speed broadband because of its large student population and relative geographic isolation. Teleworking and home-based businesses are common in Alamosa, and would significantly benefit from increased broadband speed.

What are some of the expected benefits of high-speed broadband services in Alamosa?

  • Intensified innovation by local businesses. Better access to high-speed broadband will increase the county’s ability to retain companies that need and demand this level of service.
  • A more connected community with new avenues for citizen engagement in local decision-making, new frontiers for digital governance, and new opportunities for wired social spaces and creative networking.
  • Enhanced efficiency and improved quality of life, as Alamosa residents and businesses are able to do more, more quickly, with less frustration.
  • Inclusive internet access as Alamosa County works with partners to ensure that everyone in the community is wired, connected, and empowered to participate, innovate, and succeed, eliminating the digital divide.
  • Access to TelaHealth.  TelaHealth encompasses a broad variety of technologies and tactics to deliver virtual medical, health, and education services.

Is the county planning to create a public broadband utility?
Not at this time.

Voters’ passage of the ballot measure would allow the county to begin exploring options to make its assets available to serve the broadband needs of Alamosa residents, students and businesses, most likely through a public-private partnership, but conceivably through providing direct services. Even if the county eventually made plans to create a broadband utility, it would not prevent existing companies from continuing to provide broadband services.

Do existing cable and Internet companies provide high-speed Internet in Alamosa?
Yes.

As in many other Colorado communities, Alamosa residents and businesses have a limited choice of broadband providers. Existing providers have few incentives to provide the more affordable and higher-speed services that might otherwise exist in a more competitive environment.
Voters’ approval of an exemption of SB-152 would not prohibit either existing or new broadband providers from competing in the Alamosa broadband market.

What is broadband fiber?
Broadband fiber is fiber-optic cable, typically run underground. Fiber carries passive, symmetrical signals via modulated light. Fiber-optic connections are very reliable and can quickly carry large amounts of data over long distances. Fiber-optic speeds range from 10 megabits to 10 gigabits per second, compared to 20 to 100 megabits per second for a typical cable Internet connection.
Fiber-optic cable provides a symmetrical connection, allowing data to flow in both directions simultaneously with no reduction in speed. Unlike cable Internet, fiber-optic cable is a dedicated Internet connection and is not shared with cable services.

Why does Alamosa need faster Internet service?
Access to broadband service is no longer a luxury, but increasingly a fundamental need for Colorado residents, students and businesses. Broadband service has become similar to other basic services such as clean water, safe roads, and public schools.
Broadband technology has advanced significantly since 2005, particularly the technology that enables what Alamosa residents and businesses regard as “high-speed” broadband service. Broadband fiber increases internet connection and browsing speeds, allowing users to more quickly access online information and resources.

Are other Colorado cities exempt from SB-152?
Yes.

Voters in nearly 100 Colorado cities and counties have exempted themselves from SB-152, passing measures affirming their communities’ rights to provide certain broadband services.

What are the arguments against opting out of the restrictions of SB-152?  
Research has indicated that any opposition related to these elections is mostly driven by competition concerns from providers.