Glenwood Springs voters OK further examination of fiber-optic network expansion |

Glenwood Springs voters OK further examination of fiber-optic network expansion

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Voters gave the OK for the city to pursue expanding its fiber-optic network.

Preliminary results show 707 people voted for and 605 voted against a ballot question authorizing Glenwood Springs municipal government to provide Internet, cable television and telephone services through fiber-optic cables, according to City Clerk Robin Unsworth.

“I’m very pleased,” said Mayor Bruce Christensen. “I think that it shows that a large percentage of the people in Glenwood Springs see the potential benefit to the community by moving forward with completion of our system.”

The vote was a required step in the city’s plan to expand the fiber-optic network installed in 2002. The current network connects directly only to businesses in some areas, but with the expansion the city could sell services directly to homes.

Supporters believe the expansion would get the network to break even or make money while bringing better services to consumers. They say it would keep money local, bring more businesses to the city, create jobs and raise home values. Critics say an expanded network couldn’t compete with the services large companies offer. They believe it would fail financially, leaving taxpayers with a hefty bill. Critics pointed to the financial loss of the current network and contend small cities don’t have the expertise to keep up with the fast pace of the technology field.

The current network has lost around $200,000 a year for the past three years, according to the city.

But this yes vote doesn’t mean the city must proceed or that the fiber-optic plan will become a reality. Another vote will be required to authorize the city to enter into debt to pay for the expansion. The cost was estimated at $12 million. And city officials have said the plan wouldn’t be carried out unless they’re fairly certain the business plan will succeed.

Under the business plan being considered, the city would sell off its wireless infrastructure and customers and focus on providing Internet, TV and phone service through to homes directly through fiber optics. The city might partner with private companies who would get exclusive rights to the fiber-optic network.

There were a large number of votes cast for a single-issue election, Christensen said. He’s encouraged because the number of yes votes was higher than he’d expected.

“I think that’s a fairly decisive margin,” he said, recalling the narrow passage of a street tax by only 12 votes in 2005.

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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