Earlier this week, state leaders in Colorado successfully pass a law terminating restrictions surrounding Comcast and AT&T’s protectionist laws enforced in approximately 20 states. These restrictions banned cities from establishing their own broadband networks, including locations the companies had continuously failed to expand or upgrade their networks.
The companies collectively spent millions of dollars since 2005 to persuade state leaders to pass such monopolies. Unlike most, if not all, these other states, Colorado had added a provision granting its cities permission to ignore such restrictions via a referendum.
On May 1st, 2023, Governor Polis signed a bipartisan senate bill removing the AT&T and Comcast protectionist laws so residents can now have access to high-speed broadband. Colorado will also be able to capitalize on any upcoming funding for federal broadband for capital projects and digital adoption programs.
“Today, the state took a big step in establishing a competitive economy for generations to come. SB23-183 removes the biggest obstacle to achieving the Governor’s goal to connect 99% of Colorado households by the end of 2027. Each local government is in a unique position or different phase of connecting residents to high-speed internet, and this bill allows them to establish broadband plans that meet the needs of their communities,” says Colorado Broadband Office Executive Director Brandy Reitter.
Colorado isn’t the first to ban such restrictions. Arkansas and Washington State removed those enforced in their states in 2021. 16 states are left upholding the current law. In places that are underserved or host a large minority population, Comcast and AT&T both declined to upgrade their networks while basically banning said towns from seeking other options or listening to voters who often have high numbers rallying for change.
Instead of upgrading their services and networks, Comcast and AT&T took a different approach, spending millions to change state laws, effectively creating a monopoly on the broadband market. Now that Colorado has banned such practices, they are eligible to receive some of the perks of the new infrastructure bill, which has a budget of $42 billion dedicated funding to upgrading and providing more areas with fast, cost-effective network access.