Deals with cable companies, internet providers could block municipal internet from your home

Posted at 10:17 PM, Jul 25, 2017

LONGMONT, Colo. -- Longmont recently debuted their new faster, cheaper, locally-owned internet for a majority of the city. A majority isn't all, and now residents are upset that they're being locked out of the new "utility." 

Longtime Longmont resident Steve DePlato, who is partially blind, heard about Denver7's report on Longmont's 'Nextlight' internet on Monday. It's something he wants, yet can't get. So he called us to tell us why. 

"We can't get the Nextlight because Comcast and the park ownership have decided that they want to pass a few dollar bills back and forth to prevent other companies from coming in," he said. 

DePlato told Denver7 about a conversation he had with park management of the Grand Meadow mobile home park in Longmont about why the out-of-state owners wouldn't let the cheaper, faster, local alternative in to do business.

"The phrase she used was they don't want to give up the monthly checks," he said.

"Before we build the network into the apartment complex, before we can serve the tenants of that complex, we have to have a signed agreement with the owner or property manager," Scott Rochat of Longmont Power and Communications said.

Longmont P&C owns and operates the 'Nextlight' internet service, and says not all places are willing to sign those agreements because other deals may be in place.

"There are some cases where another (internet) provider may have a marketing agreement that has incentives built in as part of the agreement," Rochat said.

Meaning a property owner is paid by an internet provider, and therefore could be more likely to keep new competition out. 

Denver7 also heard from viewers at the Clover Basin Village Apartments in Longmont. They say a similar deal is holding them back from getting 'Nextlight.'

Neither complex returned our requests for comment. 

"It feels like a little bit of a violation when I'm told that I can't have a service because some other service is paying me to not let you have it," DePlato said.

Longmont P&C says they are continuing discussions with complexes that haven't agreed to allow 'Nextlight' in. 

On the broader scale, if you live in one of the 97 other Colorado communities that have passed a ballot measure allowing cities and towns to look into municipal internet, this could impact you. 

If you live in an apartment complex or possibly even an HOA that has an existing preferential deal with a cable company or internet provider, it could stop you from getting service even if a municipal high speed connection is installed everywhere else.