Nexlight part of decade-long municipal internet in area

Nexlight part of decade-long municipal internet in area  The Longmont Leader

Nexlight part of decade-long municipal internet in area

Colorado’s Community-Owned Internet Service: A Sustainable Development Success Story

In 2013, Longmont voters became the first to approve a bond issue to build Colorado’s first community-owned internet service. Over the past decade, four other municipalities in northern Colorado have followed suit, making community-owned internet service a remarkable success story.

With Colorado lifting its restrictions on municipal broadband, it is hoped that many more cities and towns will recognize the benefits that communities like Longmont, Fort Collins, Loveland, and Estes Park have already experienced. These communities have discovered that high-quality local internet can be a game-changer in creating a more connected Colorado,” stated Valerie Dodd, executive director of NextLight.

NextLight Sets the Standard

NextLight, Longmont’s community-owned internet provider, has set a standard that has gained recognition from PC Magazine’s Reader Choice for both home and business customers. According to a news release from the city of Longmont, NextLight received the number one ranking with the highest scores the publication had ever seen.

Addressing Affordability and Inclusion

As more providers entered the market, there has been a growing focus on helping those who cannot afford internet services. Connexion, Fort Collins’ community-owned internet provider, has allocated 6% of its revenue to connect income-qualified residents. Across the region, over 2,000 residents now have access to low-cost or free internet services through these programs. NextLight in Longmont also offers low-cost or free internet to approximately 1,000 households through its Affordable Connectivity Program.

Bridging the Digital Divide

Connexion, Trailblazer in Estes Park, and Pulse in Loveland have joined forces with Larimer County officials to establish the NOCO Community Fiber Coalition. The coalition’s mission is to bridge the digital divide by extending internet service into underserved regions beyond city limits.

“Community-wide internet access is not just about convenience; it’s about fostering inclusivity and bridging the digital divide while providing a minimum of 1 Gig speeds to all. By offering affordable and reliable internet services to all residents, we empower individuals to thrive, unlocking endless opportunities for advancement and social progress within our communities,” emphasized Chad Crager, broadband executive director of Connexion.

Overcoming Challenges

Implementing internet service in Estes Park presented unique challenges. Trailblazer, the community-owned internet provider in Estes Park, had to overcome the obstacles of the pandemic, wildfire evacuations, and rugged mountainous terrain. Despite these difficulties, Trailblazer’s service area now surpasses that of Longmont, Loveland, and Fort Collins combined.

“Compared to our partners in the front range, we have a relatively small team working to make Trailblazer Broadband successful. We have found that our team’s resilience, quick action, and positive attitude are what contribute to the success of community-owned broadband. Trailblazer Broadband serves as the foundation for our forward-thinking community to bridge the digital divide, expand commerce, and achieve our renewable energy goals,” stated Reuben Bergsten, utilities director for the town of Estes Park.


Together, these northern Colorado communities have demonstrated that community-owned internet is not only possible but also achievable. By prioritizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of affordable and clean energy (SDG 7), industry, innovation, and infrastructure (SDG 9), and reduced inequalities (SDG 10), they have created a model for other cities and towns to follow. The success of community-owned internet services in Colorado highlights the transformative power of connectivity in fostering inclusivity, bridging the digital divide, and driving social progress.


Join us, as fellow seekers of change, on a transformative journey at, where you can become a member and actively contribute to shaping a brighter future.