(Flickr via Creative Commons)

In parts of rural Colorado, it can feel like the Internet moves at a snail's pace. That's why last month, 44 cities and counties in the state voted to explore how to make their Internet service faster. They're clustered on the Western Slope -- including in Delta, Telluride, and Craig -- where it often doesn't make economic sense for Internet providers to invest.

Not all of these places will necessarily get faster service as a result; the votes are required under a 2005 state law, which forces local governments to get voters' approval before exploring how to get an alternative to the Internet service offered by providers. That could mean investment by the city or county government, possibly even a municipally run service.

Research shows that access to more reliable and faster Internet service can boost rural economies, according to Brian Whitacre, who studies telecommunications in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University. He spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.

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Colorado cities and counties that have voted to repeal the prohibition on public investment in broadband:

(Colorado Counties, Inc. with permission from the Colorado Municipal League)