A total of 17 Iowa communities, including Dubuque, voted in favor of referenda on local ballots Tuesday approving the formation of municipal broadband utilities.
The victories allow those towns to launch studies and consider constructing municipal telecommunications plant, but another election must be held before those communities can actually sell bonds and begin construction on systems to compete with commercial providers.
The issue was on the ballot in another 15 communities, but voters rejected the proposals there.
Dubuque was the largest city considering the issue, and the biggest battleground. Broadband utilities have been promoted in the state by Opportunity Iowa, which is closely affiliated with a firm that wants to design and build the municipal plant. The efforts were proposed by the state's cable association and its dominant operator, Mediacom Communications Corp.
Other communities approving broadband utilities were Ackley, Anamosa, Asbury, Charles City, Hamburg, Hampton, Hudson, Iowa Falls, Lansing, Lenox, Maquoketa, Mason City, Parkersburg, Waterloo, Waukon and West Union.