Utah

Utopia network success story

Submitted by acohill on Thu, 01/24/2013 - 09:52

Here is a short news item on how Utopia, the community-owned fiber network in Utah, helped one business cut costs.

Incumbents continue to try to stop competition

Submitted by acohill on Wed, 10/20/2010 - 10:13

Stop the Cap! has an article about the incumbent fight to kill the nation's most successful open access network: Utopia. Utopia's open access network has thousands of subscribers and fifteen providers on the network, including three TV providers. I've actually had the opportunity to see the Utopia TV provider offerings, and the picture quality of an all digital TV channel delivered via fiber is incredible.

Has Utopia had problems? Some early financial issues developed because the first firm hired to manage the network made some decisions that have since been corrected. The management firm is long gone, and Utopia took network management and outside plant maintenance in-house almost two years ago, with excellent results. The incumbents in the area--Comcast and Qwest--have been invited repeatedly to come on the network and offer their service to their existing customers, but instead, the first seem to want to simply try to force the competition out.

The situation is unfortunate, but is being repeated in other areas of the country, where incumbents are choosing to try to force monopoly pricing onto communities instead of competing in the marketplace.

Disclaimer: The Utah Infrastructure Agency has been a client of Design Nine.

Broadband: "...facilitating economic exchange and the general welfare"

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 08/23/2010 - 13:26

Pete Ashdown, writing in The Salt Lake Tribune, discusses the reasoning behind community-owned broadband, in the context of the Utopia project, one of the country's biggest community broadband efforts. Here is a key portion of the article:


These interests go against broad long-term goals that infrastructure serves — facilitating economic exchange and the general welfare. If every airline was required to build their own airport and every shipping company needed their own road, America would be on par with Somalia as an economic force.

Fiber optics technology has vast capacity that allows multiple service providers of Internet, television and telephone to provide service to homes and businesses. UTOPIA and other open fiber optic networks throughout the world have demonstrated that this model provides a level playing field for competition, which in turn drives down prices for the customer and motivates quality service.

If your home is connected with UTOPIA fiber, you can choose from a variety of providers. If you are connected with Qwest ADSL2, you can choose from Qwest. If you are connected with Comcast cable, you can choose from Comcast. If either of these two companies raises its rates unexpectedly or gives you lousy service, your options are slim to nil for switching.

Utopia and other open access projects like (e.g. nDanville, The Wired Road, Palm Coast FiberNET, and others) are driving down the cost of telecom for residents, businesses, and institutions in their service areas, and service providers--especially smaller ones--are signing up to offer services. Some pundits insist that the open access model is "unproven," but their recommendation is to stick with what has NOT worked--the traditional retail triple play model. Community-owned retail triple play creates a one time decrease in telecom costs but lacks the choice and competition among providers that provides steady decreases in the cost of services and a steady increase in the kind and type of services that go far beyond the triple play of voice, TV, and Internet.

Orem City saves $50,000 per month with community broadband

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 10:03

Via MuniNetworks, a link to a podcast that describes how Orem City, Utah is benefiting from the open access, open services, community-owned Utopia network. Local governments in Virginia that have invested in open access, open services networks are also benefiting in the same way. A community broadband network, with infrastructure owned by the community but services offered by the private sector, aggregates demand across the entire community, which leads to increased competition among private sector providers, does not compete with incumbents, and when done right, creates sharp drops in the cost of telecom services. The Wired Road network, in rural and mountainous southwest Virginia, is seeing price drops of 40% to 70% on the cost of Internet access for government and institutional customers.

Utopia customers lining up to pay for fiber to the home

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 11/23/2009 - 09:30

Jeff Daily at App Rising reports that Utopia, the big community-owned fiber project in Utah, is having substantial success getting homeowners to pay for the fiber coming to their homes--to the tune of $3,000 per home. This may sound like a lot of money, but the market value of a residential home with fiber increases by $5,000 to $7,000, according to a Render study.

Homeowners routinely spend $5,000 or $10,000 or more on home renovations like kitchen makeovers and bathroom upgrades, and they rarely see even a 1 for 1 return on the investment. Brigham City, Utah is also building fiber to the home, and they are using a model I have long advocated--a pass by and tap fee. Brigham City has created a special assessment area and is charging property owners a fair portion of the fiber network, just as cities and counties do routinely with water and sewer pass by and tap fees. As citizens and businesses begin to read about the advantages of community-owned fiber (lower prices, more choice), it will become easier for these projects to start with user-based financing from day one.

Utah's fiber rolling out to neighborhoods

Submitted by acohill on Wed, 05/11/2005 - 10:49

This report [link no longer available] from a Utah resident highlights two of the best-known fiber projects in the country: iProvo and UTOPIA (hat tip to Dave Fletcher's weblog). The iProvo muni fiber is 100 times faster than cable modem and 250 times faster than DSL. In other words, it is world class service, of the kind that is common in lots of other countries. Utah gets the connection between broadband and economic development, and the state has the quality of life, especially outdoor sports like hiking and skiing, to be attractive to companies who want affordable housing costs and a great quality of life to go along with affordable broadband.

We're going to increasingly see a Digital Divide between states that get it and states that don't.

Muni fiber: 3x payback the first year

Submitted by acohill on Wed, 05/11/2005 - 10:38

A muni fiber system in Utah's Salt Lake Valley installed to manage traffic throughout the region had an installed cost of $51 million and an expected ANNUAL payback of $179 million in savings.

The Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) uses the fiber to manage more than 50 major traffic corridors, coordinate signal changes on more than 600 traffic lights, provide traffic monitoring via video cameras, and hook up truck scales.

The system has provided significant reductions in commuting time (saving time and gas), and over the long term, will reduce the need to build more roads.

Utah got this one right--we need digital road systems to reduce the demand for our old, 20th century road systems. The article does not say, but let's hope they threw in some extra fiber for other uses. Traffic management could become the anchor tenant for fiber projects in many regions, with the transportation savings helping to fund the effort and leveraging the investment for wider community benefit.

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