Prime Time Communications Announced as New Triple-Play Provider on UTOPIA

Chalk up another one for UTOPIA. Today they announced having scored Prime Time Communications as a new service provider and one that brings their own video product. Mstar now has some real triple-play competition including in the HD market. Prime Time is in a few private communities including Sun River in St. George and Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, NV.

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34 Responses to Prime Time Communications Announced as New Triple-Play Provider on UTOPIA

  1. Mike Bignell says:

    At $93 per month for internet and TV no thanks I’ll stick with Comcast (pricing is best guess looking at their other communities). Hopefully with UTOPIA providing the fiber it will be cheaper.

  2. Jesse says:

    I don’t see any UTOPIA pricing on their website just yet. I would bet it will be cheaper since 1) they have competition and 2) they already paid for the headend in St. George that I presume will provide the video feed.

  3. Mike Bignell says:

    You are correct on the St. George headend. On Saturday when they announced them as a service provider they indicated that they would tie into the utopia system in St. George.

  4. Capt. Video says:

    Price is what it’s really all about to some degree. (see below on 2/3 would switch for a 20% saving)

    “A new report by research firm Strategy Analytics pegs Verizon FiOSTV users as the most satisfied pay TV customers. The survey, which polled 842 US Digital Television subscribers during the second half of last year, found that 89% of FiOSTV customers were “somewhat” or “very” satisfied with the service. In comparison, customers of AT&T’s U-Verse, DirecTV or Dish Network came in with 80% of customers saying they were “somewhat” or “very” satisfied. Cable companies saw less positive rankings with a 72% rating Comcast, a 67% rating for Cox and a 65% satisfaction rating for Time Warner Cable. Loyalty is fleeting though: the survey found that about two-thirds of those polled would switch carriers with a price break of 20% or higher.” (from the Jim Ballard list)

    Look like they only offer about 75 channel (plus premium movie channels)? But it appears to have most of what everyone would want.

    The company looks a little like a Broadweave?
    Now to me, that’s good but to many on this list that would not make them happy? Small private company that serves a few private developments…similar to Traverse Mountain and the St. George development Broadweave has?

    I wish them well. At least UTOPIA should make something charging for the fiber link to St. George for video. That should help.

  5. Jesse says:

    Geeze, Capt, don’t insult them. šŸ˜‰

    Lake Las Veags, one of Prime Time’s main developments, is a pretty posh master-planned community with multi-million dollar homes and fancy resorts. Traverse Mountain is an unremarkable middle-class neighborhood (though I’m sure it’s quite lovely). Prime Time has also been providing video service on its own rather than buying into a system and has a much longer company history.

    And at least they don’t have an F rating from the BBB.

  6. Capt. Video says:

    I’ll leave it at hats off to UTOPIA for adding another provider.

    Prime Time Communications looks good to me.

    Looks like they do analog cable (over fiber?) and QAM (standard digital cable TV technology) for their digital tier in Lake Las Vegas?

    Pay per view but no mention of VOD?

    Clicking on the St. George link brings up nothing?

  7. steve N says:

    I don’t know why Broadweave is even brought up in this conversation, first off they are having a hell of a time just running Iprovo eg billing, employees, funding, video, and should I go on? second they have never done video before iprovo there still learning.

  8. Robert says:

    Prime Time is miles ahead of Broadweave. There is no comparison. Only Provo could pick a company as incompetent as Broadweave.

  9. Capt. Video says:

    I’m not sure about this…but I think Broadweave had put in an IP headend and was delivering IP video to a few customers in their St. George area system before they bought iProvo?

    If you hold up delivering video as the holy grail, all UTOPIA service providers but MStar fall short?

    The comparison I was making was they might be a small service provider that provided service to a “captive audience”, only in “private developments”. I did not know this as fact, but from a quick look at the web site that’s what it looked like.

    I was NOT making the comparison as a negative comment on Prime Time Communication.

    While I fully support UTOPIA adding service providers, I suspect no small service provider can really make a difference for them. (Did I mention they have 1/2 a BILLION dollars in debt?)

    I believe they need to add a service provider that can invest millions in marketing and loss leader promotions (that include free installs) that will bring tens of thousands of new customers. For the most part, I believe they are just splitting customers between more providers and adding a small number of “new” (customers that would not have signed up with existing providers). That said, the addition of video in areas where it’s not offered it definitely a plus. I wish Prime Time well!

  10. Capt. Video says:

    I mean all former service providers. Now, all would fall short of that standard but Prime Time and Mstar.

    But of course, not delivering video does NOT mean you are a bad service provider. UTOPIA has some very good service providers that don’t offer video.

  11. insider says:

    So if prime time is mstar does that mean thay get xionwave in the deal (mstar other company)

  12. Justin says:

    primetime purchased Mstar, they are not competing with them…At least this is the information I am receiving.

  13. Jesse says:

    Capt: The point is that video is, in your words, an “expected foundation service”. And you’re right. UTOPIA has a lot of great double-play ISPs, but the inability to deliver video hurts overall revenues. If you can deliver video but do it poorly or with inconsistent quality, that hurts even worse than not having it at all.

  14. insider says:

    what about mstar debt to utopia of over 1 million

  15. Jesse says:

    I would imagine that buying a company means buying any outstanding debts they hold.

  16. Capt. Video says:

    Amen Jesse!
    lol…you know your preaching to the choir on the value of video and the need for the triple play.

    I would not place any problems with the current video at MStar’s feet. The only issues that I am aware of are ALL UTOPIA issues.

    UTOPIA ALONE selected the middleware, headend provider and the set top boxes as well as the VOD servers and security. I would suggest that any and all “video problems” are directly related to one or more of those factors which MStar had no say in or control over.

    IF video problems have hurt UTOPIA they must accept FULL responsibility and should not look to MStar.

    As an example I point to the UTOPIA VOD, which has not worked properly for many months…because of UTOPIA’s unwillingness or inability to fix the problem after repeated requests from Mstar.

    While I suspect they could have fixed the problem and elected not to as a way to “punish” MStar, the reality is that made UTOPIA look bad and has cost them (and MStar) subscribers.

    Is that another example of cutting off your nose to spite your face….like removing MStar from the UTOPIA web site?

  17. Jesse says:

    Capt: UTOPIA selected those things as part of a joint agreement with Mstar and iProvo. After HomeNet failed and AT&T pulled out, Mstar said “hey, we want to do video but can’t really afford it”. The deal is that the networks would buy and build what was necessary to deliver video and Mstar would provide the actual service. I don’t think that the end result would have been too different had Mstar fronted the money (excepting that it was money they didn’t have). Everyone involved were greenhorns in video services.

    Given that Mstar was rumored to not be paying their UTOPIA bills, what would it profit UTOPIA to keep on signing up Mstar customers? What good are customers if you never see the money? Encouraging customers to go to Mstar at that point would be encouraging further unpaid bills.

  18. insider says:

    from what i have heard utopia going to forgive a lot of the debt

  19. Robert says:

    There may have been a very different result if the Amino set top box had not been selected by this group. This was and is the weak link. Whoever picked this dog really blew it.

    Prime Time better be using a better set top box or you will see more of the same.

  20. Capt. Video says:

    The more I research Prime Time Communications the more I like them. They appear to be a professional group with the ability to deliver a good triple play product.

    I believe they will be a plus for UTOPIA. I hope the rumors of them buying MStar (heard first on this blog) come to pass. I’ve always been bothered by the MStar/UTOPIA relationship and if MStar’s being purchased by them improves that all will benefit.

  21. Capt. Video says:

    Addressing the Amino comment:

    Yes the Amino 120 is a real problem. The Amino 110 worked fine and the Amino 500 was perhaps acceptable. But UTOPIA did buy almost all 120’s. This box has a number of issues but when combined with variable bit rate IP video (about 1/2 the channels from the iProvo headend are delivered as variable bit rate vs. constent bit rate for the other half) the worst of them come out.

    The problem for anyone is the replacement cost. Which could run as high as 1/2 million dollars. Assume perhaps 2000 boxes at $200 each (or more if you go with HD/DVR) plus labor to visit homes that cannot do the switch themselves. (Boxes can be connected via 3-4 different connections and cables, mailing boxes and having customer do it themselves would be very difficult.)

    But you are right about Amino being a problem. In defense of those that did buy the boxes (like me), we were told the problem (video freezing) would be fixed with a software patch to the middleware as so many other problem had been. We never suspected it was a hardware problem. By the time we were told the problem could not be fixed, Provo had purchased a few hundred boxes and UTOPIA had purchased perhaps 10,000?

    To Broadweave’s credit, they proactively started a program to replace the Amino 120 boxes in Provo. To the best of my knowledge, UTOPIA did not?

  22. Jesse says:

    Capt: The buy-out is no rumor. The press release came out this morning. I had heard about it a week prior.

  23. luminous says:

    This is wonderful news, a reliable triple play provider with 350+ channels. Now Utopia needs a video phone provider, some phones like the verizon hub, and another 10k customers.

    Really I think things are looking up for Utopia, Their new wholesale pricing model has got to be improving the ARPU, lots of new installs going in multiple city’s, fuzecore offering wireless through Utopia transport, And getting rid of Mstar certainly won’t hurt hehe.

  24. Robert says:

    Prime Time is not new to Utah having partnered with Triaxis in the Sun River development in St. George. The word I hear is that they would have made a bid for the iProvo network had Provo city went public with the selection process. Perhaps there was a better plan B…

  25. Capt. Video says:

    Here’s a link to a press release that says Prime Time plans to purchase Mstar next month.

    It appears Prime Time has only 5,500 subs in 5 states. MStar has almost that many, so they will about double in size if the deal closes.

    I wish them both success!!!

  26. Jesse says:

    insider: I have it on good authority that Prime Time assumed all of the Mstar debt and will see it repaid. The other providers would have screamed bloody murder had any other arrangement been reached.

  27. Robert says:

    This business of acquiring the Mstar debt is confusing. It does not seem that Mstar has anything to show for the debt. The customers are there for the taking. Sorry but I have to see this move as a negative. They have the benefit of seeing the balance sheets but this concerns me.

  28. Capt. Video says:

    I would question the statement that the “MStar customers are there for the taking”.

    I would suggest that the deal included a repayment of the past due debt over a very long period.

    Overall, a win-win? UTOPIA gets the past due amount paid to them and Prime Time gets the customers and Mstar’s assets including the valuable (to an operator doing video) NCTC membership?

    I’ve not seen anything that says this is a done deal. (Think hatched chickens?) I wish them well and hope they can close the deal and make it work.

  29. Capt. Video says:

    We are 6 weeks into this post and there is no listing of Primetime on the UTOPIA web site as a provider?

    Also nothing new on the Primetime purchase of Mstar which was reported in the Daily Herald in Feb. (planned to take place in March)?

    It also might be worth noting that UTOPIA’s clock is ticking on their video problems. The headend that was originally planned to be up around 1st of the year…then delayed until March(?) and then delayed again until May….is still having trouble getting up and working. They are pushing hard to get an extension.

    The problem is that UTOPIA is running out (or perhaps has run out) of extensions from Provo City. A friend at a programmer told me they finally received official notification from NCTC & Provo City that Provo City sold to Broadweave. I suspect that could mean that Provo will no longer be in a position to extend the headend contract with UTOPIA (no longer having the contracts as they have been transferred to Broadweave).

    We could have the makings of a minor(?) UTOPIA train wreck here. Just switching to another headend if everything went smoothly would cause significant problems requiring the replacement of almost every STB on the network at a cost to someone of between 1/4 and 1/2 million dollars. But if you lose the current headend and the new headend is not ready or the headend is ready but the STB switch is not complete it could be ugly!

  30. Jesse says:

    Capt: From what I understand, it’s just a matter of negotiating contracts with a few remaining networks and the new headend will be ready to go. I’m sure you can appreciate how much work that process can be, even when all of your ducks are in a row.

    Despite the acrimony between the two, I would bet that Broadweave would like to keep the UTOPIA revenue as long as possible given their cash flow situation. It would probably also be in Broadweave’s interests to use the change in management to start fresh with UTOPIA and seek to become a provider on the network once again. I don’t think the situation is as dire as it once was.

    I don’t like that the website isn’t quickly updated either. It kind of defeats the purpose of having a CMS. If I were doing things, I’d probably scrap the new site and drop Joomla or WordPress into place.

  31. Capt. Video says:

    I attended a cable convention yesterday and heard a rumor that Primetime has filed for bankruptcy.

    I did a Google search and sure enough, they filed on Jan 29th.

  32. Jesse says:

    The person or persons spreading that rumor are participating in half-truths. Several LLCs held by Prime Time’s parent company filed bankruptcy. This has zero bearing or effect on their UTOPIA operations.

  33. Capt. Video says:

    I think even with a bankruptcy filing by Primetime that would not automatically mean anything to UTOPIA. Companies file and continue to operate all the time.

    As I said, a Google search shows a Primetime Communications Bankruptcy filing.

    It just shows how difficult it is to operate in this arena. Think of the number of companies involved with iProvo and UTOPIA that could not make it….always it’s the companies that don’t have an already existing “other” business revenue stream. Those companies trying to be successful only as FTTH providers or over builders to incumbents?

    It’s a tough business!

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