In a completely ill-considered move, Rep Curt Webb is running a bill, HB60, which would restrict any municipal fiber network (but, curiously, not cable, DSL, wireless, or any other technology) from building anything outside the boundaries of member cities. This is aimed squarely at UTOPIA only, and it is meant to be a purely punitive measure.
So what prompted this? Probably the developers and companies who paid out of their own pockets to expand the network. Hamlett Homes extended it into South Salt Lake communities, and a number of businesses near the backbone but outside of member cities have done the same. These extensions help lessen the burden on taxpayers as a whole by shifting more of the costs onto subscribers, but it doesn’t cost any city a red cent.
As the bill is currently written, UTOPIA wouldn’t just be prevented from building to people willing to pay for it. They could also be required to shut down any existing services and be prohibited from maintaining their backbone that links cities together. It would effectively be a death sentence on any network that isn’t entirely within member cities AND can connect to an exchange point to reach ISPs and the rest of the Internet.
Naturally, I had to follow the money and it explains a lot. Rep. Webb has taken contributions from CenturyLink and the Utah Rural Telecom Association. What’s he got planned next? Duplicating the anti-Google Fiber bill from Kansas?