Confirmed: Infowest to Provide Residential Service

I’ve had it confirmed that Infowest, currently a commercial provider, will be participating on UTOPIA as a residential provider as part of the new UIA expansion push. Given that Prime Time, Connected Lyfe, and Fuzecore have all had to bow out for one reason or another, it’s good to know that there will be more options for residential customers who join the network in the future. I’m pretty sure they’ll offer voice and data, but no word on video options.

If you have any experience with Infowest, leave it in the comments.

Fuzecore leaves UTOPIA, Xmission steps in

I’ve received final word that Fuzecore has decided to leave UTOPIA and has sent its customers over to Xmission. Part of the problem for the Idaho-based provider is that there just weren’t enough customers available on the network to make things work, the same problem Prime Time Communications found itself in. Xmission has graciously provided those customers with a month of free service during the transition and will honor all existing pricing arrangements, though in some cases customers have been bumped up to a higher speed at no extra charge. I applaud Fuzecore for making sure its customers are well-served on the way out the door and leaving with class. Tim McClanahan has always been open with me about what they’re up to and how they’re doing and I’m sure he’ll continue to do well back in Idaho.

Personally, I don’t think the network can sustain a large selection of providers in its current state. The slices of pie get just a bit too thin to make things work, especially with such a large service area to cover. I’m expecting the provider market to pare down to Xmission, Veracity, Brigham.net (though in a limited footprint in Brigham City) and a handful of commercial-only providers. Nuvont has been slowly dying for some time now and is rumored to be down to a scant two employees running the company. I’ve been watching ConnectedLyfe’s filings with the SEC and they continue to bleed cash on an ambitious plan to stream video that I honestly don’t think content companies are ready to embrace. Their last SEC filing in November shows $84K in revenues with $1.2M in losses. Unless there’s an investor with deep pockets or some major breakthrough with a major content company, they are not long for this world.

Honestly, I don’t think all of this is necessarily a bad thing. I’d rather have a handful of excellent and profitable providers than dozens of them waiting to see who dies first. If UTOPIA can get the network construction rolling again (seriously, guys, this is taking forever), maybe some of them will come back and give it another go. For right now, this is probably what’s best for all involved.

The Need for Speed: UTOPIA's First 100Mbps Residential Customer Hooked Up in Layton

Despite the hefty $147/mo price tag, someone in Layton has some serious bragging rights by becoming the first residential customer on UTOPIA to pick up 100Mbps service courtesey of FuzeCore. Nobody else in Utah offers those kinds of speeds in the home and UTOPIA plans to up the ante even further with planned 1Gbps service to residences (though I shudder to think how much it will cost). Can competitors Qwest and Comcast catch up? Survey says “not bloody likely”.

First FreeUTOPIA Podcast This Saturday

The first FreeUTOPIA podcast will be recorded live this Saturday Feburary 14 at 1:30PM. You can listen in using Teamspeak and we may even take some “callers”. The conversation will be moderated, but Teamspeak does support text chat. To join in, connect to podcast.freeutopia.org and join the Podcast channel.

If you can questions you’d like me to ask during the podcast or topics you’d like us to discuss, post them in the comments or use Twitter with the #freeutopia hashtag.

Is the wait over in Layton? UTOPIA service may be available!

Forum commenter mabuxton reports that they’re getting UTOPIA installed at their Layton home in just two weeks. XMission and two other providers (I’m guessing FuzeCore and Nuvont) are reportedly going to have residential service available in the area and you can sign up for the install right now. If you’ve been waiting with baited breath to get UTOPIA service in the city, now is the time to call!

UTOPIA in the News, makes Telephony Online and DSLReports

Telephony Online has a great article on UTOPIA that gives some insight as to what exactly they’re doing over there. It also includes some quotes from Fibernet and FuzeCore, the new providers on the network. DSLReports also picked up on the article and offered some additional commentary worth checking out.

UTOPIA Prices on the Rise?

While many cablecos and telcos are holding the line on broadband pricing, UTOPIA may be stepping it up a notch. FuzeCore lists pricing for Internet connections that is more money for less bandwidth than we’re used to getting. XMission lists similar pricing for UTOPIA services in Tremonton, though the prices for other UTOPIA cities is largely unchanged. Neither Nuvont nor Veracity disclose their pricing up-front (at least as far as I can tell).

Commenters who contacted service providers for pricing in Tremonton have gotten quotes of install costs in the $30-60 range. It’s entirely possible that UTOPIA is trying out some new pricing models that build the cost of the install into the monthly fee similar to what cable and phone companies already do. The real question is if pricing will drop once the install is paid for or if customers could choose to pay off the install cost in exchange for a lower monthly fee. I’m also wondering if the pricing in Tremonton will be rolled out to other UTOPIA markets should it prove successful.

UTOPIA (Finally) Launches New Website

After many months of waiting, UTOPIA has launched a new website (warning: sound and Flash ahead). It also includes a form for you to submit contact information to UTOPIA to check for service in your area and express your interest in signing up when it becomes available. It also lists FuzeCore and Fibernet as providers (in addition to XMission, Veracity and Nuvont), but Mstar is still absent from the list. None of the providers on the website are shown as providing video, definitely a cause for some concern. The site is also lacking any kind of newsletter sign-up or RSS feed for updates. Still, this is a marked improvement over the presumed-dead static site that had been up for years.