Layton holding additional public meetings on UTOPIA and Macquarie

LaytoncitylogoIf you still have questions about UTOPIA and Macquarie, Layton wants to make sure you get some answers. Per a letter they sent to residents, they’re holding two public meetings next week.

The meetings are as follows:

  • Tuesday July 15, 6:30PM @ Layton High School Auditorium, 440 N Wasatch Dr
  • Wednesday July 16, 6:30PM @ Northridge High School Auditorium, 2430 N Hillfield Rd

Layton says yes to Milestone Two

LaytoncitylogoLayton joins Midvale and West Valley City in voting yes to move forward with getting final details of Macquarie’s proposal under Milestone Two, the third city in a row to do so. For those keeping score, this means that all of the cities who have voted on the proposal have chosen to get more details. Given that there’s no little commitment to do so, it’s a wonder any city isn’t interested in say “yes, please, give us the finalized details”.

The next scheduled votes won’t be until the final week to respond, so it’ll be really quiet. In the meantime, there’s a lot of public meetings you can drop in on to show your support. Also make sure that your city councils are hearing from you that they should move forward with Milestone Two.

Updated List of Macquarie-related Meetings

I’ve just received an updated list of what meetings and votes are currently scheduled to take place regarding Macquarie’s proposal to UTOPIA. As always, theses are subject to change and could be added to. If you hear anything, let me know and I’ll update accordingly.

Public Meetings and Town Halls:

  • June 3 @ 7:00PM, Lindon: Lindon City Center, 100 N State St, Lindon
  • June 4 @ 7:00PM, Tremonton: Bear River High, 1450 S Main St, Garland
  • June 5 @ 5:00PM, Orem: Orem Senior Friendship Center, 93 N 400 E, Orem
  • June 5 @ 6:30PM, Murray: Doty Education Center, Building 6 of the Intermountain Medical Center, 5121 S Cottonwood St, Murray
  • June 5 @ 7:30PM, Centerville: Centerville City Hall, 250 N Main St, Centerville
  • June 17 @ 7:00PM, Lindon: Lindon City Centr, 100 N State St, Lindon
  • June 17 @ 7:30PM, Centerville: Centerville City Hall, 250 N Main St, Centerville
  • June 19 @ 6:00PM, Orem: Orem Senior Friendship Center, 93 N 400 E, Orem

Votes:

  • June 5 @ 7:00PM, Layton: Layton City Hall, 437 N Wasatch Dr, Layton
  • June 18 @ 6:00PM, Payton: Payson City Hall, 439 W Utah Ave, Payson
  • June 24 @ 6:30PM, Murray: Murray City Hall, 5025 S State St, Murray
  • June 24, Centerville: Centerville City Hall, 250 N Main St, Centerville
  • June 26, Orem: Orem City Hall, 56 N State St, Orem
  • June 26 @ 7:00PM, Perry: Perry City Hall, 3005 W 1200 S, Perry

Some of these are cutting it pretty close to the deadline to respond of June 27. Payson is reportedly interested in finding out more, but their years of not attending board meetings with any regularity has left a huge information and expertise vacuum within the city government. I haven’t heard anything about Perry at all. Brigham City will be voting on the proposal either on June 19 or 26 during the regularly scheduled council meeting.

Schedule of Macquarie-related meetings

macquarie_logo_2638Want to ask Macquarie some more burning questions? Interested in seeing how your city council votes? Here’s the so-far definitive list of what is happening and where. Note that any of these is subject to change and I’ll do my best to publish updates.

  • Thursday May 22: Brigham City will have an open house at the Bunderson Center, 641 E 200 N, from 6PM to 8PM. Macquarie will be there to answer one-on-one questions.
  • Tuesday May 27: Orem will have Nick Hann at the regular city council meeting to answer questions and take feedback. The council meets at 3PM in the Public Safety Training Room.
  • Tuesday May 27: Both West Valley City and Layton will be taking votes on advancing with Milestone Two during their normal city council meetings.
  • Tuesday June 3: Lindon will have a public discussion item on the city council agenda. They meet 7PM at the Lindon City Center on State St.
  • Thursday June 5: Murray will have an open house at the Doty Center inside the Intermountain Medical Center complex. It starts at 6:30PM.
  • Thursday June 5: Centerville will have an open house, education session, and public Q&A at 7:30PM. I’m assuming it’s at city hall, but the location is unclear.
  • Tuesday June 17: Centerville, Tremonton, and Lindon should all be taking votes on advancing with Milestone Two during their normal city council meetings.

Notably absent from the list are Payson and Perry, cities that seem to have adopted “bury our heads in the sand and hope for the best” as their strategy. If you live in either city, you should contact your mayor and city council to give them a nudge.

What does the broadband stimulus mean for UTOPIA?

Now that UTOPIA has $16.2M in federal funding, the question is what it’s going to do. The money itself is specifically to hook up “anchor institutions” such as schools, libraries, healthcare facilities, and government buildings. This money will be used to run fiber to over 400 buildings in Perry, Payson, Midvale, Murray, Centerville, Layton, Orem, and West Valley City. With those connections in the ground, it will be much less expensive to build out to nearby neighborhoods. That is, provided that your city joined the UIA and is willing to finance the cost of installations. A few cities are either in opposition to or on the fence about joining the UIA, so the fiber would stop at those anchor institutions. Time is limited to get them on the boat, so make sure you’re hounding them about joining.

And if you want to, go take a look at the original press release.

Utah Infrastructure Agency Moving Forward

Remember UTOPIA’s new plan to shift the cost of the network from the cities onto subscribers? It’s been moving forward in the form of the Utah Infrastructure Agency, a way for cities to bond for construction without having to put taxpayers as a whole on the hook. So far, West Valley City, Lindon, Midvale, Layton, and Orem are on board with Perry and Tremonton deciding to sit it out. Other cities are still considering signing up for it and need to hear from you.

So what exactly does this do? In short, it’s the next evolution beyond the SAA used in Brigham City. The SAA model was to  find demand, form an SAA, and then get the funds to start construction. The UIA will, instead, get the money first, find the areas of demand, and then start construction once it becomes feasible. Just like the SAA, the subscribers that get hooked up under the arrangement will be the ones footing the bill. This speeds up the process of connecting customers while still continuing to shift the burden of supporting the network away from cities and onto those who get service.

To be quite honest, I can’t see why a city wouldn’t be all over this. There’s no cost to the cities to participate and increased subscribers will only decrease or eliminate the called pledges. Given the benefits to the taxpayer, that they are taken off the hook, you’d think the Utah “Taxpayers” Association would be all for it. (Fat chance, I know.) The good news is that any city that doesn’t elect to participate now can always reconsider in the future. If your city has already declined to join (or does so in the future), you can still pester them until they reconsider.

Note: While Orem was part of the founding group of the UIA, they haven’t taken an official vote on the matter yet. There will be a public hearing on Tuesday after which the Orem City Council will decide if they will join. They chose the new bond in a 6-0 vote last time around, but the UTA is holding their rally just before the meeting to try and pack the house with opponents and scare council members into reversing course. It’s very important that UTOPIA supporters turn out in force both at the rally and the meeting to thwart these efforts. I hear there’s going to be a fun surprise for the UTA during their BBQ, so show up and be prepared for a laugh at their expense.

Layton Mayor Curtis Takes Aim at the UTA

Apparently I’m not the only one sick of the Utah “Taxpayers” Association and their constant vuvuzela-like drone. Layton Mayor Steve Curtis is getting sick of their spiel too.

Mayor Steve Curtis said UTOPIA, and the cities involved in it, have been transparent. “There isn’t anything we are doing behind closed doors,” he said.

The association has been opposed to UTOPIA from the beginning, Curtis said. “And if there is a way and means to stir the public, they go about it,” he said.

Curtis said he also disagrees with the association’s assumption that the public pledges being made available to the project are on the rise.

This is the kind of elected official needed in UTOPIA cities, just like Mayor Winder of West Valley City. It’s about time that the cities started sticking up for themselves and their decisions against the telecom guns-for-hire representing themselves as some kind of public advocate. You’re on notice, UTA: we’re all pretty sick of your lies.

Special Note: The UTA is still a bunch of cowards. They never responded to my challenge to a debate and refuse to respond on their Twitter account. Royce Van Tassell will also abandon any discussion thread on FaceBook about UTOPIA once I jump on. What a bunch of wusses.

Broadband Stimulus Applicants Revealed

As of a couple of days ago, applicants for broadband stimulus funds are now listed on the NTIA’s website. Utah has a number of applicants including the University of Utah, The Utah Transit Authority, and, not surprisingly, UTOPIA.

Several rural ILECs have also gotten into the game including Emery Telecom and Manti Tele Communications. Emery is apparently looking to deploy FTTP to beef up their triple-play offerings and replace their existing HFC CATV network. The finished product would be active Ethernet like iProvo and UTOPIA with up to 1Gbps at each address served. A separate request would use FTTN and wireless to reach more remote areas. Manti, meanwhile, is looking to use WiMax to reach more remote areas that currently do not have broadband service. Both of these projects are good news for Utahns.

Ogden City has also made an application to provide broadband access to government services and underserved residents. There is also an application for what appears to be a city-wide WiFi network. Given their reluctance to join UTOPIA, it’s rather surprising that they have done an about-face on city-provided services. My best guess is that they were holding out for someone else to pay for it.

So what about UTOPIA? They made three separate applications totaling around $54M. The only thing available is a general overview, but the requests appear to be targeted at Orem, Murray, Midvale, West Valley City, Layton, and Centerville. One of them hints at using a special assessment area (SAA) to triple the impact of at least $10.5M of the money applied for. Depending on how fast NTIA can review and approve applications, we may soon know if there will be more money for UTOPIA construction in the near term.

With applicants asking for 7 times what’s available in the first round, it will be interesting to see who makes the cut.

Layton Languishing: No New UTOPIA Construction for 1-2 Years

I received word from a reader that an engineer with Layton City has indicated that new UTOPIA construction in the city will be on hold for at least a year, possibly as long as two years. The existing fiber will be served, but new installs will now entirely depend on either developers or members of a special assessment area to foot the bill. The city blames the slow economy and lack of federal funding for the halt in construction. Given that the first tranches of broadband stimulus funding from the feds is meant for rural and underserved areas, I wouldn’t count on any federal assistance to get things moving anytime soon.

(h/t: Dan Langford)

UTOPIA in Layton

The Standard has an article on UTOPIA’s launch in Layton with some more details as to how things are going. UTOPIA reportedly is available in an 1800-home footprint in Layton and is up to a 20% take rate so far with 40% of visited homes taking service. There’s now reportedly more than 8,000 subscribers, not a big increase from numbers about a year ago (7200), but it has taken a few months post-financing to really pick up steam.