Once again, the Daily Herald completely misses the mark on UTOPIA

It’s pretty incredible that even now newspapers can’t get stories about UTOPIA right. The Daily Herald penned a recent op-ed that managed to skip or mangle so many facts that it’s no small wonder they came to the erroneous conclusions that they did. I have to take some time to dissect the many, many ways in which they fall into decades-old failing arguments and end up doing little more than parroting the kind of tripe the Utah Taxpayers Association has shoveled since the very beginning.

First, they start off with a few paragraphs talking about 5G wireless. Remember when everyone told us that 4G LTE deployments would eradicate the need for wired Internet service at all? Or that WiFi would do the same thing? Yet here we are, two decades after 802.11 was introduced in consumer devices and nearly a decade into LTE deployments and that’s nowhere near the case. 5G will be no different. It lives on short-range frequencies that require deploying a ton of infrastructure to support. And, surprise, a big part of that is fiber to each one of the access points.

Then they declare that bonding to finish construction puts Orem in deep financial trouble. Except, well, it doesn’t. Ever since the SAA/UIA model rolled in, every bond issued is guaranteed by subscribers. It won’t even get issued until the take rates are high enough to break even. The latest news about the UIA is that it even generates revenues in excess of the bond costs, a net positive. So, seriously, where is the downside when the worst case scenario is break even?

Oddly, they then launch into concerns about Orem’s needed infrastructure spending. But what is fiber if not infrastructure? Given past results, a new UIA bond would cover some of the original bond debt and free up more money to spend on other things including roads. It’s concern trolling at its finest.

There’s one of two possibilities for the sloppy fact-omitting editorial that the Daily Herald’s board pumped out: they either are ignorant of the facts or chose to deliberately ignore them. In either case, they have acted very irresponsibly by pushing a view that doesn’t jive with reality. Hopefully they’ll be open to getting educated and publishing a “mea culpa” response.