Cottonwood Heights Could Join UTOPIA; Construction Progresses in Davis County

Buried in a D-News article concerning the recent construction in Layton and Centerville was a brief statement indicating that Cottonwood Heights has completed a feasibility study and is now considering whether to join as a pledging or non-pledging city. It now joins Farmington and Vineyard on the list of cities considering membership in the fiber optic project. Roger Black of UTOPIA has said that several dozen other cities currently have inquiries into the agency to find out what it would take to join.

We're also getting a clearer picture of the construction schedule. While Layton and Centerville are scheduled to have the full build-out completed by early 2008, Tremonton, Brigham City, Perry, Lindon and Payson are likely to be completed by year's end. Construction in Murray, Midvale, West Valley City and Orem is going a bit slower with completion of anywhere from 65% (Murrary) to 25% (WVC). Most of the delays in these Phase I cities has to do with getting permission from property owners to deploy the fiber to their buildings, especially apartments and condos.

Hey UTOPIA folks? You really need to start updating the website to give us better progress reports. Hearing it thought the grapevine isn't helping out. 

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4 Responses to Cottonwood Heights Could Join UTOPIA; Construction Progresses in Davis County

  1. Jason says:

    I live in Orem (State Street & 800 N area) and just got connected 2 weeks ago (FINALLY!). I am so happy to be able to get rid of Comcast, but it took quite a bit of effort to get hooked up on UTOPIA even though Orem is a member city and they are building out Orem currently, yet it was 100x worse than pulling teeth to get the fiber laid to the house even though they laid it underground in the area nearly 18 months ago. It took repeated phone calls to UTOPIA and various service providers and calls & in-person conversations with Orem city council members and even the mayor at one point. The city officials were very helpful and understanding, the problem was just on the UTOPIA side of things, they kept giving us (me and my neighbors) different excuses of why we couldn't be installed yet even though our area was eligible. The long and short of it, is it is worth the effort both in terms of end product (it is nice and fast) and for the economic benefits (competition by providers is GREAT for consumers, boo closed networks ala Comcast & Verizon FiOS). When the guys were here hooking it up into my house they said that the Lt. Governor lives in Orem and is connected to UTOPIA and that drives Gov. Huntsman nuts because he wants it but of course cannot since he lives in Salt Lake City. This could be good for UTOPIA and for other open network projects as he could be a powerful proponent. Granted, this last part is speculation, but….

  2. Jesse says:

    Now that's some good stuff to know. For all his faults, Gov. Huntsman is very good at driving policy in the Legislature when he wants something. Maybe I'll send him a letter instead of bothering my legislators and county council membes.

  3. To realize profits, cable and broadband providers look for three things in determining who gets services first: greenfields, densities, and wealth. (It is more cost effective to deploy in neighborhoods with higher housing densities, especially greenfields, and it is easier to get higher take rates in wealthier areas). Without a firm build-out schedule (which UTOPIA does not seem to have in its member cities), wouldn’t you say that those same factors are driving deployment decisions? It would seem so, especially since UTOPIA has abandoned its commitment to provide uniform and equal services for all citizens. This would seem to be especially unfair to early proponents like West Valley and Murray.

  4. Jesse says:

    Steve: Bear in mind that almost all construction was put on hold while UTOPIA pursued federal funds. I know that’s a small consolation to folks who are patiently waiting, but it does help reduce the cost of the project substantially thus leading to a better financial picture.

    I don’t think that UTOPIA has abandoned the idea of universal and equal access. The goal is and always has been to provide access to all residents in the city. It’s been hard to do that in some cases when property owners, particularly in apartment and condo complexes, refuse installation. (I had a long talk with the guys from DynamicCity where they explained some of the issues with full roll-outs.) That UTOPIA is committed to full deployment in Centerville and Layton by early 2008 is proof of this. The reason those cities (among others) got bumped to the head of the line is that the federal money has a time limit on it and must be spent before it expires.

    Is all this fair to Murray, Midvale and WVC? No, probably not. It seems, though, that the cities are being pretty understanding, especially when it all helps the bottom line.

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