U-CAN Report: July 26 2008, Orem

Today’s meeting of U-CAN in Orem went really well with some good attendance. Residents are largely frustrated at the delays and lack of information as to when UTOPIA would be deployed in their area and are very interested in having the network succeed. We had one of the UTOPIA NOC employees on-hand today (he moved from the iProvo NOC) as well as a consultant who’s been working with some of the new prospective service providers and a lot of good information came forth.

  • An established triple-play provider is really close to joining the network once they negotiate transport fees and they plan to market primarily to residences. This should be announced within a few weeks. Those of you looking for an Mstar alternative, look no more!
  • It’s possible to order different services from different providers, but the providers don’t really know how to do it. One example of this is a subscriber who has data from XMission, voice from Nuvont and video from Mstar. If you have trouble getting the provider to offer you an unbundled service, contact your rep on the UTOPIA board to get it moving.
  • UTOPIA isn’t currently equipped to handle adding new pledging cities. If you’ve been trying to get your city council on board, you need to step back and wait for a bit. Most city councils want to see how things function with the new financing and leadership before committing anyway.
  • Paul Recanzone was kind enough to show us some footprint maps of where service can be found in Orem. Stick to central parts of the city to ensure that service is available and always do a check for it before moving.
  • One interesting possibility was to market UTOPIA to cell phone providers to offer backhaul for their towers. The decreased transport fees make sense for Cricket, Sprint, AT&T, etc. and UTOPIA could bag a lot of revenue in the process.
  • UTOPIA may look at adding wireless to the fiber backbone, either via 802.11g/n or 802.16 (WiMax). This would allow voice providers to do cellular service. In the case of WiMax, it would also allow roaming on Clearwire and allow for service outside of the Wasatch Front. That’s just in the idea stage, so don’t count on seeing anything soon.
  • One meeting attendee said that he was aware of Qwest and Comcast purposefully planting moles in UTOPIA providers to try and sabotage the companies from within and that this was a primary cause of Mstar’s near-collapse. I know they’re underhanded, but I’m not sure to what extent they’d try and do something quite this dirty.
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18 Responses to U-CAN Report: July 26 2008, Orem

  1. FGF says:

    Does a new UTOPIA triple play provider have to bring their own head end these days, or is the IPTV head end in Provo somehow still available?

  2. Jesse says:

    A valid question. My understanding is that UTOPIA is still making a head end available to encourage more video providers, but I don’t think they would prohibit someone from bringing their own. The original reason their built their own was to help Mstar become the first triple-play provider after AT&T pulled out. Mstar couldn’t afford it on their own, so UTOPIA and iProvo stepped in to build it for the benefit of all interested service providers. Turns out only Mstar was interested.

  3. Paul says:

    I have a hard time thinking that Qwest or Comcast are so worried about Mstar, Veracity, Xmission, and Nuvont to spend money on that kind of corporate espionage. Maybe I’m naive, but it sounds like silly conspiracy theoretics to me.

  4. Whatever says:

    But its so much easier to point the blame elsewhere, why not blame the failure on Qwest / Comcast ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Qwest wont place moles in mstar, mstar destroyed themselves through terrible business practices and poor leadership.

    This latest earthquake in LA. It was actually a big machine that was underground, placed by Qwest and Comcast to try and take out SBC. I think they did a great job at causing the earthquake, I just dont think it will have the affect they were after to overtake California.

  6. Jesse says:

    I don’t think I buy into the mole proposition either, but it’s worth mentioning to fish for anyone who could validate it.

  7. Question_From_Orem says:

    Any chance of getting those coverage footprint maps somewhere public, one of my biggest frustrations with looking for a home to buy in Orem is having to call some sales guy each and every time I want to verify coverage.

    Maybe someone can tell me if service is available in the neighborhood of 100E and 400N, save me a call to high pressure sales.

  8. Jesse says:

    I think that the new website is going to vastly improve this and provide either coverage maps or an automated tool to check for service. UTOPIA has been hesitant to make the maps too widely available since it would essentially provide Comcast and Qwest with a target area to go after. I think your best bet would be to contact your city’s rep to the UTOPIA board (that’d be City Manager Jim Reams) to get the most up-to-date information. From my recollection of the map, I believe it’s available in the neighborhood you just mentioned.

  9. Question_From_Orem says:

    Thank you, I’ll just have to look up Jim Reams, ๐Ÿ™‚ I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t be available there, it’s mere blocks from Orem City Hall, Police station, and Library. If it’s not there, it wouldn’t make sense for it to be anywhere else.

    Since you mentioned it, I’m glad to hear that they are going to revamp their website, I’ve checked it out for quite some time now and have gotten tired of it’s tired look, any idea of the timetable on a roll out of said site?

  10. Jesse says:

    I think the plan is to launch in September-October around the time that the new construction completes.

  11. David says:

    You’d be surprised, Question_From_Orem.

    We’re located right on State St. at 284 North in Orem (mere blocks from the city center) and UTOPIA is still not available to us.

    We’ve been patiently waiting for years to finally say goodbye to Qwest, but delays have continually pushed back availability.

    Hopefully, we’ll finally have access before the end of the year.

  12. Capt. Video says:

    I think it would be better to welcome the new triple play provider without suggesting they are an alternative to Mstar. The last thing UTOPIA needs are service providers marketing against one another. They should be considered another alternative to Comcast.

    UTOPIA gains nothing when an existing UTOPIA customer moves to a different UTOPIA service provider. They already had that customer. They need to make customers switch from Comcast and Qwest, not existing UTOPIA service providers.

    No one believes it’s more important than I that all UTOPIA provides sell the triple play, but not against each other.

  13. FGF says:

    I have to respectfully disagree with the Captain. While UTOPIA first and foremost needs to get on solid footing, once there competition between UTOPIA service providers is important for the community to get the full benefit of a wholesale open access system.

    Also, while UTOPIA technically does not gain anything when a customer changes UTOPIA service providers they avoid customer churn from UTOPIA to the incumbents. Avoiding this churn is a very important arrow in the quiver of wholesale open access networks in their competition with incumbents (who are welcome to sell their services on UTOPIA if they so choose) as the incumbents have no similar protection from this churn.

  14. Capt. Video says:

    I don’t really disagree with any of that.

    Customers should be able to select and move from provider to provider, and any customer that is leaving a UTOPIA service provider should be transfered to another UTOPIA provider if possible.

    But overall, at this point in UTOPIA progress, they would benefit much more from a provider spending their marketing money to gain a new subscriber rather than move an existing one from provider to provider.

  15. Jesse says:

    Given Mstar’s shaky position and the rumors that they could very well withdraw from the service provider market in the near future, I think having alternatives is absolutely critical. Without them, customers could leave the network entirely.

  16. Capt. Video says:

    No one has been more vocal than I in wanting all providers to offer all services. There can be no better alternatives than that.

  17. Jesse says:

    I don’t think it’s important for all providers to offer all services so long as the consumer is free to choose services from several providers at once. I’d gladly pay a bit more to have data service from XMission and video service from Mstar. Many others I’ve talk to feel the same way. Not all consumers are price-driven and lured into bundles.

    As long as a competitive choice of services exists, including several providers offering triple-play bundles, it’s not important that each provider offer all available services. Besides, this thinking is what stymies creating new services to move beyond the triple play.

  18. Capt. Video says:

    I’m ok with that as the next best thing to all providers offering all services.

    UTOPIA and the service providers need to find a way to make it cost effective and easy to get all services from (one or more) UTOPIA provider.

    One problem in addition to the cost of buying ala carte services and not the bundle is the triple play provider trying to move you to all their services.

    I like the model that allows a service provider to sell the other providers services as their own (white labeled services), as Xmission had planned to do with Veracity phone IF the provider does not want to offer the service themselves.

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