Rumor: New UTOPIA Providers

I had an interesting conversation recently with the director of operations at a company that is one of the big players in the telecommunications industry in Utah and this individual confirmed that they were working with UTOPIA to begin to sell their retail telecom service with a UTOPIA transport. When asked when they would start providing service, this individual noted that they wanted to first be confident that UTOPIA would be reliable. It seems that they are doing testing and there’s even some infrastructure already being put in place. This is very exciting news.

If UTOPIA proves successful, I imagine that there will be a lot of service providers that will use UTOPIA as their transport in the cities where it is available instead of Qwest’s aging copper infrastructure. Ultimately, it will put pressure on Qwest to improve their infrastructure even in non-UTOPIA cities or “risk” having UTOPIA go in there as well. As we move into the future, companies and individuals are realizing that speed matters with telecommunications. Qwest has made some commitments to improve infrastructure with fiber-to-the-node; but while that offers improved download speeds, so far there haven’t been any pushes to significantly improve upload speeds which are becoming critical. Hopefully UTOPIA’s success will change that even for the cities it doesn’t service by pushing incumbents to invest in their infrastructure.

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34 Responses to Rumor: New UTOPIA Providers

  1. Tom says:

    Sadly we need to wait these things out. UTOPIA worked with another company that was doing testing. Back before anyone knew there were any problems. Had equipment installed. Even had one of their own employees in a UTOPIA city wired up with their service via UTOPIA.

    Then the company had a large management change and it went nowhere. The word we had was deployment was weeks away then nothing more was heard.

    So in these discussions. Good to hear other people wanting to hop on the UTOPIA bandwagon but do not count your chickens until they are hatched.

    The more and more talk about 4 to 8 new providers and then silence the more UTOPIA looks like iProvo. I hate to say it but best to keep the information close to your heart until almost ready to deploy. UTOPIA does not need more people able to point at problems (imagined and real) as a reason to not give it a chance.

    As much as I want to hear what is going on there since I was laid off last year. (I have avoided those I know still there (maybe still there that is) I do not want people to get their hopes up then something happen and then get disheartened with UTOPIA.

  2. Jesse says:

    Given what I know (and most of it I can’t talk about), I expect UTOPIA to do some great things once they get all of their ducks in a row.

  3. Jeff says:

    So, I take it since we are talking about Qwests Aging Copper, and nothing of Comcasts aging copper, that Comcast is in talks / testing with UTOPIA?

    Maybe I am wrong (I am sure you can confirm I am wrong, but cant confirm if I am right πŸ˜‰ )

  4. Jesse says:

    The implication is that these established companies currently have business arrangements with Qwest as a CLEC and would be moving existing customers to UTOPIA’s transport instead of Qwest’s. Since Comcast doesn’t allow any competing service providers on their copper, they wouldn’t be relevant to the discussion.

  5. Jeff says:

    Ahh OK. I didn’t think Comcast would be interested, but thought maybe they have came to their senses πŸ˜‰

  6. Mike Taylor says:

    What’s funny about this is that I just found out this information from a non-UTOPIA source, but Jesse already knew about this and far more than he can reveal because he has promised the relevant parties that he wouldn’t. He’s keeping a lot of info that he’s not telling any of us.

  7. FGF says:

    XO? McLeod?

  8. luminous says:

    It is very understandable that certain party’s wish to remain anonymous until such time as everything has been worked out. The company in question no doubt is worried about upsetting the status quo in the rest of their industry(thus becoming a target). I wonder if they are one of the company’s whose name was thrown around after the layton city rebonding meeting. =-p

    I saw some guys working on the orange conduit near my house last week, has Utopia started pulling fiber through the conduit yet and started test it all for service deployment in layton?

  9. Mike Taylor says:

    luminous, come to the U-CAN meeting in Layton on Saturday August 23rd at noon in the Davis County Central Branch Library at 155 N Wasatch Dr. From what I understand, someone from UTOPIA will be on hand. You can ask all your questions about the Layton build-out. Get others to come too.

  10. utopia the dying horse says:

    The new service provider is Veracity.

    WOW!!! now we can all get back to work.

  11. Harold Bills says:

    Please tell me it’s not Veracity. The don’t even have a clue that fiber is better than copper. There has never been a more disingenuous partner in the history of fiber to the home deployments. This would be comparable to announcing that you have a gorgeous new prom date lined up and then showing up with Roseanne Bahr.

  12. Mike Taylor says:

    It’s not Veracity.

  13. Jesse says:

    How would Veracity be a new provider when they’re already an existing provider? The implication makes no sense at all.

  14. Capt. Video says:

    Harold, your issue with Veracity highlights some broader issues, including that “fiber” is not going to save UTOPIA (or iProvo).

    I hate to say it, but I think Veracity is just using good sound business sense to use the most cost effective means to deliver the bandwidth they need, no matter what the delivery medium.

    Veracity (or others) seek to provide the bandwidth a customer is buying from the lowest cost provider. It really does not matter if that bandwidth comes across copper, coax or fiber. That’s very sad, but TRUE!

    People really don’t care how it’s delivered. The key to success is providing a product people want (voice, video, data and more) at a price they are willing to pay, with the service level that exceeds their expectation. How it’s delivered does not matter to the vast majority of people.

    If Qwest (or Comcast or wireless) is able to deliver dependable, secure bandwidth to locations at a rate below UTOPIA rates, UTOPIA has to address that cost issue.

    Finding a “committed” UTOPIA or iProvo network service provider is difficult. If the new service provider is moving their customers from Qwest, you can bet it’s because they find UTOPIA to be a better deal for them. As soon as someone comes along with a “new better deal” they will move their customers off UTOPIA and to that provider.

  15. Harold Bills says:

    Fiber is the only reason for iProvo or Utopia. Government steps in to provide superior services since the incumbents would not deploy fiber. Without the fiber, the government has no business in this business. If you don’t get that you have no business being a service provider on these networks. That is the single competitive advantage. The lack of understanding this and the lack of ability to market this advantage is a big big reason Vercity and iProvo have not been successful. If you serve a customer who is connected to you with fiber and the services you offer are no better than what he can get across copper, you better just give up! Oh that’s right, you cannot get 50 or 100 MB connections on the copper networks so for you to still think copper is an option is idiotic.

    You have to be commited to fiber and convince your customers to be commited to fiber to make this work. You make them commited by giving them superior services.

  16. Capt. Video says:

    lol…you have drunk the kool-aid and believe the hype. How cute! Fiber may be the only reason UTOPIA is in business but it’s not the only option and it’s not always the best option for a service provider.

    A really smart service provider has many options (different tools in the tool belt) and will use the best option for each customer. Which could be fiber, wireless, coax or copper. Depending upon the needs of the customer and the cost of the service. If the cost if not a factor, (and when is cost NOT a factor?) fiber could be best.

    Not all customers want to pay for 50mb or faster speeds. If you are Xmission or Veracity, and a customer wants to buy 5mb or 20mb and Qwest is able to provide the speed you need at a lower price than UTOPIA can deliver the same connection what do you do? Walk away from the business because the customer does not need or want a faster connection? Do you pay more to UTOPIA than you can get the service/speed you need from Qwest? Neither of those seem like smart business decisions?

    The end user can’t tell if the service is delivered over copper, coax or fiber by using it. They appear to be the same to the user at a given speed. Very few users “need” fiber! We should market to make them “want” fiber even when they don’t need it.

    The vast majority of customers just don’t need fiber and just don’t care about the delivery method. Companies like Veracity and Xmission were delivering service to customers before there was an iProvo or UTOPIA and will likely be doing so after they are both gone. In part because they are smart enough to understand fiber networks are one way to serve customers but not their only way. Neither company has moved all possible customers to UTOPIA or iProvo. They likely have moved the customer that need the speed and are willing to pay for it. I’ll bet both still serve many customers in wired fiber areas via copper Qwest lines because that make sense for them and the customer.

    Is not the cusre of “open access” accepting as partners those that use any network? Broadweave is totally committed to fiber. Xmission and Veracity are not. UTOPIA’s job is to make using UTOPIA a better business desision than using Qwest in all cases. They have not yet done so.

  17. Harold Bills says:

    And why is government involved in this business?

  18. luminous says:

    I neven could figure out why Utopia didnt set up a 5meg low cost tier, if they could get a broadband line to a customer for under 25$ a month they could sign up alot of people on that. sure the internet portion of that would not make much revenue, but it creates the opportunity to sell that customer phone and video services which would make utopia a good profit. I bet their are tons of customers that could be sold on a plan that had 5meg internet and cable service for 60$ a month. What is it for those on mstar right now?.. 40$+ for internet and another 40$-60$ for cable, frankly a bundled deal from comcast is cheaper. I would bet a good number of people are atleast duel play and have internet and a phone line, those should be the customers that utopia targets most. When utopia becomes avaliable in my area i will be running the 50meg service and phone service through xmission, and other people around my area probly will want other services also, but if they can’t complete price wise because of a lopsided service offering (high priced internet service) even if the video and phone services are competitive they still wont move over and opt to keep their comcast/qwest bundles.

  19. Jesse says:

    The curse of the low-cost tiers is something that the telcos went through when they cooked up DSL. Their biggest fear is that the cheaper DSL product would cannibalize their T1 business. To keep that from happening, they made sure that DSL was slower and less reliable than a T1 with a lower level of customer service.

    UTOPIA and iProvo are in the same boat: how do you market a necessary low-cost tier without cannibalizing your higher-dollar accounts and still make money doing so? That’s a riddle I’m not going to claim to have an answer to.

  20. luminous says:

    Harold Bills

    even if utopia wasnt here the goverment is still involved, the telephone company’s enjoy all kinds of tax payer provided benefits, land esments, FUSF(universal service fund), many tax benefits. And due to an extremely poorly designed regulatory structer in years past their is little to no chance of competition in the telephone industry. with Qwests new FTTN system they are the only provider for service on it, and comcast is already the only provider on their network, left alone in a few years company’s like Mstar, xmission, any clec wont exist anymore. rather the goverment is running the service themselves or not.

    This is all a problem created by goverment, sadly its going to take goverment to fix it.

  21. luminous says:

    Provide the 5meg tier to service bundles only.

  22. Capt. Video says:

    I believe Provo got in the business to have another revenue stream similar to the great revenue stream from the power company.

    Tax revenues and sales tax revenues are just not enough to support all the things residents have grown to expect from cities given the ever increasing costs of employee health insurance, benefits, gas, etc..

    Police, Fire, Water, Sewer, Parks, Rec. Centers, Arts Centers, Golf Courses, etc., etc.,. City officials can chart the rise in costs, and see that the power company is a beautiful revenue stream. Why not have a future revenue stream from Telecom like that have from Power.

    All the while providing great services to their residents that other providers are not providing. When Provo started to look at this they were like Spanish Fork, looking to build an HFC network, not fiber. Making money to support city services while providing great telecom services in no sin.

    While AT&T & Qwest tried to get a law passed to stop them, they only were able to get a law making them be a wholesaler only. Which may have been all they needed to make them unable to be successful? Spanish Fork’s network generates revenue as planned. They are not “open access” or fiber.

  23. Harold Bills says:

    Capt. Video,

    You would have been in a position to know Provo’s initial motives. Of course mayor Billings has often stated that Provo would not have gotten into this business if the incumbents would have been willing to take fiber to the home. I guess that is just more of his spin.

    By the way, provo could have been grandfathered for that law just Spanish Fork was had they the stones to push for it. But political agendas were more important.

  24. Capt. Video says:

    I should add that there was not a single reason everyone subscribed to. Some were for the service to community and revenue stream, some were more concerned with stepping on the toes of private companies.

    Not everyone at the city had the same goals or motives.

    Some (including the mayor) with strong Republican ties and beliefs did not want to get in the business if local companies would and were more comfortable with the wholesale only requirements. I don’t think the Mayor’s statement was just spin.

    That may have had some effect on the decision to accept the wholesale requirement Qwest and AT&T got passed into law rather than fight.

    To this day I believe their chance for success would have been greatly increased had they elected to go the Spanish Fork route and both own the network and be the service provider. Following the Power Company model and using the same customer service reps, etc. Reducing operating costs and increasing customer loyalty to support the city’s network.

  25. Capt. Video says:

    What up with UTOPIA?

    The local paper reported that XMission had connected a customer (complex)in Tremonton but Tremonton was not released to all UTOPIA service provider?

    Why would one service provider be connecting a customer in an area not released for sales to the other service providers?

    Anyone know more about the major outage that took place on the UTOPIA network this weekend. It may have started Thursday when UTOPIA was doing some changing to the core network?

    I heard about 700 UTOPIA homes were out, some for days? That’s 10% of the customers on UTOPIA?

  26. Jesse says:

    Capt. Video: I must’ve missed that article. Can you provide a link or source?

    As for the outage, I heard it was caused by a bug in some Cisco gear that caused traffic to get routed in a loop. Look 12 hours to deliver a fix for it. You can read more about it on the forum.

  27. Brandon Hughes says:

    It seems like Mstar is blaming UTOPIA and UTOPIA is blaming Mstar for the outage. It didn’t affect the other service providers, or Mstar’s video service, so I’m putting my money on it being Mstar. However, I don’t know for sure. Does anyone know what really happened?

  28. Jesse says:

    Other than this forum post, I know nothing.

  29. Capt. Video says:

    Perhaps UTOPIA should use this as a model?

    “Japanese telecommunications carrier
    KDDI will start offering… 1 Gbps fiber-
    optic Internet hook-ups for less than the
    current price of a connection one tenth
    the speed.…The Hikari One Home
    Gigabit service will cost … US $51.40
    per month and provide an upstream
    and downstream connection at 1G bps.
    Internet-based telephone service and
    cable TV service can be added to the
    connection for an additional fee.” (full story)

  30. Ben Saunders says:

    Of course they would have to replace their entire electronic infrastructure to accomplish 1Gbps Internet connections to the home. This is one of the problems of fiber to the premise projects, the target keeps moving before the revenue can develop.

    It may be better to get out there with solid, reliable service before they go wild with impracticle service offerings.

  31. Tom says:

    Well those that want 1Gbps can get it. And there are a few on UTOPIA with it. But standard installation is 100 Mbps. Which makes sense when we are having discussions here from people saying most don’t even need that. Which is very true. But years down the road, changes can be made as people need more bandwidth. Yes a few hardware changes but the hard part (fiber) will already be done.

  32. Jesse says:

    For existing customers, sure, it’ll cost some money to upgrade them. For existing customers, the cost difference between 100Mbps and 1Gbps is negligible and provides a lot of future flexibility. It’s not a problem to mix up 1Gbps and 100Mbps equipment either.

  33. Jeff says:

    My trying to point out a flaw in FTTH, you have actually pointed out a strength, and one of the major benefits of fiber.

    Even at 1 GB, we are barely scratching the surface of fibers capacity. Thanks to multiple colors, and wavelengths, 1GB is just a drop in the bucket. Yes, the electronic equipment on each end would need to be upgraded, but the expensive part – the fiber in the ground – is already there and ready to support the higher speeds.

    Its funny, when UTOPIA first started soliciting to the city councils, Qwest told them “UTOPIA is like a Cadillac – you dont need a Cadillac, go with the Toyota.” Their weak attempt at downplaying the importance of fiber.

    Now, Qwest is telling us we need Cadillacs (Qwest Cadillac of course). I wonder why that is? πŸ˜‰ Could it be that fiber is the future?

  34. Jeff says:

    that started off wrong. I meant to say “In trying to….” instead of “My trying to….”

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