Veracity Networks was kind enough to invite me down to their offices to see what they’ve been working on and chew the fat about broadband in Utah. (In the interest of full disclosure, they bought me a tasty but inexpensive lunch from Lon’s Cookin’ Shack. Appreciated, but not enough to buy any influence.) I’ve seen a lot of improvements down there and I feel a lot better about the direction the network is headed in.
You probably recall the Daily Herald running an article a few months ago regarding network upgrades that Veracity had put in place. The specifics are that they have dropped in a lot of new network gear that can handle 10Gbit on the backbone and 1Gbit to individual locations. It’s a nice capacity bump and allows them to better manage the services they have. It also didn’t hurt to upgrade from Layer 2 to Layer 3 routers.
They’ve also had to do a lot of work on getting video up to snuff. The plant down there is still using MPEG-2 which gobbles up 40Mbit per stream, on average. With 100Mbit connections to each home, it’s easy to see how that can disappear very, very quickly. Something that was causing a lot of problems in this regard is that bandwidth caps for the various tiers weren’t functioning properly. It was very easy to saturate the pipe with data and cause some pretty severe video issues. And speaking of video, the customers in Traverse Mountain finally have access to it after many frustrating years.
In all of this, Veracity has put a lot of new monitoring systems in place to catch problems much more quickly. In addition to this, they can also tap directly into each distribution point to see what a customer sees without even leaving the NOC and have setup a full testbed to do trial runs on firmware updates before hitting customers with them. I also got the feeling that a lot of the Broadweave employees who stayed on are being better utilized, having previously been subject to management that didn’t know how to take advantage of an employee’s strengths.
All of the work that Veracity has done has been instead of actively pursuing a lot of new business, and that makes sense. You don’t want to sell some wine before its time because a lot of the potential customers have previously had bad experiences with other service providers. Veracity did say outright that the commercial market in Provo is pretty well saturated at this point, so they’re focusing growth on picking up residential customers. With Qwest’s nearly non-existent network investment (which will no doubt get worse as CenturyLink steps into it) and Comcast’s ho-hum product offerings, I think Veracity’s plan to make it up on volume is a winner. I obviously can’t see the books, but their management team didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. Even if they don’t have the network fully self-sufficient, Veracity will still be hanging onto it. There is plenty of revenue from other operations to cross-subsidize it and having a full fiber infrastructure ahead of the need for it is a smart move.
I’m still kind of sad that Provo didn’t follow the recommendations to make the network self-sufficient. Some relatively minor tweaks would have balanced the books and still kept an open-access network. After Broadweave’s incessant bungling, though, Veracity’s offer is probably the best the city could do. And it’s actually pretty good.