Further UTOPIA Installation Details

I just spoke with someone who’s considering getting UTOPIA installed in Orem (yes, the salespeople are apparently out in force) and got some details about what to expect on install costs under the UIA model. The cost of installation is $3,000 which is available to both new and current subscribers. If you pay up-front, you get a $250 discount and it will drop the monthly cost somewhere in the $25 range. There are also options to finance the install over either a 10-year or 20-year period. The 10-year period requires $300 up-front and about $30 per month whereas the 20-year period is no up-front cost and around $25 per month.

The real trick with the install costs is to do a quick run-down of what you’ll be paying in the long term. Assuming a savings of $25 per month, the up-front payment for installation will pay itself back in just over nine years. Under all plans, the cost of installation will eventually go away, but Qwest and Comcast will still be charging you for that “free” installation. Odds are pretty good you’ll be subscribed to Internet service for the next two decades (and if you don’t think you will be, why are you reading this?) and there are multiple choices for service if for some reason one of the providers cheese you off, so I don’t think there should be a lot of concern about not using the infrastructure you paid for.

If you live in a UTOPIA member city and want service, make it easy on the sales guys and let them know ahead of time that you’re interested.

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26 Responses to Further UTOPIA Installation Details

  1. Michael says:

    Have you heard anything about if you decide to pay it over time, and before it’s paid off need to sell your home and move? Do you get a lump balance due if the new homeowners do not want to use Utopia?

  2. Anon says:

    This is great!

    If this turns out to be right, then this is a very equitable pricing model. The devil is always in the details, but if these figures are close, and I can get some assurance of an indefinite discount for paying for my own install, then I’ll definitely be willing to plunk down $2,750 up front.

    One detail I’ll want to find out is whether or not the discount will be transferable. If I switch UTOPIA providers, does the discount go to the other provider? If I sell the house, does the discount go to the new homeowner? If not, it’ll be a much harder sell.

  3. Ronald D. Hunt says:

    “One detail I’ll want to find out is whether or not the discount will be transferable.”


    “If I switch UTOPIA providers, does the discount go to the other provider?”

    Utopia lines and ISP are two completely different things, so in a way yes as their unrelated.

    “If I sell the house, does the discount go to the new homeowner? If not, it’ll be a much harder sell.”

    The remaining amount of the cost on the plan would be charged off on the closing costs of selling the house just like any unpaid property taxes would be as I understand it. But yes the discount is a permanent feature of that line.

  4. Laurie says:

    “If I sell the house, does the discount go to the new homeowner? If not, it’ll be a much harder sell.”

    After talking with someone at UTOPIA, the remaining cost of the plan would be transferred to the new homeowner or could be part of the negotiations of selling the home.

  5. UTOPIA says:

    Just to clear up the questions about what happens to your fiber on a 10 or 20 year contract should you sell your home:
    There will be an interest in the property that will come up in title search. When closing on the home,the parties involved will decide if it will be paid off entirely or transferred to the new owner at the time of closing.
    If the original owner pays for the service entirely upfront, it will not only add to the value of the home, but will also transfer to the new owner without any additional fees.

    Hope that clears up any confusion!

  6. Mark says:

    This sounds almost exactly like what we have in Brigham City. The “discount” is transferred on because all of the providers have special rates for residents of Brigham City that take that into account. However, if you move to a UTOPIA city/area withou SAA or UIA the discount does not transfer. As for questions about selling houses, Brigham City provided this information to real estate agents, http://www.brighamcity.utah.gov/Community_Development/Utopia%20Memo.pdf

    • Mark says:

      I meant to say that “However, if you move to a UTOPIA city/area withot SAA or UIA you do not get to take the discount with you.”

  7. roger says:

    So what if your home “once had” utopia in it, and you decide to turn it back on now. Are you required to pay an installation cost again? (this was ambiguous to me). Installation looks pretty expensive…

    • Jesse says:

      I don’t believe you’d be required to pay an install cost (the CPE can be turned on/off remotely), but opting to do so means that instead of the cost of the install being rolled into your monthly payment forever, it would end once it has been paid off. The current options are to pay up-front with a discount or finance over 10 or 20 years.

      • roger says:

        CPE I assume is the connection box into the home?
        My question was whether the cost of the install would be “added” to my monthly utopia internet bill–and you think it would? Anybody know how much that monthly addition is?

        • Jesse says:

          Yes, the CPE is the box in your home.

          From the figures I’ve seen, the pricing when you buy out the install is about the same as if you effectively lease the connection, sometimes a little lower.

          • You all are referring to what we call a “reconnect”, where the resident is starting new service on abandoned fiber. Reconnects pay a $25/month fiber fee straight to UTOPIA, but without the 20 year commitment to the UIA. If they agree to a 2 year contract (to UTOPIA, not to their service provider), there is no install charge. If they wish to bypass the contract with UTOPIA, there is an install fee of, I think, $150.

            Most of the service provider pricing you see on UTOPIA has been put together with the $25 fee in mind so that the final out of pocket expense per month is still extremely competitive in the market. At least, I know that’s how we approach it at XMission.

  8. dan says:

    Be CAREFUL, the UTOPIA website basically states that once you pay off your connection fee, you have no more fees – see below – but that is NOT TRUE

    “In the UTOPIA network, your connection fee is separated onto another bill that you pay off over time. However, unlike other networks, once that’s paid off, you own the connection and you’re only left with the low monthly cost of your services.”

    WRONG, WRONG, guess what, you STILL GET TO PAY A MONTHLY ACCESS FEE: SEE http://www.utopianet.org/NAU

    Yes, that’s right, you have to continue to pay $23 a month even though you own the connection. This information is not in the FAQs and is not made clear by those selling the product. So add that into your calculations when you try to decide if this is worth it.

    • Jesse says:

      I think maybe you misunderstand what that’s saying. It’s saying that $23 of the cost from your ISP is for network maintenance. In other words, if your ISP charges $35 per month, $23 per month is for network access and $12 per month is for the actual service. The charge for installation is completely separate.

  9. dan says:

    I hope that I am wrong, and I will check into it more, but the contract with UTOPIA reads:

    “The NAU Fees shall be as set forth at http://www.utopianet.org/NAU, which Network Owner may modify from time to time. The City, or its lawful designee, shall bill the Customer the NAU Fee as long as Customer uses the Network.”

    This does not say that it is already built into the service providers fees to the customer. While the bill from the City probably comes through the service providers, when the prices by the service providers prices are quoted, it does not include this charge. E.g. see Infowest’s statement on their web page where they discuss various options and prices. For example, it shows the 50/50 triple play for $114.95, and at the bottom of the page it states:

    “Prices do not include $25/mo infrastructure fee that will be billed by your local municipality. An alternate, discounted network access fee is available for legacy UTOPIA customers who switch to InfoWest. Call for details on pricing, contracts and special offers for returning UTOPIA customers.”

    It seems to me that this is referring to the info on the website I referred to previously. Note that this same $114.95 price is quoted on the UTOPIA website – so that quote also must not include this $23 fee.

    • Jesse says:

      The NAU and infrastructure fees are separate things. The NAU is the portion of the monthly bill that goes to UTOPIA to pay for the maintenance and operation of the wholesale network. The infrastructure fees are the installation costs. Per their website, the NAU is included in the bill from the ISP. I know for a fact that users in Brigham City who bought out their connection aren’t still being billed by the city.

  10. dan says:

    I know that the NAU and the connection fee are different things. However, it was very unclear to me whether the prices being quoted by the service providers included or did not include the NAU. I was a bit confused for a couple of reasons:

    First, it isn’t logical to me that the NAU would be included in the contract with the Customer which says that the “City . . . shall bill the Customer the NAU Fee as long as Customer uses the Network” if the Customer is already being billed through the service provider. The UTOPIA site makes it clear that the fee IS billed through the service providers.

    Second, the statement on the Infowest website that states that the prices “do not include $25/mo infrastructure fee that will be billed by your local municipality” looked like it could be that fee, since it says that the fee “will be billed” – implying that it will be billed to everyone – and I know that some people are purchasing their connection outright rather than making the $25mo payment option.

    However, I just spoke with Infowest and they assured me that the prices that they are quoting include ALL FEES – SO, I STAND CORRECTED and I apologize if I confused anyone else by my own confusion! Jesse, thanks for your feedback!

    • UtahTeacher says:

      Now I’m confused. We switched to Infowest after Primetime went bankrupt and sold us to Veracity. They said they were switching the maintenance UTOPIA fee (NAU) to a separate one, and we currently pay twice each month: one service bill to Infowest and a further $25 via check directly to UTOPIA since they are not set up to do online or phone credit card charges. We’re lazy online bill payers now and it’s a pain.

      When we had used Veracity and Primetime in the past and the NAU fee was part of our monthly bill, prices had run $70-$90 for phone and internet. When we shopped around this last time, prices were more like $50-$70, but they did not include the separate $25 fee. I am blurry on the time for some reason, but this was either last spring or fall 2010.

  11. The push to simplifying UTOPIA’s price structure has somewhat ironically created a lot of confusion. Don’t feel bad, it confuses us too, sometimes.

    When Dan says all his fees are included with his Infowest bill, he is correct. But that is only because he is an existing UTOPIA subscriber that changed service providers.

    If you are a new subscriber, or if you are reconnecting fiber that has been unused for at least 30 days, you will be paying a second bill for $25 directly to the municipality, be it the UIA or UTOPIA itself. That additional fee is not billed through your service provider. Your service provider, however, should have adjusted the cost of its service to accommodate that additional fee into your total out-of-pocket monthly expense (at least, this is what we do at XMission).

    I’m a little surprised to see that UTOPIA exposed the “NAU” on their website. This is simply what they charge service providers per subscriber.

  12. UtahTeacher says:

    Thanks Warren. Customers that have been with the same provider for a long time still pay through their monthly fee? While a new customer or one who switched providers pays the separate fee?

    We have been UTOPIA subscribers since 2006 and were asked to pay a separate fee when we switched to Infowest in late 2010 or early 2011.

  13. craig says:

    I just moved and am looking into Utopia… other than me reading espn and my wife being a KSL classified finatic, we dont use a whole lot of internet to download anything other than a few songs off itunes… is the cost still worth it? thanks -craig

    • Jesse says:

      You probably use it (or could use it) for a lot more than you think. The synchronous speeds are very helpful when you share videos or photos, do online backups, or use services like Skype, all things that require a good upload speed. The connections are also much more consistent, so you don’t often run into peak time congestion issues. I’d also argue that the providers on UTOPIA are offering a better customer service experience than either CenturyLink or Comcast do (or will), plus most or all of the money you pay for service stays in Utah.

  14. AlliOop says:

    This is an old forum but am looking at getting fiber optics soon. Utopia is currently the only infrastructure available. I have three questions I hope someone will see and be able to answer:
    1) What if I sign up with one of Utopia’s providers, and pay up front or finance the infrastructure to my home and then find out that Google comes to my area (they are already in SLC, of which I’m in a suburb of), and I want to switch to them? Will they be using the same infrastructure, or be providing their own? Or will they go into areas that already have Utopia? etc?
    2) What if I start paying for, or pay upfront for the infrastructure and buy a new home without it? Do I have to start all over (it sounds like I would)?
    3) What if own a home without fiber and rent it out? Can the renter even get Utopia? If so, and he’s charged an add’l monthly fee, how does that work for me, the homeowner, down the road, since it sounds like the install would already be at that home?

    I used to go directly through Utopia prior to 2006 when I lived in a rental home. I don’t recall going through an ISP or paying for any install. The price was extremely reasonable at that time, too, for a full package.

    Whether or not I get any answers by the time I sign up with one of the ISPs, I only know that I am just totally sick of Xfinity’s 3Gbps speed at $40/mo (30/mo the first year, however). And when you only want Internet, not TV or phone, there is not a decent deal out there whatsoever. Utopia makes more sense if I want more speed.

    • Jesse says:

      1) The networks are completely separate and incompatible. Google uses PON and UTOPIA uses active Ethernet. Google Fiber will not expand to any additional cities and may limit construction in cities to which it has already committed (SLC and Provo).
      2) Yes, you buy the connection and it stays with the home. That gets sold with the home and you have to start over, assuming the new home is also in a service area.
      3) UTOPIA requires permission from the property owner to build. If they are in an area with the lease option, that may bypass this requirement somewhat.

  15. Eric says:

    I realize this is an extremely old article at this point, but I was considering purchasing the line outright for the $2750 or doing the $30 a month rental for Utopia. My understanding is that under the current model, I am getting screwed either way… if I buy outright, I spend an absurd amount of money which will take over 7 years to break even and by that point they’ll likely have infrastructure/equipment improvements, which I’d need to again pay for… if I do $30 a month, that monthly cost no longer goes as a down payment towards any cost… it is simply a $30 cost I am expected to pay forever

    Unless I have misunderstood something… you should update your article as it no longer reflects the current state of things.

    • Jesse says:

      You are correct that this article no longer reflects the state of things. You may have noticed that I have published a LOT of new posts since this one in 2011. Might I recommend reading some of them?

      As far as the install costs, that’s to cover the initial construction of your portion of the shared network costs plus the line from the curb to your house. You generally have three options: the lump sum payment up front, financing over a period of years (depends on the footprint), or the lease model where you pay indefinitely. Under the first two models, once it’s paid off that’s that. UTOPIA structures the monthly fees to plan for hardware upgrades and refreshes. Per Corning, they expect the fiber in the ground to last at least 25 years.

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