Lindon says no to Milestone Two, and it looks like Vivint Wireless may have caused it

Lindon City LogoIn what is not a terribly surprising move, Lindon has decided not to move forward with Milestone Two from Macquarie by a unanimous vote. This makes them the first (and so far only) city to not move forward on the proposed deal to complete the network. While Lindon could reconsider sometime in the next nine days, it seems very unlikely.

Sources tell me that the council listened very closely to intense efforts by Councilmember Caroyln Lundberg to put the deal on ice. It just so happens that her husband, Dean Lundberg, is Vice President of Operations at Vivint Wireless. You may recall that Vivint is working on doing a pilot program of wireless mesh home Internet access here in Utah, so it appears that they, in a very CenturyLink-like move, have used inside connections on a city council to derail potential competition that would ruin a multi-million dollar investment.

Of course, Lindon is going to be in for a very rude awakening in the coming months. They will still be on the hook for the bond, and they will have to cough up their share of the operational shortfall to keep the network running or face the very real possibility of turning off Internet access to 45% of their residents. Though 70% of Lindon residents residents are reportedly not fans of the utility fee, I’d bet a similar percentage doesn’t want to face the ugly fiscal realities of the other options left on the table.

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32 Responses to Lindon says no to Milestone Two, and it looks like Vivint Wireless may have caused it

  1. Nate says:

    Dean had so much BS to spout out. He was proudly wearing his ISP hat which is ridiculous as you could tell he did not want this as a competitor. I live in Lindon and I fear that this is a bad move. Macquarie may not be the best option, but I don’t think we have a better one at this point unless we want it to go dark. If my fiber gets shut off I am probably going to move. I can’t stand the crooks at Comcast or CenturyLink and I sure don’t want flakey wireless bouncing off my neighbors houses to get to the node down the street. Latency nightmare.

    Lots of misinformed residents. They are brainwashed and don’t realize the benefits of Utopia.

  2. Ronald D. Hunt says:

    These wisp’s are worse then pyramid scheme’s, they lack any real world practicality, often fragrantly violate FCC rules for transmission power in the unlicensed bands, Drop out whenever someone turns on a cheap Chinese made microwave as they use the same frequency, even under good conditions suffer bad latency, illegally interfere with everyone’s wireless networks.

    Lindon should do a little studying of a little thing called spectral efficiency. Flat fact is wireless bandwidth has a rather low upper limit, especially so because of the restrictions placed on it to prevent interference, and due to the limited band space in which wisp’s can operate, and due to the existing users of said bands.

    And don’t let them play games with fix point wireless and directional antenna’s, those still increase the overall noise floor, due to reflection and atmospheric scattering of the signal. Fixed point wireless merely delays the point where you hit the limit.

    A good example and one people might be aware of is, sprints fixed wireless broadband service(Sprint Broadband Direct) that closed down a few years ago. And it had a dedicated band, custom designed hardware, and a custom radio modulation scheme going for it. It couldn’t even hit 1% of the customer base in the area’s where it was available.

    And don’t let them weasel out of it, by telling you technology has improved, that is a half truth, Yes we can push bits faster, no we haven’t solved the mutual interference problems inherent of the unlicensed bands, And the few advances we do have in this area don’t help directional antenna’s, because these advances are almost all centered around making the signal more direction(beam forming for example), or taking advantage of short range reflection to abuse multiple signal paths to increase bit rates(this doesn’t help on long range, the signal bounced off something to far off just increases the noise floor).

  3. David says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lindon try to reverse course within two years of the Macquarie deal going through in other UTOPIA cities and have them come looking for a way to have Macquarie revive their network after they have seen the benefits of it at work elsewhere.

    • Justin Sharp says:

      Assuming the deal can even go through if some cities opt out. Macquarie made it pretty clear at the Layton meeting that they don’t really want an ala-carte number of cities agreeing to terms. The numbers only work if all (or most) cities sign up.

      I just hope this doesn’t kill the deal for the rest of us in phase 2/3 (Layton) who got screwed with a huge bond payment and no network to speak of.

      • David says:

        That’s true. Macquarie has no incentive to take on a small scale project. If too many of the UTOPIA cities opt out they’ll simply walk away with no deal. I hope all the other UTOPIA cities move forward without Lindon and make this a reality. Then I hope it will expand to other cities.

        • Jesse says:

          The vote right now is 4-1 in favor. That covers almost half of the total addresses to be passed. It’s still probably big enough to be feasible.

  4. Scott McIntyre says:

    I hear Centerville City had a lengthy meeting last night too. They are scheduled to vote next week. All the councilmember emails involving this deal are going to be added to the public record. I hear one council member in particular just about suffered a heart attack when he heard his city emails would be seen by the public. May be some interesting reading there. 🙂

    • Jesse says:

      *Could* be seen by the public. Someone would still have to file a GRAMA request and then go through all of the messages to find any juicy bits. Even then, they’d have to find an audience for it.

  5. Todd says:

    I attended the meeting last night. There was almost 2 hours of comments — attendees seemed to be split about 50/50. However, there is no political will on the current council for moving forward. Those council members who saw the original problems with monopolies and poor service in Lindon are no longer serving. Matt Bean has always been opposed to UTOPIA — I sat near him in the meeting when the UIA agreement was decided (he was not on the council) and heard him mutter his opposition when it passed. He stated last night his opposition to public involvement in supplying internet access. The other council members are relatively new, and appeared to be easily swayed by the negative comments and the survey showing 70% opposition to the utility fee. Councilmember Lundberg was just recently appointed to the council to replace Mayor Acerson — she was not elected. I don’t know her motives — just that she cited the survey and the “will of the citizens”. My sense is that Mayor Acerson may be open to the idea of the deal, but he is not a voting member, so his opinion, whatever it may be, doesn’t hold too much weight.

    What is lacking is true vision of the possibilities of this deal, and the realities of life without a deal. I spoke in favor of the deal, and tried to point out that residents are currently paying $13 a month in bond costs ($400K annually / 2500 households). We are on the hook for that for the next 27 years. We can continue to pay that and potentially have nothing to show for it, or we can pay $18-20 a month for 30 years and have a viable network. Those comments fell on deaf ears. My sense was they are simply tired of dealing with the issue and want to cut and run, rather than find a solution. They are tired of all of the broken promises and mismanagement in the past.

    I fear for the future of UTOPIA in Lindon — there is now a real possibility that it will go dark, or perhaps be acquired by a for-profit venture and we will lose our open network, with all of the benefits of competition and choice that it provides. Sadly, with the current council, I don’t see things changing.

    • Nate says:

      Todd, I applauded your comment as did a few others (may not be acceptable, first hearing I have been to). The public needs better information about this deal other than jumping to conclusions because Utopia has struggled in the past. I can’t stand the thought of our city losing UTOPIA because of our council’s poor decision. Shame on them.

      • Todd says:


        Thanks for your support. I did hear a few audience members applaud — my deaf ears comment referred to the council. I think that they all had their minds made up prior to the meeting (which is understandable), and so the public comments really had little influence at this stage of the game. It was obvious that many members of the public “get it”, and recognize the valuable asset we have in Lindon. I wish there way to structure it differently than the mandatory utility fee — the rest of the survey showed high satisfaction levels with current service, and their desire to have the service — the fee was the killer. I’d gladly pay more as a UTOPIA customer to alleviate the need to charge those who do not want the service.

    • Jonathan K says:

      Did anyone bring up that if the network were to go dark the debt would be called?

    • David Burr says:

      Todd “be acquired by a for-profit venture”

      Lindon City does NOT own the fiber, the utopia cities do. therefor it will not be sold.

      • Justin Sharp says:

        Interesting, I wondered about this when I saw the article about West Valley City’s decision to vote for the deal a couple weeks back. They mentioned sale as a possible (non) option but said they’d get at most pennies on the dollar.

        So the individual cities don’t own the fiber in their cities? That’s a good thing I guess. That way cities that were built out first can’t just completely screw over the cities that have had to wait.

    • Justin Sharp says:

      It’ll be acquired for pennies on the dollar, the city will still owe the bond payments and the citizens will likely get service (some day) at a much higher price than they would’ve otherwise paid (not including the bond payment portion).

      Sadly this is how a lot of telecom has been funded. That is how XO acquired their vast amount of fiber in Utah. I believe they were NextLink before. Someone spends investor money to pull fiber, then that someone goes bankrupt and a viable business comes in to get the asset for next to nothing, screwing the investor.

      In this case it’s the citizens of Lindon, rather than some Wall Street investors, that will be the bag holders since those bonds are backed by tax revenue.

  6. David Burr says:

    I don’t think Lindon opting out is so horrible.

    Lindon has a pretty complete build. But finishing Lindon is pretty expensive, its very rocky and thus expensive to build fiber.

    So i dare wonder if them opting out wont actually be a cost savings to Macquarie and the Utopia cities…

    Lastly, the residents still have to pay their $25/30 monthly fee (instead of $18/$20) and the city still has bond payments and operation expenses. so what sense did this make?

    The minimal (overall) cost for Lindon to progress to milestone2 just is not worth their loss at negotiations in milestone2 and political disfavor.

  7. Mike Porter says:

    This brings up an interesting question.

    If Lindon is on the hook for operational shortfalls, but everyone else signs on to macquarie, there won’t BE any shortfall, will there?

    • David Burr says:

      Macquarie takes over operations and shortfalls.

      Cities not joining will be required to pay Macquarie for operations (hardware refreshing, NOC, maintenance).

      They also maintain their debt with no hope at a repayment plan via Macquarie.

      there is no free ride option.

  8. Nate says:

    Just thinking about last night, Councilmember Lundberg looked like she was going to cry when she mentioned she did not want to proceed to M2. Odd.

  9. Drew says:

    As you may or may not have heard, there was a short-ish presentation given to (many of) the Orem City council on Tuesday (June 24), about Vivint Wireless. I also attended this public meeting.

    It was by no means a proposal as an alternative to the proposed UTOPIA/Macquarie deal. It was more like “Hey, Vivint wireless *could* come to Orem [more; apparently they have some customers in the area], and they *could* provide speeds comparable to those of current competitors (up to 50mbps), and even about the same cost as current competitors ($45-55/mo)”. Dean expected about a 20-25% take-rate for their wireless (assuming the Macquarie deal doesn’t happen).

    Some of the irony of the presentation is that Vivint Wireless would tap into the existing UTOPIA fiber to connect customers to the internet. If UTOPIA is built out completely, there’s little business incentive for Vivint wireless to do (much) business in Orem.

    Honestly it felt to me like a waste of the council’s time (there were less than 20 people in the room), and everything seemed to be “if, if, if” – nothing hard and fast. It really was a presentation about Vivint Wireless and what they can/could do. It also seemed like a political move to subtly say “I didn’t influence Lindon’s choice like it looks”…

    The most interesting thing I learned is that Lindon is built out about 90%, with a 40% take-rate. That seems to be more of a reason that Lindon voted “No” than Vivint Wireless being a viable competitor/alternative to the Macquarie deal. (Honestly I think the wireless service has a place, but it does not seem practical for ubiquitous internet access in densely populated areas; I surely will avoid wireless if possible based on my own research & reading).

    The original (UTOPIA) idea seems to have been that the interlocal agreement would facilitate everyone getting built out (eventually). Since then, a few cities have backed out having reaped enough benefit for what they deem appropriate – leaving the other cities holding the bag.

    However, as I understand it, those cities still “own” a share of the UTOPIA network, and thus they won’t go dark – but their costs to access the network may go up (and the infrastructure may not benefit their citizens as the PPP deal could).

    Those cities who vote “No” to Milestone 2 are essentially giving up their voice at the Macquarie negotiating table. It still stands to be seen how the transport fees will be split, and if individual cities use existing resources to offset the proposed utility fee.

    I hope Orem city votes to stay in for at least Milestone 2. It will answer questions and come closer to setting things in stone. Once that information is available, Orem will be better able to decide if it wants to join the 30 year commitment.

    • Rob says:

      Wireless is never going to be the answer outside of rural areas, but the average person seems to be easily swayed by these types of wireless infrastructure plans. There is only one advantage Orem will see if they decide to go with wireless. The residents will become better educated in physics and information theory after a few years of using the service. There are very real and well defined limits on bandwidth capacity, which depend heavily on the level of noise in the channel. Wireless is an extremely noisy channel even without what humans contribute to it, and it only gets more noisy as more people try to share it.

      I hope that someone who understands this is able to educate the other residents if they see serious movement in that direction.

  10. Ronald D. Hunt says:

    Vivint uses the same radio band as your kitchen microwave.

    ANY provider who tells you they can setup a quarter of the city of Orem with fixed point wireless is lying. Sprint had dedicated radio space for their broadband direct fixed point wireless and where only able to hit 1-3% of the residents in their coverage area.

    Let me say that again Sprint had dedicated radio space, as in space not also occupied by junky walmart microwaves made in china.

    The radio band Vivint plans to use to absolutely loaded with users, Microwaves, baby monitors, portable phones, bluetooth, 802.11bgn computer networks, wireless microphones, and a huge stack of legacy hardware that is poorly designed, or simply old and is very noisy on the radio band.

    2.4GHZ and 3.5GHZ have also been used for radar in the past, and as such get knocked out by HAFB every now and then when they do equipment checks(Orem is close enough to be effected by this).

    Vivint does not own any radio space of their own, they are exclusively using unlicensed bands 2.4ghz and 5.8ghz, or the semi licensed 3.5GHZ band.

    Even ignoring all of the technical problems surrounding current uses of this radio space, their are other problems with it as well, 2.4ghz/3.5ghz/5.8ghz do not penetrate walls very well, and refract off rain drops.

    And further FCC rules places limits on how high they can amplify their signal, and this limit is very low 1 watt. The 2.4ghz band also overlaps amateur radio bands meaning that when you neighbor up the street turns his 100 watt amplified satellite radio equipment on and knocks out every wireless connection for 3 blocks, you can do nothing.

    Vivint is at best leaving giant texas sized details out, and at worst outright lying.

    • Informed Party says:

      Ronald, i’m sorry to say this but you are a complete idiot and you don’t know what you are talking about.

      I assure you, Vivint doesn’t use any of the bands you mentioned. 2.4, 3.5, 5.8. I know this from first hand knowledge. They also used mostly licensed spectrum, only the last few hundred feet are unlicensed.

      Dean Lundberg was fired from Vivint, and Vivint had no influence nor do they care about Utopia / Macquarie deal. If you are going to make comments atleast make sure you have your facts straight. Not sure where you are getting your details from, but they are flat out wrong and slander. I would be careful what you say.

      • A network guy says:

        What unlicensed bands to they use for the last mile? If its still part of the link there is still chance for interference from other unlicensed devices like my home 802.11ac router running 5Ghz.

      • Ronald D. Hunt says:

        3.5GHZ is a licensed band, it is used for 802.11y and friends. You have to buy a license from the FCC to use it, and it operates under different terms from the unlicensed bands.

        That said it is a re-purposed band that was used for radar. AND, It may have more then one user, as multiple companies can license this band for use, and they are required to not interfere with each other.

        And you actually describe a worse situation, as both the last mile AND, the middle mile are provided via wireless links.

        I really hope these idiots at Vivint, are not trying to sell phone lines that use E911 on this thing. Being subject to interference, from multiple bands knocking your service due to your link just sounds like a bad idea.

        When someone can’t call 911 during their spouses heart attack, because of the poorly shielded microwave their neighbor is using to cook their breakfast burrito, I hope the ensuing law suite puts an end to such rank stupidity.

        A network guy–

        He is an very uninformed party, The major cell companies have payed billions for 5 MHz slices of spectrum, Even regional access to a licensed band will cost in the $100’s of millions(just ask sprints ex-franchises).

      • Mike says:

        There’s only a couple of bands with the range to handle even a “few hundred feet” of wireless that are unlicensed. Pretty much exclusively, those are in the 2.4 and 5.8 bands. There’s a tiny sliver around 900 Mhz, but there’s a reason cordless phones moved to 2.4 and 5.8 Ghz from 900 Mhz. plus I guarantee you nobody wants a high gain 900 Mhz antenna on their roof. 2.4 Ghz antennas are bad enough.

        So yeah, which unlicensed bands is Vivint using, exactly?

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