Palo Alto Rolling Out Fiber

After years of delays, Palo Alto's city council voted 5-1 in favor of building an FTTH system in their city. This has been in the works since 1999 and even had a small test system with a limited number of participants at one point. Dynamic City, the consulting company that build UTOPIA, made an offer to the city if they would foot the costs, but the city opted instead to go with 180 Connect who will bear the financial risks.

(See full article.)

SB209 is Dead… For Now

In the final hours of the legislative session last night, the House chose to take no action on SB209 leading to its defeat and the prevention of statewide franchise agreements. You can bet, though, that this bill will probably be proposed again, potentially in a special session to be call later this year. Keep your eyes and ears open so that we don't let this one happen again.

MSTAR Ranked Better than Qwest

A poll by Utah Valley Magazine is in, and MSTAR, one of the providers on both UTOPIA and iProvo, beat our Qwest for second-best Internet provider in Utah County. They also came very close to edging out Comcast for first place. This is significant since MSTAR only has service in 7% of surveyed households compared to virtually all households in the cases of both Comcast and Qwest. Could this be a big reason why these two are running scared over municipal fiber projects?

(See press release.)

Study Shows Benefits of Public Owning Infrastructure

A study by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance argues that public ownership of telecommunications infrastructure is a major boon to taxpayers and municipalities. Among the benefits are increased competition, improved local revenues, lower end-user prices, true Net Neutrality, universal access, and economic development. It seems the only losers are the incumbents who've been used to gouging us while shutting out competition. No tears shed there.

(See full article.)

iProvo Fires Back

Provo took the Reason Foundation to task on its assertion that iProvo is a financial sinkhole, showing that their report was ill-founded and premature. Not only does the city defend loans from the electric fund to make bond payments, but it also shows that the demand for the kind of service that iProvo provides is robust, scoring an average of 60 new subscribers every week with a market penetration of 25% of the available customers.

(See full articles here, here, and here.)

UTOPIA Enters Phase 2

UTOPIA is now starting construction on Phase 2 of the project while putting the finishing touches on the Phase 1 construction. Phase 2 will be utilizing federal grants for rural broadband, so folks in Brigham City and Tremonton can look forward to the high-speed service Real Soon Now(TM). Once construction is complete in the 11 pledging cities, the remaining three member cities, who have yet to pledge funds for the project, may get the network built from revenues in the other towns.

(See full article.)

Provo Mayor Rebuts Report

Provo Mayor Lewis Billings wrote an op-ed in the Provo Daily Herald rebutting the Reason Foundation's report slamming iProvo. His conclusion? They're gaming a project in its infancy, calling it a failure before it has even really gotten off of the ground. He points out that construction only recently finished and that the degree of success it's had in just three years in enviable. Mayor Billings also points out that there are still areas of Provo not served by DSL or cable and that prices on both of those services have dropped significantly throughout the city.

It's very curious how the Reason Foundation could slam the project when it's in its early phases while not seeking any input from city officials. Good job, Mayor, for standing up for your city and exposing how sloppy this paper is.

(See full op-ed.) 

FTTH Council Supports Louisiana Municipal Fiber Effort in Court

The FTTH Council has filed a brief in favor of the Lafayette Utility Systems' efforts to deploy a municipal fiber network. The lawsuit was brought by a resident who claimed unfair government competition and has now been escalated to the state's Supreme Court. The lawsuit is built around a 2004 state law supposedly intended to strike a balance between the needs for municipal networks and level competition. I would be surprised to find Bellsouth smack-dab in the middle of that one.

(See press release.)