Layton Mayor Curtis Takes Aim at the UTA

Apparently I’m not the only one sick of the Utah “Taxpayers” Association and their constant vuvuzela-like drone. Layton Mayor Steve Curtis is getting sick of their spiel too.

Mayor Steve Curtis said UTOPIA, and the cities involved in it, have been transparent. “There isn’t anything we are doing behind closed doors,” he said.

The association has been opposed to UTOPIA from the beginning, Curtis said. “And if there is a way and means to stir the public, they go about it,” he said.

Curtis said he also disagrees with the association’s assumption that the public pledges being made available to the project are on the rise.

This is the kind of elected official needed in UTOPIA cities, just like Mayor Winder of West Valley City. It’s about time that the cities started sticking up for themselves and their decisions against the telecom guns-for-hire representing themselves as some kind of public advocate. You’re on notice, UTA: we’re all pretty sick of your lies.

Special Note: The UTA is still a bunch of cowards. They never responded to my challenge to a debate and refuse to respond on their Twitter account. Royce Van Tassell will also abandon any discussion thread on FaceBook about UTOPIA once I jump on. What a bunch of wusses.

Isom Eliminated at Convention

I’ve received word that Eric Isom, Qwest’s top lobbyist, has been eliminated at the Davis County Republican Convention and will not be on the ballot in this year’s election. This is good news as he would no doubt use the seat to push for anti-UTOPIA legislation. Still, always keep your eyes open for his continued lobbying efforts.

What exactly does UTOPIA's press release mean?

After the first read-through of UTOPIA’s press release, I wasn’t entirely sure what they were trying to say. In fact, most of the press release seems to allude to some sort of ethereal plan to bring the network out to 20,000 more subscribers as quickly as possible. Given the financial situation that UTOPIA is currently in, I was left scratching my head. That is, until I read the last paragraph of the press release.

As we all know, UTOPIA doesn’t have any capital to use for expansion. Barring repayment from RUS or getting awarded stimulus money, I doubt there will be spare change rattling around for several years. All of the eggs are currently in the SAA basket since it’s the only way to finance building things out. Part of the problem with the SAA is the execution time required. You have to pick a specific area to be a part of the SAA. If it’s too small, it won’t be financially self-sustaining or require an unreasonably high participation rate. If it’s too large, you could easily spend a couple of years canvassing to find enough participants. Then, after months of finding the people who want service, you have to spend a few more months getting the city council to approve the bond for the SAA, then wait for the money to come in, then, after many moons, finally start digging trenches and laying fiber. It’s a time-consuming process that could be derailed at any time by the saber-rattling of the Utah Taxpayers Association, Qwest, or any number of anti-UTOPIA factions.

Now this is the statement that sticks out:

Under this next phase of growth, the eleven pledging cities would create a new bond and release funds incrementally as demand is demonstrated.

In other words, UTOPIA cities will go ahead and approve the bonds now to get the financial side rolling, then go find and form the SAAs. This not only accelerates the deployment schedule by months, it also allows for much smaller participant areas, maybe even as few as several dozen. That’s great news for residents of member cities who want service but can’t get a couple hundred neighbors to sign up as well. Once you have enough people to jump in, construction could start the next week. It’s the SAA improved and evolved.

If you live in a pledging city, now is the time to go to UTOPIA’s website to register your interest for service. Get your neighbors to do it. And your friends, family, and even that guy down the road with the busted washing machine on his porch. (You never know; he might tune into the DIY Network and get inspired to do something about it.)

Press Release: UTOPIA cities gearing up for growth

WEST VALLEY CITY— The eleven pledging cities of the Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA; are currently discussing options for the next stage of the network’s growth. After a string of successes since June of 2008, the open-access, fiber-to-the-premise network is strategizing on how to reach more homes and businesses sooner.

“In less than two years – since we retained the new management team – the network has added about 50% as many new subscribers as the network had gained since 2002, grown from three service providers to 12, and we’ve deployed fiber throughout Tremonton and Brigham City, and in portions of Layton and West Valley City,” says the UTOPIA board chair, Kane Loader of Midvale City. “The UTOPIA model is working, but we need to maintain this growth in customers.”

The new plan anticipates adding about 20,000 more customers over the next several years. “We’ve known for a long time that UTOPIA needs a much larger customer base, and a good mix of business and residential customers, to make the books balance,” says Murray Mayor Dan Snarr. “Our cities are already obligated to the network for years to come, so we need to grow to critical mass rapidly, based on a plan to ensure long-term financial health.”

“YouTube alone uses as much bandwidth as the entire World Wide Web did in 2000,” points out Layton Mayor Steve Curtis. “Bandwidth needs in the near future will be enormous, as Google recently acknowledged. We want to make sure our residents and businesses are thriving, and in a world with an increasingly digital economy, a clear factor will be access to the near-unlimited bandwidth of fiber to the premise. UTOPIA is needed by our communities more than ever.”

“A recent New York Times article stated that, without a commitment to open access, affordability for higher bandwidth is only going to get worse. We need to keep growing this fiber network to support local businesses and the private sector,” insists Orem Mayor Jerry Washburn. “Governments build roads, and allow FedEx and UPS to compete on them. Governments build airports, and allow Delta and Southwest to compete at them. It makes sense for us to build a fiber network, and allow any interested service provider to compete on it, which currently includes XMission, Telesphere, Voonami, Connected Lyfe,, and more.”

Under this next phase of growth, the eleven pledging cities would create a new bond and release funds incrementally as demand is demonstrated. Officials from Brigham City, Centerville, Layton, Lindon, Midvale, Murray, Orem, Perry, Payson, Tremonton and West Valley are working together with UTOPIA staff to finalize the funding plan.



UTOPIA – Elizabeth Vincent, 801.613.3837,

    • Kane Loader, UTOPIA Board Chair, 801.567.7206

BREAKING: Gov. Herbert Supports a Google Partnership with UTOPIA

In what is another positive piece of news for UTOPIA, Utah Governor Gary Herbert issued a letter today urging Google to partner with UTOPIA. In his remarks, he referred to UTOPIA as “a good candidate to partner with Google” and praised both “successfully pursued models of deployment” and their “sustainable and reliable model” which has made Utah “well-prepped ground”. This kind of unabashed support and endorsement will carry weight in state political circles and hopefully give Utah another point in the plus column as Google evaluates applications.

Haven’t given Google your pitch yet? Go do it now before the March 26 deadline.

UTOPIA Signs Telesphere as a New Service Provider

You heard it here first: UTOPIA has signed a deal with Telesphere to offer business voice and data services. Telesphere specializes in hosted PBX solutions, a nice differentiation between traditional SIP trunks or ATAs sold by most other providers, and has additional presence in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Denver. These kinds of managed services are a great match for UTOPIA’s network and help to go beyond the standard triple-play.

I’ve also heard that over the coming months, UTOPIA will be announcing a number of other new providers and large partnerships, some of which will result in substantive revenue gains and extension of the reach of the network. When something happens, you’ll probably read it here first.

Spanish Fork Voice Pricing Available

Spanish Fork has let a few more details out about their new voice product in a recent article in the Deseret News. The service will be $14.95/mo and long distance will be billed at $0.04/min. Triple play bundles will run around $84/mo, better than most introductory offers from competitors. The city has contracted with Veracity to provide the service and plans to test with about 50 customers over the next month before a general rollout.

With all of the battering that municipal networks take in the media, it’s good to see some bright spots here and there.

UTOPIA Announces That They Will Pursue Google Fiber RFI

Today on the steps of city hall in West Valley City, UTOPIA announced their intention to pursue an RFI with Google on their ambitious fiber-to-the-home project. Mayors of several of the cities spoke strongly in favor of the idea and provided examples of how UTOPIA fiber is already enriching their cities. Several also pointed out that Google plans to use a model almost exactly like UTOPIA which validates their plan.

Several private companies, including Thomas Arts, spoke strongly in favor of UTOPIA and the value it provided for their growing businesses. It was also announced that Connected Lyfe has joined the network as a new service provider, though it’s not entirely clear as to what services they plan to offer.

Google Wants to Build Muni Fiber; Tell Them to Build it Here

Google pretty much send the entire telecom world spinning by announcing today that it would like to build a 1Gbps fiber network to cover a footprint of between 50,000 and 500,000. More significantly, Google is requiring that the project be an open wholesale network with heavy municipal involvement. In fact, the Mountain View company has validated municipal open wholesale fiber optic networks as the preferred network of choice in the 21st Century, a fact I’m sure will not be lost on critics of such projects. (Yes, UTA, I’m telling you to grab a big, hot slice of humble pie and chow down.) Through March 26, Google will be accepting proposals and nominations from municipalities and interested residents for where they should build this network. This is your chance to get fiber in Utah for absolutely nothing courtesy of one of the largest tech companies in the world.

And really, we’re a perfect fit. Or, more precisely, UTOPIA is a perfect fit. It’s a municipal fiber project. It’s an open network. There’s already nine providers offering services right now. The backbone and NOC are done. The city has pole attachment rights and franchise agreements already in place. There’s middle-mile fiber all over the place. And, should the footprint be completed, it’s well within the size requirement that Google is looking for. UTOPIA is a shovel-ready project that could complete the build of the network within a year of Google getting involved while providing a significantly lower cost per home than many other communities. That’s a lot of bang for your buck.

Now this is the part where you come in. Google wants you, each of you, to nominate your community for this project. This is one of those cases where the prize is so great that nobody (and I mean nobody) who wants 1Gbps Internet access in their home can afford to not at least fire off a quick submission. Every one of you needs to do it. Your city needs to do it. Every one of your friends needs to do it, their friends need to do it, your family, your ward/congregation members, your neighbors, even that guy down the street that you don’t like because he doesn’t mow his lawn as often as he should. Google needs to hear from thousands of Utahns that this is still the place.

I’m asking each of you reading to right now make a personal commitment to tell at least 10 people you know to submit a nomination via Google’s fiber website and follow-up to make sure it gets done. Get each of them to commit to asking 10 more people to do the same. If all 175 FeedBurner subscribers do this, Google will have over 17,000 nominations from Utahns via this website alone. If all 1,000 unique visitors to this site do it between now and the deadline of March 26, they will have over 100,000 comments. Do you see the power of the snowball effect here?

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said during his visit to the Utah Technology Council last October that we don’t retain technology companies we start because we lack high-speed broadband. Let’s take him and his company up on their generous offer to show them what we’re made of. Get it done and get it done right now.

BREAKING: Brigham City Approves UTOPIA SAA

Despite some recent controversy created by the UTA and saber-rattling by Qwest’s legal team, Brigham City has signed off on the UTOPIA SAA and cleared the way to start construction immediately. This will add 1,604 customers to the network and opens the way for additional customers to join the network at a later time. The network will cover the entire city and be available to every residence and business. No word yet on when the construction will be complete, but there is a rush to get it done before the ground freezes.