Wednesday night was the monthly meeting of the White City Community Council, and it looks like I'm going to have to appear to a higher body for some help. First, the rep from UTOPIA didn't show and I never got an e-mail or call to indicate such. This, however, is the minor setback. The major setback is that the future of White City's township designation might be in jeopardy based on what I heard at this meeting, so the council rightly must focus on issues other than broadband policy. I'm going to try and setup a time to present to the Salt Lake County Council to see if they'll appeal to legislators to re-write the law and allow counties to directly participate in UTOPIA.
The other option is to start a private company to bring UTOPIA to this area. I don't have the experience, time or money to do something that ambitious (but if any of you are, please let me know) so that seems like a dead end. It seems like I'm back to square one.
I got to do a follow-up presentation on the financial aspects of UTOPIA at tonight's White City Community Council meeting. This included estimated participation rates and the impact on housing values. While it's not a slam dunk, it looks like a very solid picture for meeting the debt obligations by the end of the first year.
Don't forget that the White City Community Council will be meeting tomorrow. UTOPIA is on the agenda and I will be following up with some answers concerning the cost and value of the project. I spoke with UTOPIA COO Roger Black yesterday and there may be a representative from UTOPIA on hand to help answer questions about the project. The meeting will be held at 7PM at Eastmont Middle School (at the intersection of Sego Lily and 1300 E) in room 105 on the lower level. The parking lot entrance is on Sego Lily (take the west entrance).
The day before the meeting, I got a call from the chair of the Council to offer the spot on the agenda I had been speaking. It was pretty short notice, but I was glad to have some real time to speak to them about bringing UTOPIA to the neighborhood. I quickly put together a PowerPoint presentation and drew up a map of the potential aerial run from the backbone along the UPRR to White City. It also helped that I was able to borrow a projector from work to show off my handiwork.
I was invited to pay a visit to the offices of DynamicCity last Friday to talk about what can be done to help spread UTOPIA. (For those that don't know, this is the company in charge of building the physical plant for UTOPIA.) A special thanks to Joel, Cory and Keith for taking time out of their day to talk to me.
There's some really exciting stuff on the horizon. A few years ago, the legislature passed SB66 to limit participation in UTOPIA by barring new cities from joining before July 1, 2007. Qwest was the main pusher of the bill and originally wanted to use it to kill the project. The moratorium was seen as a compromise that Qwest and UTOPIA member cities could live with. Now that it's coming up for expiration, new cities will be free to join the project.
We also spent a lot of time discussing how to bring UTOPIA to unincorporated county lands. It seems that the best solution is to create a special improvement district in conjunction with the White City Community Council. This would overcome the issues with not being a city without having to amend the law to make unincorporated areas eligible. This is going to be untested water since the law explicitly permits cities but doesn't specifically permit other entities. (By the same token, an SID is not explicitly prohibited either.) The next step is to round up some of my neighbors and start talking to Community Council members at next month's meeting to gauge the interest level.
If you live in White City and want to see UTOPIA in your area, please contact me as soon as possible. The next meeting is Wednesday June 6th at 7PM at Eastmont Middle School, 10100 S. 1300 E. Room #105 in Sandy. If a bunch of us show up in support of this project, we just might be able to get it rolling here and pave the way for other unincorporated areas to do the same.
UTOPIA will be holding an open house in Lindon to answer questions about the service that will soon be available to that city. It will be held on Dec. 5 at 6PM at the Lindon City Center, 100 N. State Rd.
(See full article.)
Tonight I attended a meeting of the Utah Technology Commission to speak on opening up UTOPIA. The presentation went well, and I think it helped bring the shortcomings of the current law into the minds of the Commission. I also walked away with more ideas on where to go next.
One of the great suggestions from Rep. Dougall, the committee chair, is to explore forming a cooperative within my township, White City, which could then contract with UTOPIA to bring the service here. One big barrier to that is being surrounded by Sandy, a city that isn't participating. This means that even if we formed a cooperative, Sandy would either need to become a UTOPIA member or give permission to run the lines through their city. It's a good idea, but my little slice of the county would have some trouble with it.
I'm also going to see about making presentations to various community councils, the county council, and even a few city councils. I've got a few contacts right now working on getting business leaders involved in voicing their concerns about the lack of UTOPIA availability as well. As we gain more voices, we'll see greater adoption and increased availability of services.
Do what you can to help out. Write your representatives in government. Talk to local business leaders. Attend hearings and meetings to voice your concerns. Enough of us together can get things changed.
I'm confirmed for a spot before the Utah Technology Commission at their meeting on November 15th at 5PM to discuss the shortcomings of the current law and discuss UTOPIA expansion. The meeting will be held in room W110. Hope to see some of you there!
It's not exactly in our neck of the woods, but worth mentioning. Santa Clara University is holding a conference on municipal broadband and is specifically inviting the underserved from Silicon Valley to help formulate public policy on broadband. This sounds like just the kind of thing we need in our neck of the woods to get UTOPIA available to the hundreds of thousands of Utahns living in areas not eligible to join.
(See press release. Warning: Unnecessary superlatives, hyperbolic statements.)