Nuvont's Not Going Anywhere

I just spoke with a rep from Nuvont who clarified what’s going on with them. The short version is that I got only half the story and Nuvont is doing just fine.

The terminal adapter surplus was from a canceled order, but it was canceled because the product had been ordered but not delivered. Both Nuvont and the supplier came to mututally-agreeable terms to cancel and refund the undelivered shipment. Apparently the supplier then selling the leftovers either didn’t get the story straight or injected some of their own conjecture into the conversation.

Nuvont also said that they have found themselves unable to offer phone service in Tremonton just yet, but they still offer phone service in other markets. The problem is with getting available numbers from Frontier Communications, the local incumbent. This is in addition to Frontier’s refusal to port numbers for existing customers.

So there you have it. Nuvont is doing just fine.

UTOPIA Trucks Spotted in Brigham City; Is Service on the Way?

Commenter Dave noted that he has recently seen UTOPIA trucks driving around in downtown Brigham City. There’s not much indication as to what they were doing, but we do know that UTOPIA installed a fair amount of fiber backbone in the city before halting construction last spring. Tremonton saw sales crews about a month after the trucks were spotted up there splicing. As the ground thaws, we may yet see fiber service deployed in the city. Keep your eyes peeled for the door-to-door sales team.

Wither Nuvont? Canceled Orders, Lost Customers Point to Trouble

Rumors are afoot that Nuvont Communications may be closing shop. My sources tell me that they recently canceled a large order of phone terminal adapters citing to the suppliers that they no longer planned to be in business. Service providers have also reported picking up Nuvont phone customers who claim they were told that Nuvont did not plan to offer phone service any longer. I’ve heard that company principals have denied the rumors, but I haven’t been able to get any specific responses to the evidence that’s popped up. It seems confusing given the press release several weeks ago reaffirming Nuvont as a provider on the network.

Any Nuvont customers have similar experiences? Any Nuvont employees want to clarify what’s going on?

UPDATE: A rep from Nuvont contacted me and set the story straight.

Revolt in Traverse Mountain? New Management May Boot Broadweave

A post at the Traverse Mountain Community Forum reveals that a recent change in mangement with Mountain Home Development Group has the Christensens out of management positions. The new management discussed issues with Broadweave at length including, in the commentor’s summary, the continued lack of video, pricing disparities, poor phone service, poor customer service, and potential contract violations. Residents in the master-planned community are obligated to pay $75/mo for phone and Internet services, but it’s unclear as to what speeds or services are being provided. Many are worried that they signed up for long-term contracts with DirecTV or Dish Network and could be obligated to pay for both services if/when Broadweave rolls out video.

The subtext seems pretty clear: the new management is pretty ticked off at Broadweave and wants them to shape up or ship out. Without the family connection protecting them from enforcing provisions of the contract, Broadweave may be on thin ice.

Rumor: Broadweave Defaulting on iProvo?

Sounds like the iProvo troubles are about to get bigger. According to a Nuvont installer who would like to remain nameless, Broadweave has defaulted and could likely be returning the network to the city in very short order. Nuvont is also trying to switch video customers from iProvo to Dish Network, presumably in preparation for serious network troubles. This could very well mean the end of both Broadweave and Mayor Billings’ political future.

Anyone else out there heard about this?

Rumor Confirmed? Subscriber Says That Broadweave Isn't Billing

One of the allegations from the Broadweave insider is that they don’t know who their customers are until they call in for support. A commenter recent confirmed this saying that they had been installed in August but have yet to receive a bill for any service and says that a neighbor is in the same boat. The question, of course, is if Broadweave can back-bill these customers successfully or not. It’s the customer’s responsibility to notify a company if they aren’t billed for services rendered, but good luck trying to keep the customers happy when you do it.

Anyone else getting service from Broadweave without being billed? Sound off in the comments.

Rumor: Mstar Moves Back to ServerPlus for Support

There’s a rumor about that Mstar has outsourced all customer support to ServerPlus. Employees in Mstar’s call center were reportedly either laid off or offered a job at ServerPlus with a big pay cut, possibly down to as little as $10 an hour. Mstar had initially used ServerPlus for fiber customer support and found it lacking, so the move back to them seems like a step backwards. I’m going to count it as another tick mark on the Mstar Death Watch.

A separate rumor says that Broadweave is in negotiations with ServerPlus for the same thing. That would be bad news for anyone currently in a customer service position with the company.

Mstar, DynamicCity Were Also Bidding for iProvo

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that city records show that Mstar and DynamicCity, the network management company for UTOPIA, also put in bids to either manage or run the city’s fiber optic network. A fourth company also reportedly made a bid, but their name is being kept secret by the city. DynamicCity President Cory Turner (who I know and who wasn’t president of DynamicCity at the time) said that the bid to operate the network was a long-shot at best. That proposal was put together by D. Keith Wilson.

Mstar’s involvement in the process, however, is rumored to be very different from how it is portrayed in this article. Word on the street is that once they caught wind of the sale and were denied based on their account being in arrears, they quickly made a deal with Broadweave to sell the customer list and have their debt forgiven. The rumor mill says that Broadweave then double-crossed Mstar when board member Fraser Bullock threatened to pull business from the law firm that employed Mstar’s principal investor and demanded payment to settle the matter.

The major dailies reportedly are all aware of these shenanigans but have gotten a lot of pressure to keep it all under wraps. I’m privvy to only the surface details of the matter, but any current or former Mstar employees who’d like to fill in the gaps is invited to call or e-mail me.

The Now-Missing Broadweave Post

Yes, it’s gone. The short version is that after feedback and some careful consideration, I determined it was boneheaded to have even posted the full letter in the first place. Instead, I’ll summarize the key allegations and rumors from the tipster who sent it to me:

  • Lax physical and logical security
  • Poor customer service
  • Preferential treatment of VIPs such as city council members
  • No accurate record of which customers to bill and multiple changes of the billing system
  • Little oversight from the corporate office
  • Sexual harassment and hostile working environment

A current Broadweave employee wrote that most of the allegations were either untrue or half-truths. Given their explosive nature, the letters themselves shouldn’t have even gone up in the first place. It was dumb on my part and I should have just summarized the key points.

The only one that I have any kind of confirmation on is the security. I’ve had at least three sources confirm that there was a significant theft of long-distance services (6-figure, one of them says). I initially thought it was just bad luck, but a lack of appropriate security would make me reconsider that. Everything else? That’s anyone’s guess.

Headend Brawl: UTOPIA and Provo at Odds on Shared Assets

As the clock ticks down on a contract between UTOPIA and Provo for a shared video headend, the fight over who owes who money is starting to heat up. I’ve had a lot of anonymous tipsters relating details and rumors over some strong disagreements regarding compensating UTOPIA for their portion of the headend, a subject that appears to be strongly muddied by unclear contracts with Broadweave.

I’m no lawyer, but from looking at the headend agreement, it appears that Provo sold UTOPIA’s interest in both the VOD and Wildvine servers to Broadweave as a part of the sale of iProvo and used UTOPIA’s unused exercise of the right of first refusal as consent to do so. If that is the case, UTOPIA would naturally like to be paid for their share of that asset; it just isn’t clear who should cut the check, City of Provo or Broadweave. Given that the total is rumored to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range, I can imagine that all parties involved are taking a strong stance on their respective positions.

The Daily Herald reported that both Kevin Garlick of Provo and Todd Marriott of UTOPIA are confident they can work something out, though I’ve heard that the problem in all of this is Broadweave CEO Steve Christensen who refuses to reach any kind of agreement. It looks like the headend agreement with Broadweave was signed in August of 2007 and I don’t think UTOPIA was involved in that discussion. This is coming back to bite Provo since they decided to make a lot of assumptions instead of talking it through with their partner.

Given the price tag and the tight financial situations with Provo, UTOPIA and Broadweave, I’m anticipating that this disagreement will get ugly if none of the sides plans to budge. Here’s to hoping they work out some kind of equitable solution instead of ended up in an “all sides lose” expensive legal action.