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.)