UTOPIA on the Way to Centerville

Yeah, I know, you’ve heard it before. This time, though, UTOPIA has a sack full of federal dollars to financing building out the middle-mile infrastructure in Centerville. Does this mean service in your neighborhood? Not entirely. The construction will get as far as the substations in the city, but getting it into your house means getting enough of your interested neighbors to sign up for service via the new UIA plan. ┬áJog on over to UTOPIA’s interest form and get your name on the list to be notified if/when they’re ready to build out your neighborhood.

Read more from the Clipper.

iProvo, the Media, and Fake News

Both the Salt Lake Tribune and Daily Herald have run articles about closed-door meetings between Provo Mayor John Curtis and members of the municipal council. These meetings included only a few council members at a time so as to avoid the requirement to hold open meetings. An e-mail from the mayor indicated that these meetings were to discuss a “plan B” for iProvo. There’s just one small problem: Veracity (or at least the C-level executive there I talked to) apparently had no idea the meetings had taken place until I called to find out what’s up.

I have a number of problems with this, not the least of which is the environment of fear, uncertainty, and doubt that this creates. You may recall that Provo had to have a number of meetings in the midst of Broadweave’s impending default to figure out what to do prior to the network being handed back to the city in worse shape than when it left. You may also recall that I had copious amounts of sharp criticism for Broadweave, all of which was based on the company history (or, more ┬áprecisely, the lack thereof), hearsay about the internal disfunction at the company, and confirmations that they had to continue to use a line of credit to continue making bond payments. In this case, Veracity is a company with a solid reputation, no reportable internal strife, and a healthy cash flow from other operations. In short, there is little evidence from that side that any kind of network trouble is in the works at all.

Unfortunately, the refusal to discuss the “plan” B and how likely or, in my belief, unlikely it may be in a public venue combined with a media tendency to puff up bad news (love you guys, but you do it way too much) has combined to create nothing more than a cloud of unfounded speculation and innuendo. While Broadweave was always tight-lipped about operations, Veracity has been very open with me and has pretty bluntly stated what they’re doing with the network: cross-subsidizing it while pursuing the only customers really left, the single-family homes. Given their strong presence in other markets, I don’t doubt their capability to do so. Selling millions of minutes of voice a month is much more stable than a thousand double-play customers in an insulated (and competition-free) housing development.

This kind of pessimistic journalism, while no doubt backed up by experience, is not new. UTOPIA regularly faces one-sided stories and unrebutted opinion pieces in all of the major dailies. The only paper that consistently seems to take their job of presenting all facts seriously has been The Davis County Clipper. This is simply unacceptable. There are a lot of people depending on the newspapers to get the story straight the first time, even if it means pushing back the deadlines so you can track down and talk to other sources.

(For the record, I actually agree with Royce Van Tassell on something: more open meetings are a Good Thing. I’ve been hounding UTOPIA for the better part of two years to toss more data out in the public. Provo shouldn’t resort to so much secrecy.)

Letter to the Editor: Utah Taypayers Association Lacks Credibility on UTOPIA

The following letter to the editor was submitted to the Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News, Daily Herald, Ogden Standard-Examiner, and Davis County Clipper. It was published in the Clipper and an abbreviated version is currently slated to appear in the Tribune.

UPDATE: Here’s the letter published in the Tribune.

Whenever there is criticism leveled towards UTOPIA, you will usually find the Utah Taxpayers Association screaming the loudest. The irony is that they are one of the least-qualified to criticize UTOPIA or make any commentary on telecommunications policy.

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