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.

Utah Fiber Networks, Watch Your Back

It looks like there’s a new sherriff in town: UTOPIA Watchdog and Broadweave Watchdog. The sites are registered anonymously, but the information posted leads me to believe that the person(s) operating them has been following both systems very closely and plans to not hold back at all. For instance, the websites allege that Provo intentionally over-valued the video headend in an effort to prevent UTOPIA from exercising the right of first refusal. (That would go a long way towards explaining the acrimony between the two over this shared asset.) I’m sure that as time goes by, we’ll see some interesting developments popping up on these two sites.