In a huge move, UTOPIA has just announced that national satellite provider DISH Network is now a provider on the network. Scoring an A-list provider in the telecom space is a major coup and could very well prompt other established operators to sign up as providers. Packages through DISH will include Blockbuster streaming and their own brand of TV Everywhere, Sling, that will allow you to watch programs on your smartphone or tablet.
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I had an interesting conversation recently with the director of operations at a company that is one of the big players in the telecommunications industry in Utah and this individual confirmed that they were working with UTOPIA to begin to sell their retail telecom service with a UTOPIA transport. When asked when they would start providing service, this individual noted that they wanted to first be confident that UTOPIA would be reliable. It seems that they are doing testing and there’s even some infrastructure already being put in place. This is very exciting news.
If UTOPIA proves successful, I imagine that there will be a lot of service providers that will use UTOPIA as their transport in the cities where it is available instead of Qwest’s aging copper infrastructure. Ultimately, it will put pressure on Qwest to improve their infrastructure even in non-UTOPIA cities or “risk” having UTOPIA go in there as well. As we move into the future, companies and individuals are realizing that speed matters with telecommunications. Qwest has made some commitments to improve infrastructure with fiber-to-the-node; but while that offers improved download speeds, so far there haven’t been any pushes to significantly improve upload speeds which are becoming critical. Hopefully UTOPIA’s success will change that even for the cities it doesn’t service by pushing incumbents to invest in their infrastructure.
Today’s meeting of U-CAN in Orem went really well with some good attendance. Residents are largely frustrated at the delays and lack of information as to when UTOPIA would be deployed in their area and are very interested in having the network succeed. We had one of the UTOPIA NOC employees on-hand today (he moved from the iProvo NOC) as well as a consultant who’s been working with some of the new prospective service providers and a lot of good information came forth.
- An established triple-play provider is really close to joining the network once they negotiate transport fees and they plan to market primarily to residences. This should be announced within a few weeks. Those of you looking for an Mstar alternative, look no more!
- It’s possible to order different services from different providers, but the providers don’t really know how to do it. One example of this is a subscriber who has data from XMission, voice from Nuvont and video from Mstar. If you have trouble getting the provider to offer you an unbundled service, contact your rep on the UTOPIA board to get it moving.
- UTOPIA isn’t currently equipped to handle adding new pledging cities. If you’ve been trying to get your city council on board, you need to step back and wait for a bit. Most city councils want to see how things function with the new financing and leadership before committing anyway.
- Paul Recanzone was kind enough to show us some footprint maps of where service can be found in Orem. Stick to central parts of the city to ensure that service is available and always do a check for it before moving.
- One interesting possibility was to market UTOPIA to cell phone providers to offer backhaul for their towers. The decreased transport fees make sense for Cricket, Sprint, AT&T, etc. and UTOPIA could bag a lot of revenue in the process.
- UTOPIA may look at adding wireless to the fiber backbone, either via 802.11g/n or 802.16 (WiMax). This would allow voice providers to do cellular service. In the case of WiMax, it would also allow roaming on Clearwire and allow for service outside of the Wasatch Front. That’s just in the idea stage, so don’t count on seeing anything soon.
- One meeting attendee said that he was aware of Qwest and Comcast purposefully planting moles in UTOPIA providers to try and sabotage the companies from within and that this was a primary cause of Mstar’s near-collapse. I know they’re underhanded, but I’m not sure to what extent they’d try and do something quite this dirty.