UTOPIA announces Roger Timmerman as the new executive director

utopia-logoAfter two years of searching, UTOPIA has announced that Roger Timmerman will be returning from Vivint Wireless to be the new executive director. You may recall that Roger was involved both with UTOPIA and iProvo since the early days (2004, to be exact), so he’s bringing a pretty deep understanding of both fiber and municipal networks to the table. I was sad to see Roger go (and you all know how I feel about Vivint), so I’m glad to have him back.

With UTOPIA reaching operational break even and starting to build more network in more places, now is a good time to have someone back in the captain’s chair. I hear that in addition to expansions in Midvale, West Valley City, and Layton, the city of Perry is getting a full deployment. Orem also has new councilmember (and UTOPIA supporter) Sam Lentz as their member of the UIA board, so it’s possible that there may be some movement there as well.

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BREAKING: Perry says yes to Macquarie by a unanimous vote

Perry CityIn a 4-0 vote (one council member was not present), Perry opted to move forward with Macquarie’s Milestone Two proposal for UTOPIA. This brings the final total of addresses participating to just shy of 53%. Each city who opted to get the full proposal will still need to vote to accept it once it’s completed. All UTOPIA pledging cities have had a chance to vote on the proposal before the June 27th deadline to respond.

Brigham City advances to Macquarie Milestone Two

Brigham City became the fifth UTOPIA city to move forward with the proposal from Macquarie and seek full details under Milestone Two. The council passed it on a 3-2 vote. Cities who have not yet taken a vote include Centerville, Orem, Murray, and Perry. This means that over 51.8% of homes in UTOPIA cities are now on board with getting full details of the proposal from Macquarie.

Word on the street is that Perry might actually move forward with the deal to not be left behind by their northern neighbors. Given that the city currently has no fiber, this may be the only way for it to make good on its existing bond commitments. They’ll be holding their next city council meeting on June 26th at 7PM.

Updated List of Macquarie-related Meetings

I’ve just received an updated list of what meetings and votes are currently scheduled to take place regarding Macquarie’s proposal to UTOPIA. As always, theses are subject to change and could be added to. If you hear anything, let me know and I’ll update accordingly.

Public Meetings and Town Halls:

  • June 3 @ 7:00PM, Lindon: Lindon City Center, 100 N State St, Lindon
  • June 4 @ 7:00PM, Tremonton: Bear River High, 1450 S Main St, Garland
  • June 5 @ 5:00PM, Orem: Orem Senior Friendship Center, 93 N 400 E, Orem
  • June 5 @ 6:30PM, Murray: Doty Education Center, Building 6 of the Intermountain Medical Center, 5121 S Cottonwood St, Murray
  • June 5 @ 7:30PM, Centerville: Centerville City Hall, 250 N Main St, Centerville
  • June 17 @ 7:00PM, Lindon: Lindon City Centr, 100 N State St, Lindon
  • June 17 @ 7:30PM, Centerville: Centerville City Hall, 250 N Main St, Centerville
  • June 19 @ 6:00PM, Orem: Orem Senior Friendship Center, 93 N 400 E, Orem


  • June 5 @ 7:00PM, Layton: Layton City Hall, 437 N Wasatch Dr, Layton
  • June 18 @ 6:00PM, Payton: Payson City Hall, 439 W Utah Ave, Payson
  • June 24 @ 6:30PM, Murray: Murray City Hall, 5025 S State St, Murray
  • June 24, Centerville: Centerville City Hall, 250 N Main St, Centerville
  • June 26, Orem: Orem City Hall, 56 N State St, Orem
  • June 26 @ 7:00PM, Perry: Perry City Hall, 3005 W 1200 S, Perry

Some of these are cutting it pretty close to the deadline to respond of June 27. Payson is reportedly interested in finding out more, but their years of not attending board meetings with any regularity has left a huge information and expertise vacuum within the city government. I haven’t heard anything about Perry at all. Brigham City will be voting on the proposal either on June 19 or 26 during the regularly scheduled council meeting.

Schedule of Macquarie-related meetings

macquarie_logo_2638Want to ask Macquarie some more burning questions? Interested in seeing how your city council votes? Here’s the so-far definitive list of what is happening and where. Note that any of these is subject to change and I’ll do my best to publish updates.

  • Thursday May 22: Brigham City will have an open house at the Bunderson Center, 641 E 200 N, from 6PM to 8PM. Macquarie will be there to answer one-on-one questions.
  • Tuesday May 27: Orem will have Nick Hann at the regular city council meeting to answer questions and take feedback. The council meets at 3PM in the Public Safety Training Room.
  • Tuesday May 27: Both West Valley City and Layton will be taking votes on advancing with Milestone Two during their normal city council meetings.
  • Tuesday June 3: Lindon will have a public discussion item on the city council agenda. They meet 7PM at the Lindon City Center on State St.
  • Thursday June 5: Murray will have an open house at the Doty Center inside the Intermountain Medical Center complex. It starts at 6:30PM.
  • Thursday June 5: Centerville will have an open house, education session, and public Q&A at 7:30PM. I’m assuming it’s at city hall, but the location is unclear.
  • Tuesday June 17: Centerville, Tremonton, and Lindon should all be taking votes on advancing with Milestone Two during their normal city council meetings.

Notably absent from the list are Payson and Perry, cities that seem to have adopted “bury our heads in the sand and hope for the best” as their strategy. If you live in either city, you should contact your mayor and city council to give them a nudge.

More federal dollars for UTOPIA?

I just read today that Tremonton and Perry could see upwards of $1M to fund UTOPIA expansion. It would be as part of an earmark from Sen. Orrin Hatch to expand distance learning and telemedicine programs. In such small towns, those grants would probably finish Tremonton (about 95% done) and complete a big chunk in Perry.

h/t: Nacilbupera. He/she/they may not like UTOPIA, but they deserve some credit for finding the information.

What does the broadband stimulus mean for UTOPIA?

Now that UTOPIA has $16.2M in federal funding, the question is what it’s going to do. The money itself is specifically to hook up “anchor institutions” such as schools, libraries, healthcare facilities, and government buildings. This money will be used to run fiber to over 400 buildings in Perry, Payson, Midvale, Murray, Centerville, Layton, Orem, and West Valley City. With those connections in the ground, it will be much less expensive to build out to nearby neighborhoods. That is, provided that your city joined the UIA and is willing to finance the cost of installations. A few cities are either in opposition to or on the fence about joining the UIA, so the fiber would stop at those anchor institutions. Time is limited to get them on the boat, so make sure you’re hounding them about joining.

And if you want to, go take a look at the original press release.

Utah Infrastructure Agency Moving Forward

Remember UTOPIA’s new plan to shift the cost of the network from the cities onto subscribers? It’s been moving forward in the form of the Utah Infrastructure Agency, a way for cities to bond for construction without having to put taxpayers as a whole on the hook. So far, West Valley City, Lindon, Midvale, Layton, and Orem are on board with Perry and Tremonton deciding to sit it out. Other cities are still considering signing up for it and need to hear from you.

So what exactly does this do? In short, it’s the next evolution beyond the SAA used in Brigham City. The SAA model was to  find demand, form an SAA, and then get the funds to start construction. The UIA will, instead, get the money first, find the areas of demand, and then start construction once it becomes feasible. Just like the SAA, the subscribers that get hooked up under the arrangement will be the ones footing the bill. This speeds up the process of connecting customers while still continuing to shift the burden of supporting the network away from cities and onto those who get service.

To be quite honest, I can’t see why a city wouldn’t be all over this. There’s no cost to the cities to participate and increased subscribers will only decrease or eliminate the called pledges. Given the benefits to the taxpayer, that they are taken off the hook, you’d think the Utah “Taxpayers” Association would be all for it. (Fat chance, I know.) The good news is that any city that doesn’t elect to participate now can always reconsider in the future. If your city has already declined to join (or does so in the future), you can still pester them until they reconsider.

Note: While Orem was part of the founding group of the UIA, they haven’t taken an official vote on the matter yet. There will be a public hearing on Tuesday after which the Orem City Council will decide if they will join. They chose the new bond in a 6-0 vote last time around, but the UTA is holding their rally just before the meeting to try and pack the house with opponents and scare council members into reversing course. It’s very important that UTOPIA supporters turn out in force both at the rally and the meeting to thwart these efforts. I hear there’s going to be a fun surprise for the UTA during their BBQ, so show up and be prepared for a laugh at their expense.

BREAKING: Gov. Herbert Recommends UTOPIA for Broadband Stimulus

Peter Pratt at StimulatingBroadband.com tipped me off that Gov. Herbert has made his recommendations to NTIA and that all three of UTOPIA’s proposals are on the list. This could pump over $57M into the network at a time when capital for expansion is rather difficult to come by. The money could be ready to use as early as February. While this isn’t the final word on which projects will be approved, the NTIA is very likely to go along with the recommendations from the states. The feds didn’t give independent reviewers a lot of time to screen applications before sending them to the states.

The money will be set aside for rural and underserved areas of member cities, so expect to see the money flow into Lindon, Centerville, Payson, Brigham City, Perry, and any leftover portions of Tremonton first. Residents in these cities are very likely to see a sharply reduced cost for an SAA (most likely) or the return of the free install (quite unlikely). Overall, this will mean a big expansion of UTOPIA availability which can only help the bottom line. UTOPIA’s new management will likely have a targeted build plan meant to maximize new subscribers; previously, the building had been willy-nilly.

UTOPIA isn’t the only winner in Herbert’s recommendations. UEN and the UTA picked up endorsements as did several projects from the Navajo Nation. Emery Telecom also got the nod for its three proposals to bring FTTP to its service areas in rural Utah, no doubt to unify its separate CATV and phone systems as part of the upgrade. (Seriously, guys, kudos on being one of the few rural ILECs doing something so ambitious.) There’s also an application to build a community WiFi cloud in Washington County.

All in all, it’s good news for Utah’s broadband.

UTOPIA in Perry: "Real Soon Now" Becomes July

Forum commenter ALinPerry reports receiving a notice with his utility bill that UTOPIA will be going door-to-door in Perry next month to gauge interest in getting service. If interest is high enough, UTOPIA will finish the west side of town and add new subscribers as early as July. If you’ve been waiting for UTOPIA in Perry, keeps your eyes open for their reps.