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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UTOPIA has added a new residential provider to the network via existing commercial provider 1Wire. SumoFiber will be offering 50M/50M, 100M/100M, and 1G/1G Internet and unlimited phone. Given the prices, I assume they are before the UIA costs are added in, but it’s still pretty competitive.
The good news about this addition is that it’s coming from a company with a performance record. UTOPIA has increased standards significantly for new and existing providers to try and prevent the kinds of problems we saw with Mstar and their resulting trail of wreckage. If anyone signs up for service, let us know how they do.
(Thanks to reader David for pointing out the addition.)
For several years now, service providers have been terrified of the so-called “dumb pipe” and its potential to remove them as the gatekeepers to various services. Many of them use protectionism as a way to lock customers in. CenturyLink denies CLECs access to any node upgraded to FTTN, Comcast requires bundling to get their fastest service, and Verizon even goes so far as to snip out the old copper lines when you jump to FIOS. The reality, though, is that the dumb pipe is already here and they are ill-prepared for it.
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I’ve had it confirmed that Infowest, currently a commercial provider, will be participating on UTOPIA as a residential provider as part of the new UIA expansion push. Given that Prime Time, Connected Lyfe, and Fuzecore have all had to bow out for one reason or another, it’s good to know that there will be more options for residential customers who join the network in the future. I’m pretty sure they’ll offer voice and data, but no word on video options.
If you have any experience with Infowest, leave it in the comments.
Word on the street is that the plug is being pulled on Connected Lyfe (or Lyfe Communications, or whatever company name they go by now). Several sources have confirmed that the video head end they purchased from UTOPIA has been returned as they are no longer able to make the payments. I’ve also heard that, unsurprisingly, most of their difficultly came from an inability to negotiate needed video licenses from programmers to roll out their ambitious video product.
I can’t say I’m too surprised. Technologically speaking, they had all the right ingredients. Most of the guys who founded Connected Lyfe had been working for Move Networks, a company that made some impressive video streaming products that could dynamically adjust the video bitrate depending on current bandwidth conditions without a bunch of annoying buffering. Where they went wrong, however, was thinking that programmers would line up to stream their shows to any and all screens they could support. I mean, the networks literally own Hulu and even they can’t get too disruptive. Combined with the rapid burn of investor cash, I couldn’t see this one going much of anywhere.
I hear, though, that UTOPIA is working on some stringent new requirements for new providers so that these kinds of things start happening. I understand they’ve been in the works for a few months and still aren’t finalized, but hopefully we’ve seen an end of shining star new providers that flame out.
I’ve received final word that Fuzecore has decided to leave UTOPIA and has sent its customers over to Xmission. Part of the problem for the Idaho-based provider is that there just weren’t enough customers available on the network to make things work, the same problem Prime Time Communications found itself in. Xmission has graciously provided those customers with a month of free service during the transition and will honor all existing pricing arrangements, though in some cases customers have been bumped up to a higher speed at no extra charge. I applaud Fuzecore for making sure its customers are well-served on the way out the door and leaving with class. Tim McClanahan has always been open with me about what they’re up to and how they’re doing and I’m sure he’ll continue to do well back in Idaho.
Personally, I don’t think the network can sustain a large selection of providers in its current state. The slices of pie get just a bit too thin to make things work, especially with such a large service area to cover. I’m expecting the provider market to pare down to Xmission, Veracity, Brigham.net (though in a limited footprint in Brigham City) and a handful of commercial-only providers. Nuvont has been slowly dying for some time now and is rumored to be down to a scant two employees running the company. I’ve been watching ConnectedLyfe’s filings with the SEC and they continue to bleed cash on an ambitious plan to stream video that I honestly don’t think content companies are ready to embrace. Their last SEC filing in November shows $84K in revenues with $1.2M in losses. Unless there’s an investor with deep pockets or some major breakthrough with a major content company, they are not long for this world.
Honestly, I don’t think all of this is necessarily a bad thing. I’d rather have a handful of excellent and profitable providers than dozens of them waiting to see who dies first. If UTOPIA can get the network construction rolling again (seriously, guys, this is taking forever), maybe some of them will come back and give it another go. For right now, this is probably what’s best for all involved.
I popped on over to the UTOPIA website today and found that they’ve added two new service providers: 1Wire Communications and InfoWest. I don’t know a lot about 1Wire, but I do know that InfoWest is a well-regarded CLEC in the St. George area. Both companies will be providing voice and data services to business customers. 1Wire also offers a hosted PBX service similar to Telesphere. It would be nice, though, if more of these companies would open up to residential customers. It seems like it’s been a while since a new residential provider busted onto the scene.
That may change, however. I heard a rumor that Beehive Telephone, a rural ILEC in Utah and eastern Nevada, is considering joining UTOPIA to extend their reach. I remember that they’ve previously had some harsh words for UTOPIA, so this would be a major turnaround for them. Personally, I think it’s a smart move for any ILEC, rural or not, to use UTOPIA to extend their reach without having to invest in more network. You may remember that Emery Telecom was considering joining iProvo many moons ago but later backed out.
Last month, I reported that ConnectedLyfe would be a new service provider on UTOPIA. Today, the press release is out to make that launch official. ConnectedLyfe has also updated their website with some details as to what they will be offering. It looks pretty run-of-the-mill as far as services and pricing, but this little tidbit stood out.
Now you’ll be able to access your TV from any device inside your home, or on the go through your PDA or iPhone.
So, if I’m reading this correctly, it sounds like ConnectedLyfe is bringing their own version of TV Everywhere to the game a la Comcast. Given that the channel line-up appears to be a little different from the white-boxed UTOPIA offerings, I’m also going to guess that they’re using their own video headend, especially since they seem to be pushing VOD as a key part of their package. It should be interesting to see if this start-up can throw down both with incumbents and the existing providers on the network.
You heard it here first: UTOPIA has signed a deal with Telesphere to offer business voice and data services. Telesphere specializes in hosted PBX solutions, a nice differentiation between traditional SIP trunks or ATAs sold by most other providers, and has additional presence in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Denver. These kinds of managed services are a great match for UTOPIA’s network and help to go beyond the standard triple-play.
I’ve also heard that over the coming months, UTOPIA will be announcing a number of other new providers and large partnerships, some of which will result in substantive revenue gains and extension of the reach of the network. When something happens, you’ll probably read it here first.
Local ISP and co-location company Fibernet has been added a new provider on UTOPIA. It appears that they will be providing Internet-only services and plan to serve both homes and businesses. The official press release is light on details and Fibernet doesn’t currently have UTOPIA pricing on their website.
As an aside, this popped up in Google Alerts and I didn’t end up getting a copy of the press release directly despite a promise that I would be on that list. Hey UTOPIA guys? On the ball with the information distrubution por favor?