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News and comments on community broadband networks, the communities deploying them and the technologies that support them. Published by Denise Frey and Al Bonnyman.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2004


UTOPIA update

Utah's 18-city UTOPIA (Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency) FTTH (fiber to the home) initiative recently survived an Qwest-sponsored attempt in the state legislature to ban municipal broadband project in Utah. The law did pass, but does not effectively ban UTOPIA -- it just makes it a little harder to move forward. It does outlaw any more cities in Utah joining UTOPIA or building their own municipal broadband networks.

Now the 18 cities each have to individually approve financial backing for construction of their part of the network.

10 cities -- Orem, Tremonton, Brigham City, Perry, Layton, Centerville, Midvale, West Valley City, Lindon, Murray -- have voted to back the project.

One city, South Jordan, has opted out; it's already financially stretched and construction costs in its' area are estimated to be significantly higher than the average for UTOPIA cities because of lower housing density. (There's also a question as to whether South Jordan met all the necessary requirements under the new state law to participate.)

6 other cities -- Salt Lake City, Cedar City, Payson, Cedar Hills, Roy, Riverton -- have decisions pending.

Like South Jordan, Cedar City and Riverton also reportedly have higher construction costs (per potential subscriber) and lower densities and so they may also opt out. Riverton is also in a weak financial position.

Taylorsville voted 4 to 1 to proceed with UTOPIA but not to financially back the project. Cedar Hills as noted earlier today is leaning towards doing the same thing.


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