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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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Friday, April 09, 2004


Last minute private sector offer to shoulder much of Salt Lake City's UTOPIA risk

The Deseret Morning News reports:
"Salt Lake City would shoulder a lot less financial risk but share a lot less profit under a new, 11th-hour deal to induce the city to stick with UTOPIA. Wexford Capital, LLC, a private Connecticut-based venture capital firm that already has ties to the proposed Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency, is offering to cut the city's potential initial costs for the publicly owned fiber optic network."

"While final details of Wexford's deal are still being hammered out, the company's verbal offer to cover 75 percent of the city's costs the first 10 years would come in exchange for 75 percent of the city's UTOPIA profits for 25 years. That plan would slash the city's potential costs to $7.7 million from $28.7 million in the first decade of UTOPIA's operation."

"City Council Chairwoman Jill Remington Love said Wexford's offer to take away taxpayers' risk is intriguing. 'But if there is an investor that will take away that risk, is it because (UTOPIA) is such a good deal that maybe we shouldn't pass up getting that revenue?' Still, Love concedes that even with the new deal, UTOPIA is probably dead in Salt Lake City. She said she expects when the council decides Tuesday if Salt Lake is in or out, at least three members will vote against UTOPIA."

Interestingly, the Salt Lake Tribune chose not to report on this development; the Tribune has been very opposed to UTOPIA, frequently offering other technologies as superior to fiber (DSL, cable modems, BPL, wireless).


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