Monday, November 19, 2012

UTOPIA Completes Network in First City

UTOPIA, the fiber-optic broadband service built by 11 Utah cities, announced Friday it has completed the network in its first city. Trunk lines, which are the network’s backbone, have been built out in 100 percent of Centerville.

That means all of Centerville’s residents and businesses can subscribe to the high-speed Internet service, save for areas that need approval from home owners associations or private-property owners with multiple-dwelling units.

"Twenty-two percent of our single-family homes take advantage of UTOPIA’s lightning-fast speeds and significant savings, and we expect that number to increase to more than 40 percent," Centerville Mayor Ron Russell said in a statement.

UTOPIA (the Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency) is a consortium of 11 municipalities, from Tremonton to Payson, that have joined to build the taxpayer-funded fiber-optic network. Customers connected to it can experience download and upload speeds up to 100 times faster than other Internet connections through providers such as Comcast or CenturyLink.

Nine percent of Centerville businesses subscribe to UTOPIA, according to the company.

The build out of Centerville was completed in part with federal stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In all, $16 million from the federal government, along with $8 million in local bond proceeds, was used to help build the network in Centerville, Layton, Midvale, Murray, Orem and West Valley City.

As a result, those six cities will have 250 miles of new fiber lines connecting about 400 community sites, which include 161 public safety buildings, 39 schools, one library, 55 health-care facilities and 104 government buildings.

Although UTOPIA is making strides to add to its network, the consortium has been deep in financial problems since work began in 2002. The network has a negative net worth of $120 million and has had nine consecutive years of operating losses. Its member cities are obligated to use sales tax revenue to pay for 30-year bonds issued for the network. Salt Lake Tribune