UTOPIA Fiber will soon be branching out as they continue to forge partnerships with local communities in their region. In addition to expanding their own infrastructure, the organization is working across the state line to help Idaho Falls expand a municipal network.
Funding in Place
The Utah Infrastructure Agency (UIA) recently announced that it will provide $48 million to UTOPIA Fiber to facilitate expansion of the network. UIA is a separate entity, but the two operate as an integrat; leaders from both entities credit this approach for the growth of the network since 2009. According to a November 14th press release, UIA secured the funding with Lewis Young Robertson & Burningham, Inc. (Financial Advisor), KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc. (Senior Managing Underwriter), and Gilmore & Bell (Bond and Disclosure Council).
Executive Director of UTOPIA Fiber Roger Timmerman said:
“We have the best partners in the business who have worked relentlessly over the past few months to get us to this point. The demand for municipally-owned fiber has skyrocketed and we are excited to be a leader in the industry. Over the past four years, UTOPIA Fiber has doubled the number of subscribers on its fiber network and has entered into partnerships with several additional communities.”
The newly acquired funding demonstrates a growing interest in open access fiber network infrastructure as investment. The UTOPIA Fiber network is currently an option for more than 100,000 premises, providing multiple options for households and businesses in a competitive environment. Other open access networks in locations around the U.S. are in the works, including publicly and privately owned infrastructure.
According to the press release, this is the fourth round of funding that UIA has closed on within the last year in order to meet demand and expand to additional communities.
Connecting an Expanding List of Communities
The town of Morgan City, which will be the 13th community in Utah to connect to the publicly owned open access network, recently decided to join the list of UTOPIA communities. With about 1,600 households in the town, Morgan City has been a location where large incumbent providers have chosen not to deploy high-quality Internet access networks. Mayor Ray Little from Morgan City said:
“We are thrilled to bring UTOPIA Fiber to our growing community. Our residents and businesses have been in dire need of better, faster, and more reliable options for Internet [access] and UTOPIA Fiber will be providing the best possible solution for our city.”
The decision by the city council to partner with UTOPIA Fiber was unanimous. All residents and businesses, including more than 150 home-based establishments, should be on the network by the spring of 2020. Spring 2020 is also the expected launch date in West Point, Utah, where UTOPIA Fiber is also expanding; West Point is home to approximately 10,600 people.
In Payson City and Layton, UTOPIA Fiber has decided to expedite the timeline in order to bring connectivity to residents and businesses sooner. Layton, where build out has happened faster than expected, should be completed by the end of 2019. In Payson City, the demand has been strong, so UTOPIA Fiber will dedicate more resources in order to get the community connected even faster. The network is already taking early sign-ups.
As we reported last year, UTOPIA Fiber and Idaho Falls began working together to expand use of the latter's fiber network. The collaboration has grown from pilot project to Idaho Falls city leaders' decision to bring fiber connectivity to the entire city. UTOPIA Fiber will continue to work as the operational partner to Idaho Falls Fiber.
Still on the Upswing
About a year ago, we reported about the positive happenings at UTOPIA Fiber. Even though the network operates in a state where local communities face barriers to local authority, the need for better connectivity has driven the success of the open access network. Clearly, choice of ISP and the ability to obtain fast, affordable, reliable Internet access via the publicly owned network will continue to drive the demand for UTOPIA Fiber.
Learn more about UTOPIA Fiber's transitions by listening to Christopher's interview with Kimberly McKinley, Chief Marketing Officer from UTOPIA Fiber:
Image of Payson City in the public domain.