Tag: "UTOPIA Fiber"

Posted October 26, 2022 by Karl Bode

Lehi City, Utah has broken ground on its new citywide fiber optic broadband network. The network, which city leaders say should take somewhere around three years to complete, will be built on the back of Lehi’s Utilities Department, part of a growing trend of U.S. utilities using an historic infusion of federal funding to expand affordable broadband connectivity.

The Lehi Fiber Network will operate as an open access network, meaning that multiple ISPs will be able to utilize the city’s new infrastructure, providing a much-needed dose of broadband competition to local residents and businesses alike. 

Five ISPs have already committed to providing service over the city-owned fiber, with the first customers expected to see service sometime in early 2023. Lehi’s partner ISPs have yet to specify tier pricing, but data consistently shows that such open access competition routinely drives down costs and improves service quality in regions where it’s adopted. 

After hiring Magellan to conduct a feasibility study, the city in 2020 approved financing the network with a bond it hopes will be fully paid off by broadband subscriber revenues. In 2021, the city announced it had chosen Strata Networks — the largest independent cooperative in Utah — to build and operate the network.

“We hope you’re as impressed with us as we are with you,” Bruce Todd, CEO of Strata Networks, said at the recent groundbreaking ceremony. “We’ve been involved in the broadband Internet industry for over 20 years. Covid changed how we looked at things, it became very important to get Internet to everyone and especially school children.”

With a population of 80,000 residents, city officials told ILSR that the total cost of the network is...

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Posted May 31, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

In an announcement at the Mountain Connect conference last week in Keystone, Colorado, municipally owned open-access network operator UTOPIA Fiber announced it has completed its build in West Valley City, Utah. It marks a major milestone, both for residents in the city (who have worked for years to take back control of their information infrastructure) and for the network as a whole (finishing work on one of the original partner cities in the project itself). 

Herculean Push Since 2020

Work offically began on West Valley City in 2004, Executive Director Roger Timmerman and Deputy Director and Chief Marketing Officer Kim McKinley shared at the press event, but expansion efforts have not been steady over the last 18 years. Instead, for a myriad of reasons, progress has been made in fits and starts, with a burst in 2009 but most development happening over the last two years. Local leaders have long recognized the value in completing the build, with residents clamoring for years.

The work comes as part of a five-year accelerated broadband construction plan, though 75 percent of the progress in West Valley City, according to Timmerman and McKinley, has happened just in the last two years. This has been in part because the network has been able to leverage its excellent financial position to be the financial backstop for commercial debt without having to go to the bond market or get fiscal pledges from member cities. This has enabled UTOPIA to move more quickly.

Today, aside from a few Homeowner's Associations (HOAs) and Multi-Dwelling Units (MDUs), West Valley City has been ubiquitously connected to the open access, fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network, unlocking the potential of fast, affordable, symmetrical connections for all (see map below). 

Fierce Telecom reports Timmerman as saying that “this is a city where they did have cable and DSL options. They recognized those were insufficient for their community.” McKinley added at the event:

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Posted May 4, 2022 by Sean Gonsalves

With an unprecedented opportunity for local communities to build their own ubiquitous high-speed Internet infrastructure, a new national organization has been formed to advocate on behalf of municipal broadband initiatives and to give local governments a seat at the table as federal and state officials craft legislation and grant programs to close the digital divide.

Today, at the Broadband Communities Summit 2022 in Houston, the group’s founding members held a press conference to announce the birth of the American Association of Public Broadband (AAPB).

“We were formed by a group of municipal officials in order to advance advocacy efforts for public broadband and to make sure they have a voice in Washington and in all 50 states,” said AAPB board member Bob Knight.

Knight went on to explain that while AAPB will be advocating for municipal solutions to local connectivity challenges, “we are model agnostic, whether you want to partner with a large ISP (Internet Service Provider), build your own network, or form a public-private partnership.”

A ‘Voice in the Conversation’

Noting that AAPB will work closely with ally organizations and industry groups, AAPB was founded primarily “because municipal networks didn’t have much of a voice in the conversation around broadband funding in the American Rescue Plan Act or the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” even as there was significant lobbying efforts on behalf of the big telecom companies.

AAPB Secretary Kimberly McKinley added that lawmakers are often assailed with stories about municipal broadband failures but that it was important for lawmakers to hear the whole story.

There are a lot of cities out there who run these networks successfully. And we want to be a place where local officials can go and learn the do’s and don’ts, the missteps, and challenges. We are not advocating that you can only do muni broadband, but that there should be an option. Ultimately, it’s about giving communities the option to take local control.

AAPB raised $50,000 in funding commitments from government agencies and private donors within the first half-hour of announcing the...

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Posted April 27, 2022 by

In this episode of the Connect This! Show, co-hosts Christopher Mitchell and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) are joined by guests Kim McKinley (UTOPIA Fiber) and Peggy Schaffer (Connect Maine) to talk about the latest in state spending, and other broadband news.

Subscribe to the show using this feed on YouTube Live or here on Facebook Live, on find it on the Connect This! page.

Email us broadband@muninetworks.org with feedback and ideas for the show.

Watch here on YouTube Live, here on Facebook live, or below.

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