$25 monthly FTTH tax proposal fades away in Utah

4 March 2016 by Steve Blum
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Roads yes, fiber no.

An everyone pays, everyone gets plan to pay for completion of the Utopia fiber to the home network in Utah appears to be dead (h/t to Fred Pilot at the EldoTelecom blog for the pointer). The financing package was proposed by an Australian company, Macquarie Capital, as a way to finish building out the network in participating Utah cities. The deal that was on the table would have every home and business pay a mandatory utility fee of $25 a month – a tax, in other words.… More

Google Fiber likes Salt Lake, Utopia not so much

26 March 2015 by Steve Blum
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No room on the Google bus.

Google Fiber’s Utah expansion appears limited to Salt Lake City and, maybe, some surrounding areas. In its announcement and press event on Wednesday, the Google team talked about “metro area—Salt Lake City”, but the emphasis was on the city proper.

There’s also no prospect, at this point, for Google to step in and rescue the Utopia municipal fiber system, as it did in Provo. Six of the eleven cities in the consortium want to move ahead with a refinancing deal proposed by Macquarie Capital, but no promises have been made yet and final decisions are still months away.… More

Google Fiber expanding into Salt Lake area

25 March 2015 by Steve Blum
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Salt Lake City will be the next stop for Google Fiber. According to a post on the Google Fiber blog yesterday…

“Now, another city in the Silicon Slopes is poised to show the world what’s possible with gigabit Internet. Today, we’re ready to bring Google Fiber to one more metro area—Salt Lake City”.

…It’s a logical expansion out of its nearby Provo base. One question to be answered: does the expansion into the metro area include the Utopia systems?… More

UTOPIA tests everyone pays, everyone gets muni broadband model

9 March 2015 by Steve Blum
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At a crossroads.

The latest report issued by Macquarie Capital as it pushes ahead with an effort to bail out the sinking multi-city UTOPIA municipal fiber-to-the-home project in Utah confronts an inevitable collision between public policy and profitability.

Good public policy requires muni FTTH service to be available to all, whether or not they want it now, or whether their neighbors want it. It’s a defining characteristic of any government-provided service. On the other hand, good business practice – indeed, the defining feature of capitalism – calls for money to be spent where the return on investment will be the highest.… More

Broadband UTOPIA starts at $23 a month for cities that remain in the game

5 March 2015 by Steve Blum
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Click for the full report.

Only six of eleven Utah cities involved in the UTOPIA fiber-to-the-home system chose to move ahead with a bail out plan proposed by Macquarie Capital, an Australian investment company. As a result, the proposed monthly tax bill (characterised as a “mandatory utility fee”) for homeowners in the reduced project area has jumped from $18 to $20 per month to the current estimate of $22.60 and a cap of $25. That’s just to pay for building out the network to every home and business in those cities.… More

Utopia moves ahead on FTTH bailout plan, but the monthly tax bill could go higher

30 June 2014 by Steve Blum
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A flat monthly fee of $18 to $20 – or, now, perhaps more – to rescue the failing Utopia municipal fiber to the home system in Utah got mixed reviews from the city councils involved, but even so the project’s board of directors voted today to move ahead with negotiating a bailout plan put forward by Australia’s Macquarie Capital Group.

The system encompasses 11 cities in the Salt Lake area (but not Provo, where Google rescued an independent muni FTTH system or Salt Lake City itself).… More

Broadband astroturf grows thicker

10 June 2014 by Steve Blum
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The astroturfing season is officially open. According to a story in Vice, big incumbent ISPs are trying to make their opposition to new FCC network neutrality rules or, worse, reclassification of broadband as a regulated, common carrier service look like it’s coming from the common people. A group calling itself Broadband for America – who could be against that? – is cranking up an artificial grassroots – astroturf – campaign against net neutrality. But the group’s leadership is not exactly made up of consumer advocates…

Last month, Broadband for America wrote a letter to the FCC bluntly demanding that the agency ‘categorically reject’ any effort toward designating broadband as a public utility.


Aussies jump in with Utopia FTTH bid

20 December 2013 by Steve Blum
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Spends just as well as a greenback.

Utopia’s saviour appears to be an Australian investment company, Macquarie Capital Group, that specialises in large public sector projects, including fiber optic networks. According to a story in the Salt Lake City Tribune, Macquarie is starting out with a feasibility study…

The goal, according to a senior Macquarie executive, would be to develop a private-public partnership with any of the UTOPIA cities that wanted to participate, with Macquarie paying to build out the municipal Internet grid and then running it under a 30-year revenue-sharing contract.


Utopia might finally be utopia, thanks to Google

15 December 2013 by Steve Blum
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Is a Google buyout the exit strategy?

One way or the other, it looks like Google is behind an impending bailout of Utopia, Utah’s multi-city muni fiber-to-the-home system. According to a story in the Ogden Standard-Examiner (and with a h/t to the Baller Herbst List)…

…officials gave only generic detail on what’s coming as a huge opportunity involving a major company mirroring Google’s involvement with Utah County.

They’re referring to Google’s take over of the municipal FTTH system in Provo, earlier this year.… More

Sunk costs support sinking gigabit prices

6 October 2013 by Steve Blum
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Nowhere to go but up.

Fiber-to-the-home system operators are falling in behind Google’s idea that market share counts more than marginal revenue gains (or cost controls). Both Chattanooga’s municipal FTTH network and the Utopia system serving several Utah communities are following Google’s lead in Kansas City and Provo, and offering residential gigabit service for monthly fees in the $65 to $70 range.

At $350 per month, Chattanooga was attracting only a few dozen gigabit-level subscribers. At $70 per month, it should shortly have tens of thousands.… More