utah

Content tagged with "utah"

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Documentary: The Municipal Broadband Wave and Monopoly Response

In January, we released our new census of municipal networks in the United States for 2024, and the significant growth that we've seen over the last two years as more and more cities commit to building Internet infrastructure to add new tools for their local government, incentivize new economic development, and improve connectivity for households. 

The trend has not gone unnoticed by the monopoly players and their allies; we've seen new dark-money campaigns on both the East Coast and in the west, as astroturf campaigns and misinformation efforts have increased. 

A new short documentary by Light Reading does a great job of outlining the stakes for local governments, residents stuck on poor connections, and the incumbents as the wave of municipal networks grows. Featuring the network in Loveland, Colorado and context by advocates like the American Association for Public Broadband (AAPB) Executive Director Gigi Sohn and Washington State Representative Drew Hansen, it's well worth watching.

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UTOPIA Fiber Completes $23.5 Million Network Build in Syracuse, Utah

UTOPIA Fiber has completed its fourth major broadband deployment of 2023, with the finished construction of a $23.5 million citywide fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) build in Syracuse, Utah (est. pop. 33,000).

Network construction began November 30, 2021, and its first customer was connected on September 12, 2023. UTOPIA officials say the new Syracuse network passes 12,324 residential addresses, and has already reached a nearly 16% subscriber take rate in the city.

UTOPIA, shorthand for Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency, is a collaboration between 11 Utah cities that joined together in 2004 to build, deploy and operate a fiber network that reaches every last home and business in its territory. Since 2009, UTOPIA’s expansion has been funded entirely by subscriber revenues.

Despite some early lawsuits by regional monopolies like Qwest (now Centurylink/Lumen) designed to kill the project before it could get a foothold, UTOPIA has not only survived but thrived, and its success has been transformative for large swaths of the Beehive State.

Syracuse – like many U.S. communities – had been consistently underserved by a duopoly of Comcast and Centurylink (Lumen). That lack of competition consistently results in sluggish, expensive, spotty broadband service, and substandard customer service. Now, locals have access to a variety of far more affordable options thanks to a menu of UTOPIA partner ISPs.

Reflecting on 2023, Unused Capacity in Government-Only Fiber Networks, and the Return of Dark Money with Gigi Sohn | Episode 86 of the Connect This! Show

Connect This

Join us Wednesday, December 13th at 2pm ET for the latest episode of the Connect This! Show. Co-hosts Christopher Mitchell (ILSR) and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) will be joined by regular guests Doug Dawson (CCG Consulting) and Kim McKinley (UTOPIA Fiber). They'll talk about what we saw in 2023, whether there's hope for an ACP renewal (it doesn't look good), why there's so much unused capacity in government-built fiber networks today, and special guest Gigi Sohn (American Association for Public Broadband) joins to talk some more about the recent anti-municipal network dark money campaign that has inexplicably come out of the woodwork.

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

Subscribe to the show using this feed or find it on the Connect This! page, and watch on LinkedIn, on YouTube Live, on Facebook live, or below.

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The Future of LTE Networks | Episode 85 of the Connect This! Show

Connect This

Join us Friday, December 1st at 2pm ET for the latest episode of the Connect This! Show. Co-hosts Christopher Mitchell (ILSR) and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) will be joined by regular guests Doug Dawson (CCG Consulting) and Kim McKinley (UTOPIA Fiber) and special guest Mike Dano (Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading) to tackle the future of LTE networks - how did we get here, and where are we going? They'll talk about what happened to the 5G hype train, rural mobile wireless, market dynamics, and more. Go back and watch The Only History of LTE You'll Ever Need to catch up on part one of the discussion.

First, the crew tackles the FCC's digital discrimination proceeding in the context of ILSR Researcher Emma Gautier's recent piece on the subject. Then, they pause for a brief moment on what looks like a new dark money, anti-municipal broadband campaign aimed at UTOPIA Fiber in Utah. Finally, Christopher, Kim, Doug, and Travis are joined by Mike Dano to jump into the main subject of today's show: where we're at now, and where we expect to go, with mobile wireless networks.

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

Subscribe to the show using this feed or find it on the Connect This! page, and watch on LinkedIn, on YouTube Live, on Facebook live, or below.

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Municipal Broadband Opposition Campaign in Bountiful, Utah Fails

Bountiful, Utah officials and community broadband advocates are breathing a sigh of relief as the Utah Taxpayers Association’s “Gather Utah” petition to stop the city from building an open-access network in partnership with UTOPIA Fiber fell short.

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Bountiful city seal

This past Friday was the deadline for “Gather Utah” to collect enough signatures for a petition that would have forced a citywide vote on the $48 million in revenue bonds authorized in May by city councilors to fund network construction.

In a press statement, City Manager Gary Hill said: “hired signature gatherers ultimately failed to collect enough signatures from registered voters to advance the opposition campaign.”

Bountiful Mayor Kendalyn Harris added:

“Bountiful is a unique city. Our residents started this process. They organized a ‘Fiber for Bountiful’ campaign that led to a thorough consideration of many options. We now look forward to offering a vital service to residents and businesses in an increasingly digital world.”

Now, after three years of study and more than two dozen public meetings, Bountiful Fiber will begin construction next month. As we previously reported, the city-owned fiber optic network will provide gigabit speeds to residents and businesses who subscribe for service.

Earlier this month American Association for Public Broadband (AAPB) President Gigi Sohn wrote an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune about how the “Gather Utah” campaign (backed by the cable industry) tried to derail the city’s project. After news of the petition failure, Sohn said:

Wolves in Sheep's Clothing, Trojan Horse Networks, and Flowering BUDs - Episode 561 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Associate Director for Communications Sean Gonsalves to check in on the move towards a citywide open access fiber-to-the-home (ftth) network in Bountiful, Utah, an expanding institutional network in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and widespread support among small Maine towns that public dollars should go to publicly owned networks.

Along the way, they chat about the astroturf misinformation campaign being run by the Utah Taxpayer's Association, how a city negotiated a capital fee it's using to build its own network and get out from under Comcast's thumb, and the growing momentum behind Maine's Broadband Utility Districts (BUD) and their quest to improve competition and Internet access for residents.

This show is 38 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed

Transcript below.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index. See other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance here.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

 

Garden Spot of Utah Moves to Build Bountiful Fiber Network in Face of Dark Money Campaign

In the Salt Lake City suburb some call “the garden spot of Utah,” Bountiful, Utah officials have settled on a plan to bring Bountiful Fiber and affordable connectivity to its residents and businesses.

By unanimous vote of the city council, the issuance of $48 million in bonds was authorized on May 26 to fund construction of what will be a city-owned open access fiber network.

The city will own the network and lease it out to multiple private Internet service providers (ISPs) – a model that city manager Gary Hill described as a way to create “a competitive marketplace for Internet service providers."

In a letter to city councilors before the bond issuance was authorized, Hill wrote: "Resident requests and sentiment ... demonstrate a need for city involvement to provide adequate, competitive, reliable broadband services.”

After issuing an RFP in November of last year, the city contracted with the nation’s largest open access network – UTOPIA Fiber – to build, operate, and maintain the network. It is expected that construction will take about 2 to 3 years to complete, though some subscribers will likely be lit up for service within 18 months of the start of construction, scheduled to begin this month.

Dark Money Looks to Torpedo Project

A dark money campaign spearheaded by the Utah Taxpayers Association (UTA), however, is threatening to derail the project. The group, whose annual conference is sponsored by Comcast and CenturyLink/Lumen, is backing a “Gather Utah” initiative to obtain signatures for a petition that would stop the city from building the network.

Nearly $1 Billion in Rescue Plan Funds Heads to Six States

The U.S. Treasury Department announced another six states have been approved to receive nearly $1 billion in Capital Projects Funds from the American Rescue Plan to bring new broadband infrastructure to more than 180,000 homes and businesses.

The latest tranche of CPF funds is heading to Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Utah, bringing the total number of states to have been approved for their share of the $10 billion fund to 22 states.

Lehi City, Utah Breaks Ground On Open Access Fiber Network

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.

Navajo Nation Nabs $420,000 To Expand Broadband in Utah

The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) is slated to receive more than half a million dollars in Covid-relief funding from the state of Utah. The funding will help the NTUA expand fiber and wireless access to part of the 27,425 square mile Navajo Nation, improving access at Navajo anchor institutions and some of the nation’s 173,000 residents. 

The NTUA was created in 1959 by Navajo leaders frustrated by the fact that regional utilities had failed to provide uniform electricity services to the Navajo people. Still, over 60 years later and not only is the failure to electrify marginalized communities still a problem, the organization is leveraging its experience in that fight to expand broadband access as well. 

Project Timeline: 30 months

To help fix the problem, the Utah Broadband Center, run by the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, recently doled out $420,732 in broadband grants to the NTUA. Combined with $140,244 in matching funds from the NTUA, the project will bring a combination of fiber and wireless to 473 households currently unserved in Montezuma Creek, Utah. 

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The grants were part of $10 million in Covid relief funding recently awarded by the Utah Broadband Center and made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act.

“From the time they sign the contract with the state, they have 30 months to complete the project,” Rebecca Dilg, Director of the Utah Broadband Center, told ILSR. “We are still working out the details of the contracts with all grant recipients.”