Utopia, a project that will connect homes and businesses in 11 cities in Utah with fiber, has just taken a major step forward.
Today, organizers announced that they have secured $85 million in bond financing to start the first phase of the project. Phase I, which begins in August, will include the build-out of fiber in six cities. Phase II, which will require additional financing, will include homes and business not completed in the first part of construction along with customers in the remaining five cities.
People have been watching Utopia closely, since it is one of the biggest fiber-to-the-premise networks in the United States. The project's success was questioned a few months ago when Salt Lake City said it would not back bonds to finance the project with its own money.
Utopia is following in the footsteps of another fiber project in Utah. iProvo, a network owned by the power company in Provo, Utah, is set to begin offering service over its fiber network to customers later this summer. The city recently approved its first service provider that will lease capacity on the network.
Critics say that city-owned telecommunications networks are too risky and that they are doomed to fail. I think the projects will survive, but I wonder if the promises that organizers have made will really become reality. For example, will services over this network really be cheaper than what local incumbent providers will offer? And how long before consumers really need to tap the full capacity of their fiber connections?
I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for the outcome. Well, not really on the edge of my seat. I mean this isn't as exciting as Spider-Man 2. But I am interested. So stay tuned. I'm following the story.