Comments about ‘In our opinion: No more UTOPIA promises’

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Published: Friday, June 20 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

Updated: Sunday, June 22 2014 9:56 p.m. MDT

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BlueCoug
Orem, UT

So glad we're moving from the "utopia" of Orem to the Google Fiber of Provo.

If Orem residents were smart they'd tell "utopia" to take a hike and open the door for Google Fiber to buy their fiber optic network.

mcdugall
Murray, UT

Deseret News Editorial Board, can you honestly claim that, "But the flaw in that argument is, and always has been, that UTOPIA is offering a service plenty of private businesses already compete to provide."??? That is just is not the case. The ISP market is Utah is a duopoly if you are not in a UTOPIA city. The residents of UTOPIA cities are the only ones who have a real choice because of a more robust marketplace in choosing their ISP.

AlexanderTWolf
Lindon, UT

I recently received an advertisement from one of these supposedly robust competitive private companies. I called to inquire about service. But the service available at my house was only 1/40th of the advertised speed, and the cost was three times the advertised price. My only other choice offered slightly higher speeds at significantly higher price. For the editorial board to claim there is a robust competitive market is simply wrong. This is the reason UTOPIA began in the first place. Especially in the digital information age, where our country lights significantly behind other countries, and is surprising how many are beholden to companies which have consistently been rated as the worst customer service companies in the country. The free market reign, the argument goes. But, communications infrastructure is so critical that it should be treated as importantly as other critical infrastructures, and it should be encouraged to grow. When was the last time someone asked what the return on investment and was for police services – yet these could be provided by the private sector. Same thing with fire, parks, and the list goes on. It's not shortchange your children's future over $20 a month today.

high school fan
Huntington, UT

This was a bad idea that never got better. The city councils that voted yes for this should have been punished for all the money they spent that produced no results.
Cities should stick to building parks and roads and other such stuff and stay out of anything that competes with private business. Cities should not invest in speculative investments.

DavidMiller
Bountiful, UT

Two corrections:

First, saying that the proposed fee is somewhere between $10 and $40 is technically true but the proposed fee isn't nearly that vague. It's $18-$20 per residence and it is only due starting months after the residence is connected to the network.

Second, UTOPIA doesn't provide a service any more than UDOT provides a service. They both support infrastructure. UDOT builds and maintains roads which, among other uses, are used by FedEx, UPS, USPS, and OnTrac who compete to deliver packages to your door. UTOPIA builds and maintains a fiber-optic network which is currently used by Beehive Broadband, Brigham.net, FiberNet, InfoWest, Sumo Fiber, Veracity, WebWave, and XMission who compete to deliver high speed internet to your home.

Feel free to debate the merits of UTOPIA but quit claiming that UTOPIA competes with Comcast to provide internet - that's like saying that UDOT competes with FedEx to deliver packages. The only true debate is whether everyone should have access to high speed internet in their homes like they have access to phones or whether that should only be available to those who pay for it themselves (like phones were in their infancy).

I M LDS 2
Provo, UT

UTOPIA has been a classic money pit for about 15 years, all based on repeated promises that have gone unfulfilled. This editorial is right. The UTOPIA cities should have recognized the mismanagement many years ago, and cut the losses hundreds of millions of dollars ago!

Instead, the "mis-managers" - the city officials, UTOPIA Board of directors, and all their yes-men, have continued to throw good money after bad.

But many of these mis-managers have gotten rich playing this game!

They must be held accountable. Their personal wealth and assets should be garnished to pay back some of the losses they have greedily imposed on the taxpayers and citizens through this boondoggle.

regis
Salt Lake City, UT

The Deseret News has been consistent from the beginning that government has no business getting involved in the telecommunications business. I agree. Leave it to private industry. Taxpayers would be in much better shape if the elected officials of UTOPIA cities had listened to that advice.

The majority of elected officials now in office in UTOPIA cities probably had no vote back when this misadventure began. But as they consider whether or not to commit more tax money to the enterprise now, they should remember the first rule of holes: When you're in one, stop digging.

Kora
Cedar Hills, UT

DavidMiller- Your comparison is flawed. If you said UTOPIA does not compete with the companies that use their infrastructure your comparison would be more correct. Does Comcast or Century Link or DIGIS use the UTOPIA lines, or do they use ones they built themselves.

A more correct analogy would be if the State and Private companies both built separate rail lines to Las Vegas and you had to ride on specific trains to use the lines to get there. Now if the State lets other Companies provide the trains that they charge you for instead of the state itself providing the trains for the lines it built using tax money, that is UTOPIA. Now if the other tracks were built completely with private money and they require you to use their trains to take their tracks, those are the Comcast, Century Links etc.. But what if you want to use the private companies, why should you be subsidizing the public built tracks as well since they are going to charge you as well and another private company is going to make money off of it. And in that case, isn't the state competing with the private rail lines?

Madsen Hall Magic
Centerville, UT

My experience with Comcast was bad. Their internet speeds were slower. We often lost all Comcast service for phone, internet and cable television (several times a year). And Comcast kept raising their prices.

We love our Utopia service. Fast internet, prices are much lower in comparison to Comcast, and we haven't lost service once since signing up with Utopia and Veracity nearly 2 years ago. Better service, lower prices. I don't understand why everyone hasn't signed up for Utopia service.

DavidMiller
Bountiful, UT

Kora- You are correct that my comparison is imperfect but while Comcast and CenturyLink are using lines they built themselves it should be noted that they are allowed use the UTOPIA lines if they wish to. That's the whole point of an open network infrastructure. It should also be noted in the case of CenturyLink that while their lines were built privately they were also built with a mandate from Congress that they provide service to everyone - even those who are in rural areas where the cost of those lines doesn't justify the expense. In exchange for that mandate they charge everyone an extra fee to recover the cost of those lines. That's essentially what UTOPIA is proposing - universal access in exchange for a universal fee.

Again, you can argue as to whether that is warranted for internet access to the home or not but the argument needs to be made with the understanding that this is not so different from what we already have with out phones.

DavidMiller
Bountiful, UT

I forgot to address the second half of your comment Kora: why pay for the publicly funded train tracks as well as the private tracks? Simply because the public tracks (UTOPIA) are vastly superior to the private ones technologically and we are advancing in our internet use to the point that the privately built tracks will eventually be unable to meet our needs. The United States isn't even in the top 25 of countries with the fastest internet speeds and our speeds are less than a third that of the top performers and less than half the speed of countries such as Romania. Despite that, the private companies here are doing virtually nothing to get ahead of that curve - either because they can't or because we don't have the leverage to convince them to invest in those costly infrastructure upgrades.

kcarverg2
Centerville, UT

Madsen Hall Magic-

Your prices are much lower because it is being subsidized by tax payers.

David
Centerville, UT

kcarverg2-

Subsidized like GM, UTA, produce, milk, corn, wheat, Obamacare....

Your point?

Kora
Cedar Hills, UT

DavidMiller- My Friends with Google Fiber are very happy with the speeds, and it is priced well. And as you mentioned about Century Link, only subscribers pay the fees, those who don't subscribe don't pay. Under UTOPIA you have to pay that monthly fee whether you get the service or not. In addition that fee could be as high as $40. It is only $18-20 if all the cities on UTOPIA go for the agreement. The fewer the cities that sign on, the higher the fee.

Imagine if there was a private and public Fire Dept in town, and yes, Private Fire Departments exist and my parents are covered by one. You can subscribe to either for a certain fee, and neither will serve you without paying the fee. Now why should you be required to pay a fee to subsidize the public run department if you subscribe to the private department's services? Just because the government set it up instead of a private company? Would it be right to make everyone pay a fee to fund a new government owned airline, even if they never fly on it?

CW Sugarhouse
Salt Lake, UT

I am pleased that the editorial board has taken a stand against this UTOPIA boondoggle. It was a bad idea from the beginning. Government should not be involved in private enterprise.

One of the circular arguments made in favor of UTOPIA is that so much money has already been spent that we need to spend more money or…uhm… the money we have spent will be lost. It's how you lose everything in Vegas. The economic theory of sunk costs teaches that the money that has been spent is gone, and it doesn’t make economic sense or good public policy to spend more money because we have already lost money on a failed program.

Will Rogers would say, When you’ve dug yourself a hole, the best thing to do is stop digging. Hurrah for the Lindon City Council for putting down the shovel. UTOPIA is a money pit. Just stop digging.

Speaking of getting out of a hole, I would love to see a mayor or city council or city attorney take a stand to stop continued spending and file suit against UTOPIA for breached contract. Call it negligence. Call it fraud. Just call it off.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

I agree with the editorial. No citizen should ever be taxed to provide a "public" service when private companies already provide that service. We have Comcast connected to an in-home office. They provided the infrastructure and the service. We also have DSL through Century Link and XMission for another in-home office. Century Link provides the infrastructure and the DSL line. XMission is the ISP. We could have DIGIS provide their service. They provide the radio signals for their network and the antenna to receive those signals to the customer. Their price is competitive and their service is reported to be excellent.

I would guess that everyone on the Wasatch Front has access to the internet through at least two of the companies that I mentioned. There is no need for an extra tax so that UTOPIA can compete with private companies. Let them raise their own money, just like any private business has to do and let the cities sue them for breach of contract for services promised but not provided.

Fitness Freak
Salt Lake City, UT

"david" We DON'T LIKE GM, produce, corn.....etc. subsidized either. Why add ANOTHER subsidized item to the things that government SHOULDN'T be doing?

I'm opposed to further funding for Utopia because I don't think a senior citizen living alone in his/her home should have to pay a FURTHER tax just so their neighbors can have "fast toys".

AlexanderTWolf
Lindon, UT

It is a shame the Lindon City Council did not have the continued foresight of its predecessors to invest in the finalization of this network. It was as if we were building a new freeway, had all the lanes to the North built, and decided to stop building before the lanes to the South were built.

Kora mentions those using Google fiber are very happy. But the Google fiber project at least in Provo is being subsidized by a mandatory utility fee every month. UTOPIA's proposal with Macquarie is fundamentally the same thing. The big difference is people will save money.

Lindon has represented that more than 90% of its citizens use the Internet. Assuming they pay the lowest Internet cost with Century Link (naked DSL) for $30 a month, just the savings alone of $10 per month per household across UTOPIA, represents the next savings of more than $500 million. And that's assuming nobody upgrades! How is this a bad thing?

AlexanderTWolf
Lindon, UT

"Fitness Freak" - Do you equally object to those of us who are younger having to pay our fair share of the senior citizens facilities sponsored by each of the cities? If not,why the duplicity? Here we are talking about something that the majority of citizens use, which will be provided to them at less than they are paying today. For those people who want to upgrade, they can. For those who want to buy other services from other companies, they can. I know many people who are connected to the city's water system who also buy case loads of bottled water every year. I see very little difference here. And, again, the notion that the private sector built their networks on their own is laughable. At the very least they use the Public right-of-way. In addition, for decades the phone companies had guaranteed rates of return to build their core infrastructure. They receive lots of tax subsidies. So, since we already own the infrastructure, let's complete it and benefit from it – where's the harm?

Uofuby5
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

BLUECOUG....GOOGLE fiber isn't interested in buying utopia. They may be interested in getting the same deal they got with Provo when they were given then network at no charge.

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