Over the past year, iProvo experienced a consistent flow of canceled subscriptions while the number of new subscribers gradually decreased, a Provo City Council member reported Tuesday.
For 2007, a total of 1,381 clients canceled their subscription to iProvo which provides Internet, phone and television/video services an average of 115 subscribers per month, City Council Member George Stewart said Tuesday. At the same time, iProvo only managed to expand its clientele base by 808, an average of 67 per month.
"We're not excited about the direction," Stewart said. "It's a little disturbing."
The year-end statistics come shortly after reports revealed that the state auditor wants to take a look at all of iProvo's billing records for the past three years. The request came because Provo's annual financial report showed MStar and Veracity owed the city $1 million at the end of the fiscal year.
As previously reported, Mayor Lewis Billings initially stated the city had confidentiality agreements to uphold. But Tuesday night he stated they decided, upon further review, to produce the requested documents.
"We ... are confident we can do so in a manner that will not place us in violation of our nondisclosure agreements with our current retail providers," he wrote in an e-mail response.
As for the report Stewart provided to fellow City Council members Tuesday, Billings said he has not had a chance to review it and could not verify its data. He did state they are not where they would like to be with the iProvo project but remain positive it will pan out.
"We continue to be optimistic," he stated, "and feel the project team is continuing to make good progress on this very important project."
Even Stewart saw a silver lining in the numbers. Compared to the total number of subscribers, the percent of canceled subscriptions gradually decreased from 1.88 percent in January 2007 to about .6 percent in December 2007.
"I don't want to be a naysayer," he said. "But the public has a right to know (iProvo) is a great technology, but, right now, it's not successful."
Stewart said he suspects the trend of canceled subscriptions is attributable to competition. Each week, he says he receives an advertisement in the mail from Comcast offering a subscription at about $24 a month.
"They have no interest in seeing us succeeding," he said.
Kevin Garlick, acting telecom manager for the iProvo project, said he couldn't confirm the data provided by Stewart, but he did agree iProvo is experiencing churn a steady flow of cancellations as new members subscribe.
"That continues to be a challenge for us," he said.
Garlick said he couldn't comment on Stewart's assertion that competition is the main cause of the customer churn because iProvo retail providers MStar, Veracity and Nuvont Communications deal with the customers when they cancel. But they plan to work with the providers to understand why people discontinue their service."We're trying to come up with techniques and methods with the providers to keep customers happy," he said.