IProvo losses lead to big review

City hires 2 consultants to help stanch cash flow

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  • thanks deseret
    Dec. 6, 2007 1:15 p.m.

    This article done by deseret says it all!!!! Thanks for making it so clear! iProvo is a joke, its employees are riding the wave while it is still pushing them....working on other projects while they are at the current job! This sinking ship needs to go private, have someone who knows how to properly run fiber to the home build it to where it can be an asset to the city, not a dead arm!


  • Anonymous
    Dec. 6, 2007 7:18 a.m.

    You people have no idea what really goes on inside Iprovo.

    If you want the inside scoop let me know by posting your email on here, and I will get back to you.

    I am employed there!!!!!

  • MStarInsider
    Dec. 5, 2007 10:47 a.m.

    Its too bad that the Associated Press and Deseret Morning News continue to fail to report that Councilman George Stewarts namesake and firstborn son George Stewart Jr. is Eschelon/Integras Senior Account Manager for the Wasatch Front here in Utah, and Junior would have every reason to hope for the failure of both iProvo and UTOPIA.

    I wonder if there is a small conflict of interest in Councilman Stewarts continued pointed pessimistic attacks on iProvo though he should represent the interest of the City of Provo without bias.

  • Fair Competition
    Dec. 5, 2007 7:20 a.m.

    How can anyone think it is fair if Provo subsidizes certain providers while not allowing others to participate? They have turned many providers away. If they develop a plan to funnel millions of tax dollars to their good ole boy providers it just perpetuates poor service and bad management. The American way is to make iprovo and their providers step up and compete on an even playing field. Unfortunately, this is not possible when the government manages a business. There are 101 ways that they tilt the board. Who would have thought that the ultra-conservatives in Provo would turn out to be socialists?

  • Anonymous
    Dec. 4, 2007 9:18 p.m.

    In the United States, there is a long history of gov't subsidation.

    The railroads were given massive land grants, well over a century ago. Only one transcontinental railroad was built without it.

    The Automobile industry had an huge network of highways and freeways subsidized.

    The Aviation industry had massive airports subsidized, as well as continued pilot training from the Air Force.

    As noted we already paid for the current telephone utilities lines in the early 1900s.

    All of the were government subsidization for private businesses.

  • Former Provoan
    Dec. 4, 2007 5:52 p.m.

    As for the city to subsidize private business, what on earth does Qwest and Cable want? They had a monopoly! I guess we should send them a check as well so the private sector "can work"! If the free market wants unfettered access, then why the call for monopolies and subsidies? As for wireless, it is a nice option now, but it wasn't when iProvo was started. Also, municipal wireless has a horrible track record back east even with subsidies for private sector.(Ignoring that wireless doesn't hold a candle to fiber). I know the committee in Provo based much of their planning on Ashland, Oregon. I understand that they have had similar problems to Provo but have seen some nice benefits as well such as a 20% drop in cable prices. What did Provo's cable and phone rates do since iProvo was rolled out?

  • To Rich,
    Dec. 4, 2007 4:31 p.m.

    What about cases where private businesses have a monopoly? Certain areas of Provo could only get Comcast or Qwest before Iprovo came about. The network has lowered the cost of high speed internet and cable by allowing the very competition you are talking about.

  • Former Mstar user
    Dec. 4, 2007 4:27 p.m.

    Mstar is not shining at all. I used to have their service and the customer service was terrible. I switched a while ago. My neighbor has the other provider, Nuvant or Nuvont or something, and she has been really happy with it.

  • Fiber Rocks
    Dec. 4, 2007 4:09 p.m.

    The Utah Tax-Payer's Association (AKA big businesses including Qwest and Comcast) can't stand the fact that the fiber optic network along this part of the Wasatch front gives customers affordable Internet connections that are easily 10 times faster than theirs with a smaller price tag.

    For those wishing for wireless competition; the technology can't come close and may never be able to compete with speed and overall bandwidth.

    The few problems I've experienced with service have had NOTHING to do with my "provider" MSTAR but, rather, have been the result of growing pains in the physical infrastructure that provides the service. These are growing pains we'd all do well to endure and to support our cities in installing. The current service already far outstrips anything I ever received from Qwest and is cheaper. The long-term benefits to Provo and other communities will be huge.

    The government builds roads, water systems and other forms of infrastructure to make the city work. Fiber optic service is a completely logical part of a complete and healthy city plan.

  • Rich
    Dec. 4, 2007 3:30 p.m.

    This is another example of government's sticking its nose into places it shouldn't be. Let private industry and the good old law of competition and supply and demand work. I resent it when governments get into business of any kind. Protect us from invaders and maintain our roads, and protect us from predators, but don't compete with private enterprise. I don't want a government-run gym, a government-run swimming pool, a government-run barbershop, etc., etc. Let us spend our money the way we think it ought to be spent and leave us alone.

  • Worried
    Dec. 4, 2007 3:13 p.m.

    Utopia is actually a quasi-governmental body that represents all of the Utopia cities. Dynamic Cities which has been acquired by Packetfront is the primary contractor building and deploying the Utopia network. Not only has the Packetfront deal dropped 80% of the Dyanamic City staff, but all the key members of Utopia management have also left. The lead service provider in both Provo and Utopia is Mstar. Perhaps Mstar is not shinning too bright.

  • iProvo internet is great!
    Dec. 4, 2007 2:50 p.m.

    I too have had the internet service and it's very fast and very reliable. I've been completely satisfied with it. It sounds like people are unhappy with the phone and TV service. If the city would get the other products working like the internet works then maybe it would be viable.

  • Mary
    Dec. 4, 2007 1:16 p.m.

    iProvo customer service is not good.
    iProvo picture quality often blurs out.
    iProvo prices are higher than other servers.

    Since Provo taxpayers are helping support iProvo maybe we should have some input on programming packages. I do not want poor service, high prices, and 10 channels that want to sell me garbage, foreign language channels, religious channels, bla, bla, bla. Maybe we should be able to buy the channels we want.

    Whatever the deal is with iProvo it isn't working. Time to try another strategy. If it isn't working, you must do something different to get a different outcome.

    Our present leadership has no plans to improve things. Time to get someone new. Goodbye Mr. Stewart! Goodbye Mr. Billings! Say this isn't wishful thinking.

  • Suckers
    Dec. 4, 2007 12:50 p.m.

    To all Provo residents who voted Billings back in: Thanks a heck of a lot. Couldn't you see this coming a mile away. Billings is screwing the city ever so slowly. It's his baby and don't let him BS his way out of responsibitly.

  • veedub
    Dec. 4, 2007 12:49 p.m.

    We have had iProvo since last year and have had some problems with the phone and cable service. Internet is almost always fine, and very fast! This year we decided that we no longer needed a land phone line, since we all use cell phones, and cable didn't offer us much that we were interested in (except the MTN grrr! and ESPN) so we canceled our cable and phone service and kept the internet. Our rooftop antenna works well with the several TVs week have (since the cable companies hooked them all up together), and at $40 a month, MStar's internet service is the best I've found available (but yes, their customer service is terrible!)

    I don't have any problems with iProvo, but I do think they need more providers to offer real competition.

  • John
    Dec. 4, 2007 12:45 p.m.

    We the citizens have iProvo. The debate is over whether or not it was a good or bad idea, whether we got to vote or not, or if you voted or would have if you could have. We have it. Why doesn't George Stewart, Steve Turley and others grow up and quit pointing fingers. They need to be part of the solution not the problem. They are more interested in tryng to position themselves politically then listening and doing what's best for Provo. We have great technology. Let's support it, pay for it and stop wrangling!

  • Anonymous
    Dec. 4, 2007 12:35 p.m.

    Has anyone heard that DynamiCity/UTOPIA has laid off more than 80% of their staff over the weekend? I heard they didn't get their RUS funding of $100M and are nearly bankrupt - just a skeleton crew...If this is true, when is this news story going to break?

  • BT
    Dec. 4, 2007 12:20 p.m.

    For private business - Utopia is a private business that contracts with municipalities to do what iProvo is struggling with. It is not and never has been government run. And I don't know about Comcast, but Qwest has never been willing to play ball with them, either, preferring to try and maintain their monopoly via lawsuits and obstruction tactics. Utopia could do much to help iProvo, but Billing's administration has never been willing to hire them as consultants, trying instead to copy what they have done, and glean free tips whenever they can. They could have hired Utopia to handle the whole thing from the get go and saved themselves a lot of hassle, but figured there was more money in trying to go it on their own. and now we see the results. Typical.

  • John C.
    Dec. 4, 2007 12:10 p.m.

    An estimated 25 municipalities nation wide jumped into the broadband schemes and they also failed. Tacoma subsidises it's iTacoma several million a year. iSacramento, cut bait and got .13 cents on the dollar(great return on investment of millions) the list goes on, and on. Government was incepted to provide services that no one else would do, their job is not to compete with the private sector. Without the people of Provo subsidising this norton, it will fail regardless of how long it survives, if you don't think so look at your neighbor to the south Spanish Fork same problem, over estimated take rates, poor planning, if we need more money we will take from the other departments and, raise taxes to compensate for the lost revenues.
    Next on the list is UTOPIA, brought to you by the same people that did Sacramento in, given it's unlimited resources(taxes)government should not use it to compete with the private sector.
    You folks in Provo deserve to subsidise this project. Have a good day

  • concerned about govt competition
    Dec. 4, 2007 11:51 a.m.

    Has any one heard that UTOPIA has just laid off more than 80% of its staff through Dynamic City? My understanding is that they weren't able to get $100 M funding from the USDA - Rural Utility Service and they are potentially bankrupt. If this is true, when is this story going to break???

  • The Legislature is the Problem
    Dec. 4, 2007 11:47 a.m.

    If the City of Provo could offer their own service instead of contracting with a for-profit company mandated by the Legislature they would be able to offer better service at a lower price. Instead, high priced lobbists paid by certain for-profit cable companies were successful in hobbling the model to make it difficult to make a profit.

    Change the ridiculus law and let cities/towns and counties offer their own service and have a better control of their destiny. Provo has an incredible service rate with their power department because they are in charge of the service and delivery of power to homes and businesses. Why shouldn't they be able to do the same with cable and telephony?

  • Anonymous
    Dec. 4, 2007 11:31 a.m.

    I appreciate having iProvo's fast internet and do not have any problem with the phone, even though I heard quite a bit about it. My biggest issue is Veracity's extremely poor customer service and technical support. These days I just avoid contacting Veracity and Nuovent(?) directly, even though I really like to add HDTV channels. It's a good thing iProvo are adding new provider. It's also annoying that iProvo had cut down on the number of TV channels and eliminated access to previously available music channels. This is no way to maintain customer satisfaction. If I have comcast connection at my site I would have switched long ago.

    Charging city departments for iProvo would make no difference to us. We Provo residents would still be paying for all their expenses.

  • FuruCon
    Dec. 4, 2007 11:17 a.m.

    I have philosophical differences with the concept behind iProvo.

    When government gets involved in businesses that are supposed to generate a profit and compete with other private enterprises that must make a profit or disolve (but the government run enterprise can leach off the tax payers or pull from a slush fund if they run at a loss and stay in business) it's a major advantage for the government run enterprise, which will eventually become a monopoly and then of course can make a profit because they have been able to weed out any competition because of their competative advantage.

    iProvo can live off the tax payers while times are tough and private companies try and fail to penetrate the Provo market charging competative rates for their services, while iProvo can afford to undercut the private companies prices because they have the the financial backing of the city/state and are almost guaranteed not to fail no matter what they charge or how profitable they are.

    It's a bad idea (philosophically).

  • Public broadband is like roads
    Dec. 4, 2007 11:16 a.m.

    Governments build roads. The reason they build roads is to facilitate commerce. That commerce generates revenues for the government in the form of taxes (and not just sales taxes). In an increasingly digital world, municipal broadband works just like roads. It facilitates digital commerce.

    Imagine if Qwest/Comcast was a retail store and they also owned all the roads to that store. At their store they could charge whatever they wanted to (and they do - we pay more for broadband along the Wasatch front than other metropolitan areas).

    It doesn't make you a socialist if you support municipal broadband. It means you're a realistic capitalist wary of monopolies (ie - you're tired of paying $50+/month for a tiny pipe to the internet).

    Also, don't forget that it was our tax dollars that initially built Qwest's monster copper network (through then permitted monopoly MaBell) in the early 1900s.

  • Checks and Balances
    Dec. 4, 2007 10:46 a.m.

    On the subject of providing iProvo services to the city departments; its always bad when purchasing decisions are made based upon favorite vendor status. First the services need to be justified, then diligence needs to be done to secure the least cost alternative for comparable quality. If the city opts to use iProvo for these services, how is the price set? Its too easy for these decisions to get corrupted when their is no competitve process or oversight. If others can do these "services" more competitively then they should be selected; otherwise it just becomes a subsidy or bail out to iProvo. Where are the govermental checks and balances to protect my tax dollars from this?

  • billings for mayor not
    Dec. 4, 2007 10:38 a.m.

    peolpe continue to endorse billings for mayor despite is failure with the iprovo project it has everything to do with understandinf business and billings would understand that if he really took those classes at byu that he lied about in the last election race and people continue to ignore the problems that will manifest themselves again as it gets cold this winter down time for the internet and phone becasue of the optics breaking in the cold i have considered iprovo 3 times but continue to get the same feedback internet faster then comcast but to much downtime on a weekly basis same thing with phone so the issue is bigger then billings continue to say the problem continues to be the infra structure and the mistakes during construction and laying of the fiber lines

  • happy iprovo citizen
    Dec. 4, 2007 10:31 a.m.

    don't you think that instead of complaining and criticizing it would be better to get behind the city now that we do have iprovo and support what is already there for us. We know that comcast and qwest and george stewart all have an agenda in mind with their constant barrage of telling us it won't work. If the majority of provo citizens would support i provo, it would certainly keep us from tax increases in the future. quit tearing down and let's help with our support. we love our mstarmetro tv and computer service. they are always bend over backwards to help us with any problems. i can't say that for comcast or qwest.
    com on provo, let's make it work!!!!

  • K
    Dec. 4, 2007 10:21 a.m.

    Customer service is a problem. I left MSTAR because the phone was too unreliable, but I thought I would give it another shot (hoping they have fixed the phone by now) because I like the TV (lots of local stuff plus MTN) Well, I emailed them at the address on their website and asked what it would cost to come back. That was a month ago and NO RESPONSE!!!

  • It Is Time
    Dec. 4, 2007 10:12 a.m.

    It is utterly amazing to me. iProvo has all the things it needs to be successful, except leadership. In the real world, "private sector," when management's poor decisions cause a company to spiral the Board of Directors, (In this instance the TelComm Board and Provo Citizens) demand they "resign" and bring someone in who can run the company. Billings and Garlick have made poor decisions from the start of this new "corporation," iProvo, and for some reason they are still managing the show. They can't even get the providers to pay their bills to Provo City. They talk the big talk but they have never made any changes to bring this boondoggle around. When are is the board and the shareholders (citizens) going to demand the one thing that has to be done to make sure iProvo is a success?

  • Socialist
    Dec. 4, 2007 10:01 a.m.

    Maybe they should use a similar idea and open a hundred gas stations, that way the non-rich can have access to gasoline. Provo could also franchise a Wal-Mart to ensure access to cheap chinese goods. Most importantly they need to start their own newspaper to ensure the citizens have access to the news. And of course, Provo is not served by many adult bookstores, so the government should open one or two of those as well.

  • iProvo will fail
    Dec. 4, 2007 9:57 a.m.

    If there is a profit to be made, or a respectable ROI, businesses will pursue it. If government gets involved, it will be a mess. You now have a mayor and public officials making decisions competitive business managers must make--how to make a business profitable. That's not why they were elected (for their business savvy). Unless Provo is willing to subsidize this venture indefinitely, it will certainly fail. I give it two more years of life and after huge losses, citizens will demand its termination. disclosure: I live in Springville, have no ax to grind, but have some business background (not qwest or any other iProvo connection) in the Internet/Telecommunications industry.

  • Matt
    Dec. 4, 2007 9:52 a.m.

    iProvo is not competing with anyone but the big expensive cable and telephone networks. Remember that the city simply provides the infrastructure and BUSINESSES provide the service. As more providers come on board with iProvo competition will increase, as the article says and, prices will go down and service will go up. It is a win win. If you know anything about business you'll know it takes time to become profitable, same with iProvo. It'll take time, but it will be good for everyone.

  • Miss Synthia Forsyth
    Dec. 4, 2007 9:42 a.m.

    They deserve their losses for having hopped on the I-whatever bandwagon.

  • Jesse Harris
    Dec. 4, 2007 9:34 a.m.

    I was at the meeting and was appalled to learn that iProvo was not given anything for services provided to other city departments. In other words, they have been doing the accounting as if they expected subscribers to subsidize the city's own network usage. I'm dumbfounded that they would setup the books like that and I'm glad to hear that they're going to change it up so that city departments will actually be paying iProvo for their usage. That will probably cause a drastic change in the financial picture.

  • Higher taxes
    Dec. 4, 2007 9:31 a.m.

    "one strategy is to have city departments pay more for the benefits they get from iProvo". I would like to know if the city departments are paying less or more for their services due to iProvo. That is, how much will the city departments be paying for their services under iProvo, and how much would they pay for the same level of services if iProvo didn't exist. Finally, I'd like to know if the city departments really need the level of services provided by iProvo.

  • Current iProvo Subscriber
    Dec. 4, 2007 8:58 a.m.

    It takes time to stabalize these kind of massive infrastructure projects, but the city is moving the right direction. I believe that Provo will narrow the losses in the comming years. If you ask iProvo subscribers, the outstanding speed of the internet is a real hit and positions the city, businesses and residents for cutting-edge applications. We should be wary of comments from the Utah Tax-Payers Association as a front for Qwest. I urge the council to work with the administration to make the project a success.

  • Former iProvo Cable user
    Dec. 4, 2007 8:38 a.m.

    I subscribe to iProvo Internet, and phone, but turned off my cable service because frankly, the Digital Video Recorder (DVR) was horrible when compared to my Dish Network DVR which I turned off to make the switch.
    Until providers decide to compete in quality and price with the comcasts and satellite providers, the churn rate will continue to increase.
    GET BETTER DVR'S and I'll sign up again!

  • Stacey
    Dec. 4, 2007 8:17 a.m.

    Does the other Provo utility "compete" with business? No, they have a monopoly. If the only way to have internet access in Provo was through iProvo, then iProvo would have the number of subscribers that it nees to survive. Of course it could then charge the rates that would allow it to survive not the rates it has to charge to be competitive. At present, the other options for broadband are sufficent and competitive so people are not beating down the door to iProvo. There is a reason that private business was not willing to bring fiber to the door in Provo. There is no profit in it yet, as the victims in Provo are finding.

  • New Subscriber
    Dec. 4, 2007 7:26 a.m.

    For what its' worth, I moved to Provo specifically because of the great internet access I am able to get through iProvo. Over the (very) long term, iProvo will turn out to be a good investment for the city.

  • For private business
    Dec. 4, 2007 7:23 a.m.

    So the solution to 'Former Provoan' is to incentivize Qwest or Comcast to provide a telecommunications network to Provo residents.

    Several wireless providers are willing to provide FREE wireless Internet to city residents in exchange for placing wireless antennas on city buildings to "blanket" the area.

    iProvo and Utopia are mistake projects undertaken by government because they don't understand business or customer service. (It is likely the drop rate is a combination of customer service, limits placed on the private providers, and cost of service)

  • iProvo Supporter
    Dec. 4, 2007 7:04 a.m.

    iProvo was a good idea 5 years ago and its still a good idea today. The telecom monopolies have been relentless in undermining municipal fiber projects like iProvo and locally these efforts have forced the city to revise their plans. But iProvo has already delivered on one of its initial promises -- to make available high-speed telecom services to all of the cities residents and businesses at affordable rates. Provo city will continue to refine its business model and adapt and over time the iProvo project will continue to deliver its promised benefits.

  • Concerned Citizen
    Dec. 4, 2007 6:26 a.m.

    I hear its actually much worse than they are willing to talk about since the service providers are not paying their obligations to Provo. It's great service but the day to day management needs an overhaul.

  • Max
    Dec. 4, 2007 4:23 a.m.

    I am one who tried iprovo with both providers and left both. The problem is that the phone service is too unreliable. Not a week would go by that the phone was down at some point. People would be trying to reach us and couldn't get through. Important messages were never received and this sometimes caused major problems. Nor could we call out. What if there had been an emergency. Thank goodness for cell phones!!! It was just too dangerous and too costly to have the phone be so unreliable. The TV and internet were fine though. I am looking forward to seeing who the new providers are. Maybe I will give it another shot.

  • Andrea
    Dec. 4, 2007 4:18 a.m.

    Former Provoan is typical Utah socialist who thinks he's a conservative.

    Prior to iProvo, it wasn't just the rich that were getting broadband in Provo.

    If this were about the non-rich getting broadband, then iProvo would have more subscribers by now and it would not be losing money because so many non-rich people would be subscribing to iProvo's providers' services.

    Besides, iProvo supporters said that the project would MAKE profits, not lose money.

    It will be very interesting to watch the ways Billings will try to justify even more transfers from the general fund to cover iProvo's loses.

    I live in a city without socialist broadband, and it's not just the rich that get broadband.

  • Former Provoan
    Dec. 4, 2007 12:38 a.m.

    Unfortunately, before iProvo was launched, when Provo asked "business" to provide minimal broadband to the city both Qwest and cable said no--they would only provide it to the affluent neighborhoods. So if the Utah Taxpayers Association were to have their way, only the rich get high-speed access. This doesn't excuse mismanagement but don't trash the idea that everyone should have equal access to the internet just like access to electricity (like another Provo utility that "competes" with business.)