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PO Box 1356
Sandy UT 84091

- UTOPIA Project History


For more than 40 years, IBM dominated the computing business.  IBM maintained their dominance in part by tying application software to hardware and individual hardware components together in tightly controlled proprietary packages.  In the mid-1970’s, IBM misread the growing demand for smaller, more accessible computing services.  A grass roots revolution to create “personal” computers with interchangeable components and application software that could run on multiple vendors’ hardware platforms grew in basements and garages across the country.  This “open” model was a disruptive force in the computing world and ultimately led to the marginalization of mainframe computers and of IBM as a computer manufacturer.

Today, a similar revolution is growing in the telecommunications industry.  For decades, Bell Telephone, the “Baby Bells” and a handful of cable providers have maintained federally supported monopolistic control of telephone, cable, and data networks throughout the country.  While the components to build a telecommunications network cannot easily be stored in one’s garage, many municipalities, cooperatives and other organizations are recognizing the growing grass roots demand for true consumer choice on true broadband networks.  Financially responsible ubiquitously deployed public/private partnership open access fiber to the premises networks represent a disruptive model well suited to meet this grass roots demand and revolutionize the delivery of telecommunications services.

Public/private partnership fiber to the premises may very well determine the course of broadband deployment and services convergence and may make the difference between economic success or failure of a community.  Much like the rail systems of the late 1800’s, today’s advanced communications infrastructures represent a means by which communities may participate in, or find themselves left out of, the global economy.  Many communities are discovering that critical telecommunications needs in their business and residential markets are going unmet, and since these advanced communications infrastructures are essential for the current and future economic vitality of their communities, they have begun to act on these needs.  Just as city councils have traditionally grappled with municipal infrastructure issues including, roads, electricity, and water, they now find themselves adding broadband availability to that list.
Unfortunately, the public good often lies crossways with the interests of incumbent private network owners.  The private sector typically under-invests in infrastructure – to the point of developing their economic models around the management of scarcity.  Government, on the other hand, has historically provided the infrastructure to support business and residents: directly, as in the case of highways and airports, or indirectly through the support of monopolies such as industrial revolution era railroads or the 20th Century telephone companies.  The reason for the different approaches to infrastructure between the public and private sectors is easy to explain: return on investment.  Private companies are often driven by their quarterly reports; those capital investments with slow returns, such as telecommunications infrastructure, are usually abandoned in preference for those with higher and more rapid returns.  Governments, by contrast, measure returns differently, looking at community impact and accomplishment of public policy objectives rather than profit.

Many communities have determined that it is in the best interest of their residents to build power plants, airports, garbage collection, and other utility services that are sometimes operated by the government and other times offered as a wholesale platform to retail providers.  In this 21st Century information economy, municipalities, counties, and other governmental entities must determine if deploying a telecommunications infrastructure is in their best interest.  This determination may require one or more feasibility studies. 

This document lays out the elements of a typical feasibility study.  Click the expander button... see more on each topic.

Broadband Deployment and Public Policy

Current State Evaluation

Potential Models and Available Technology

Comparison of Wholesale vs. Retail Models

Retail Market Potential

Competition and Potential Partnerships

Future Broadband Trends

Ten Year Deployment Plan with Budget and Staffing

Potential Roadblocks/Impediments and Potential Legal Issues

21st Century telecommunications needs may very well demand that municipalities build networks in an open access or private model in order to compete in a global information economy. A thorough feasibility study should not only address the financial implications of the community's decision but should also take a look at the public policy objectives being addressed. We commend communities for taking the very important step of studying the issue and working to reach an informed decision.

21st Century Municipal Telecommunications
Own your future.
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