Understanding UTOPIA, Macquarie, and the options open to cities

UTOPIA has been a hot topic ever since it was formed over a decade ago. For supporters (like me), it’s a necessary step to break up a government-granted monopoly in telecommunications services that have become vital to modern life. For opponents, it’s an overreach by local governments into the private sector and wastes taxpayer dollars. Whatever your philosophical take, it’s important to understand what it is, what it has tried, and where it is going since 11 Utah cities are on the hook for over $200M in bonds.

The Macquarie Deal Sounds OK, But History Counsels for Caution [The Hub Debate]

This is  a Hub Debate on the proposed Macquarie acquisition of UTOPIA. Participate in the comments or submit a response for publication to UtahPoliticoHub@gmail.com. Resolved: “UTOPIA cities are being offered a lifeline by Macquarie and, despite the estimated $18 to $20 per household utility fee increase, should take the deal.” When I first moved to Layton in 2009, I looked around for good Internet service, and discovered that Layton was part of UTOPIA. I was told that the network build out was about three blocks from my home and would be there in no less than…

Macquarie Senior Vice President Argues Benefits of Match with UTOPIA [The Hub Debate]

This is  a Hub Debate on the proposed Macquarie acquisition of UTOPIA. Participate in the comments or submit a response for publication to UtahPoliticoHub@gmail.com. Resolved: “UTOPIA cities are being offered a lifeline by Macquarie and, despite the estimated $18 to $20 per household utility fee increase, should take the deal.” Pete Ashdown, CEO of X Mission, blogs about a great moment from a recent public meeting in which an elderly gentleman, who was around when Murray debated whether to install sewer and water lines, told about the critics back then who said they didn’t want…

Municipal Broadband Is A Failed Model. I Told You So! [The Hub Debate]

This is  a Hub Debate on the proposed Macquarie acquisition of UTOPIA. Participate in the comments or submit a response for publication to UtahPoliticoHub@gmail.com. Resolved: “UTOPIA cities are being offered a lifeline by Macquarie and, despite the estimated $18 to $20 per household utility fee increase, should take the deal.” Ten years ago, I wrote  an article and said  that a $40 million gamble to build a fiber network was undue risk to Provo taxpayers. I predicted tax increases. Today that tax increase is an extra $7 per month for all Provo utility customers. Unlike most government…

A Municipal Version of the Dating Game [The Hub Debate]

This is  a Hub Debate on the proposed Macquarie acquisition of UTOPIA. Participate in the comments or submit a response for publication to UtahPoliticoHub@gmail.com. Resolved: “UTOPIA cities are being offered a lifeline by Macquarie and, despite the estimated $18 to $20 per household utility fee increase, should take the deal.” Let’s play a municipal version of The Dating Game. We have three contestants, each with their strengths…but which one should our municipality tie the knot with?

Fiber-Optic Is the Future; It Should Be the Present [The Hub Debate]

This is  a Hub Debate on the proposed Macquarie acquisition of UTOPIA. Participate in the comments or submit a response for publication to UtahPoliticoHub@gmail.com. Resolved: “UTOPIA cities are being offered a lifeline by Macquarie and, despite the estimated $18 to $20 per household utility fee increase, should take the deal.” A few years ago, Utopia was laying down fiber for cheap in Orem. Seemed like a good deal, and I knew the speed benefits of fiber-optic. We were one of the beta homes, and I was disappointed in their service. I cancelled them after a…

Many Reasons to Say ‘No’ to UTOPIA [The Hub Debate]

This is  a Hub Debate on the proposed Macquarie acquisition of UTOPIA. Participate in the comments or submit a response for publication to UtahPoliticoHub@gmail.com. Resolved: “UTOPIA cities are being offered a lifeline by Macquarie and, despite the estimated $18 to $20 per household utility fee increase, should take the deal.” Taxpayers in UTOPIA, Utah’s largest and most spectacularly failing municipal telecom system, have many reasons to “say uNOpia to UTOPIA.” First, a $1.8 billion tax hike is preposterous. Second, UTOPIA failed throughout its 10-year history. Third, it’s wrong to require every resident and business…

The meat of the Macquarie deal: pay less, get more [The Hub Debate]

This is  a Hub Debate on the proposed Macquarie acquisition of UTOPIA. Participate in the comments or submit a response for publication to UtahPoliticoHub@gmail.com. Resolved: “UTOPIA cities are being offered a lifeline by Macquarie and, despite the estimated $18 to $20 per household utility fee increase, should take the deal.” It’s not too often that you get a win-win scenario, but that’s exactly what Macquarie, an Australian investment bank, is bringing to the table for UTOPIA cities. The meat of the deal is that each household will be assessed a utility fee between $18 and…

Buzz: West Valley City Announces Partnership with Ooma to Provide Free Phone Service to All Residents

In a news conference carried on West Valley City’s website this morning, City Manager Wayne Pyle announced that the city is working on a partnership with Ooma to provide free phone service to every resident of West Valley City. Residents would be responsible for taxes and fees and there is also a charge to port an existing number. The city projects that the partnership would save residents around $20M per year in telecommunications costs. This service will ride on top of the completed UTOPIA network assuming that the city council accepts…

UTOPIA/Macquarie Deal is a Mistake [The Hub Debate]

This is  a Hub Debate on the proposed Macquarie acquisition of UTOPIA. Participate in the comments or submit a response for publication to UtahPoliticoHub@gmail.com. Resolved: “UTOPIA cities are being offered a lifeline by Macquarie and, despite the estimated $18 to $20 per household utility fee increase, should take the deal.” Supporting the UTOPIA Maquerie deal is a mistake for three main reasons: Cities should not seek to compete in private enterprise. More taxes won’t fix the broken network or make it more successful. If passed, it is likely to be defeated in referendum. It is…