The Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA) is ready to roll after closing on $85M in bonds

July 29, 2004

3 Min Read

MURRAY, Utah -- The Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA) on Thursday closed $85 million in revenue bonds to finance Phase I of the fiber-to-the-premises advanced communications network that will serve residents of 11 pledging member cities.

Design and engineering work on Phase I will now accelerate, with construction to begin in August. Phase I will connect more than 50,000 premises in portions of six cities in Salt Lake County (Murray, West Valley and Midvale) and Utah County (Orem, Payson and Lindon). UTOPIA is one of the largest fiber-to-the-premises projects in the country.

"It has been a very long time coming, with a lot of twists and turns, but we are thrilled to get moving on this open, big broadband network that will assure all citizens and businesses have the opportunity to access high speed services," said UTOPIA Chair Daniel C. Snarr, mayor of Murray.

“Leaders in our member cities have been visionary and courageous in working through numerous obstacles,” said Paul Morris, UTOPIA executive director. “We’re more convinced than ever that this is the telecommunications model of the future—an open broadband network that will allow consumers and businesses to choose advanced telecommunications services, video entertainment and ultra-high-speed Internet access from a variety of competing service providers.”

Phase 1 of the project is expected to be completed within a year. Phase II, which will expand the network to other cities (Brigham City, Centerville, Layton, Perry, and Tremonton) and additional connections in the Phase I cities, will require additional financing.

The specific location of the first areas to be built is still to be determined. “We’re looking at detailed engineering data and specifications in three or four locations,” said Roger Black, chief operating officer and treasurer.

UTOPIA is an interlocal entity, authorized under provisions of Utah law, with a current membership of 14 Utah cities. Its mission is to design, finance, build, operate and maintain an all-fiber telecommunications infrastructure to be operated as an open, public, wholesale network over which private providers of retail digital services will reach their customers.

Tax dollars will not be used to build or operate the system, which will rely on revenues from service providers to repay the bonds. Eleven of the participating cities have pledges that guarantee a portion of the entire project. The pledges may only be called upon if the project is unsuccessful. The financing plan has built-in safeguards that enable the Board of Directors to monitor the success of the project as it proceeds and take corrective actions to minimize city risks.

Closing on the financing came Thursday after the UTOPIA Board of Directors authorized the sale of bonds in a resolution unanimously approved in a board meeting on Tuesday, July 27.

Deployment of the network should proceed with little delay because contracts are in place with key vendors and service providers. DynamicCity is responsible for the design, implementation and management of the network. Tetra Tech Construction Services, Inc., will construct the network. Communications Technology Services, Inc., will provide deployment services in premises. AT&T will be the first company to offer advanced voice, video and data services over the network.

Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA)

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