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No UTOPIA

Posted - Mar. 24, 2004 at 9:32 p.m.



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You’ve probably heard about UTOPIA – the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency. It’s a consortium of Utah cities that’s talking about building, maintaining and operating a costly fiber-optic telecommunications network. Virtually every home and business in the UTOPIA cities would be linked to the network, making products like high-speed Internet readily available.

UTOPIA may be grand idea, but is it realistic? The price tag is a half-billion dollars and growing. Ideally, revenue generated from subscribers once it’s functional would pay for it. But to get the lowest interest rate on bonds needed to fund it, the participating cities would have to pledge a portion of their sales tax revenue for 20-years to guarantee repayment of the bonds. KSL believes that is a risk taxpayers shouldn’t be required to take.

Besides, in our rapidly changing technological world, it is legitimate to wonder if fiber optics will remain on the cutting edge of information technology for another couple of decades?

Initially, 18 cities were part of UTOPIA. Two weeks ago, South Jordan wisely pulled out of the agency. Other communities, reportedly, are considering withdrawing as well. It seems appropriate for all of the cities to re-evaluate their commitment to the project. In KSL’s view, UTOPIA, simply, is not what its name implies!

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