Cyber Centerville gets a High Speed Boost

March 7th, 2012

The following article was orginally published in the March 1, 2012 edition of The Salt Lake Tribune.

By Christopher Smart

“It’s as fast as a Centerville wind.”

That’s what Centerville Mayor Ronald Russell said of his city’s new fiber-optic network that is being installed by UTOPIA, otherwise known as the Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency.

All areas of Centerville will have access to the high-speed network in the coming six months, allowing businesses and households to log Internet speeds up to 100 times faster than traditional connections, according to UTOPIA officials.

It’s advantageous for businesses and households, Russell said. In both cases, the service aims to make a tremendous difference in Internet service.

UTOPIA is a consortium of 16 Utah cities that has developed and underwritten the fiber-optic network. The organization has had its share of problems since UTOPIA launched in 2002, including a halt to construction in 2007 because of financial shortcomings.

But it’s on the move again, according to executive director Todd Marriott.

“We wanted to be here years ago,” he said. “But now, Centerville is one of the most connected cities on earth.”

The mayor hopes the fast Internet network will keep businesses in Centerville as well as attract new ones. One Centerville business, Digital Business Integration, has switched to the fiber-optic network with great results.

“Right off the bat, we have a tremendous reduction in cost and we get twice the bandwidth,” said Devon Dorrity, president of Digital Business Integration. “And we have increased our productivity.”

UTOPIA can provide speeds up to 800 megabits per second, according to Roger Timmerman, the agency’s director of network engineering. UTOPIA officials say the fiber-optic network is competitive with other cable networks.

According to UTOPIA’s Ladd Marshall, residential users can subscribe for a service that provides 20 megabits per second of upload and download capacity for about $55 a month. For about $60 a month, a residential customer can get 50 megabits per second. And for about $70 a month, the service jumps to 100 megabits per second.

“The real value is what residents say about it,” Marshall said. “One resident said he’s been connected for two months and hadn’t seen the word ‘buffering’ once. It takes the hassle out of Internet.”

The fiber-optic network in Centerville will be key to attracting “tech-type” companies, the mayor said, and, potentially, developing a business park west of Interstate 15 that will create jobs.

“UTOPIA has had its struggles and we wondered if it would ever get to Centerville,” Russell said. “But we feel fortunate that we’re building-out now.”