Layton in Early Stages of UTOPIA Access

April 15th, 2012

This article was orginally posted on The Standard Examiner’s website on April 14, 2012 and can be found HERE.

By Antone Clark

LAYTON — UTOPIA is getting closer to being a reality in this community.

Work crews from UTOPIA will lay down fiber optic cable in a preliminary move to eventually offer fiber-to-the-household network access for high-speed telecommunications services.

Scott Woolsey, a project manager for the Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA), said over the next three months the bulk of the fiber backbone for this community will be installed. Most of the cable will be buried, but there will also be some aerial fiber installed.

The fiber will link to hubs, or huts throughout the city, that will eventually allow work crews to extend fiber from those centers to neighborhoods and businesses. Woolsey said most of the hubs will be located on city property.

The city already had one hut on Gordon Avenue and Fort Lane that provides a service area in the central section of town, north of Gordon Avenue, west of Fort Lane and east of Hill Field Road. The service area also goes south along Antelope Road.

With fiber in place, access to new voice, video or data services could potentially be available to residents within two years, according to Woolsey. Fiber optic cable, or glass light tunnels, offer faster and more efficient transmission of signal than existion copper systems. He said the timing of exteding fiber to the households will depend on demand.

City Manager Alex Jensen hopes for a faster timeframe to make high-speed telecommunications service available to residents. He said despite its financial struggles, the need for fiber infrastructure is more evident all the time.

“Fiber is the future,” Jensen said.

In the planning stages for almost a decade, UTOPIA is a group of 16 Utah cities that teamed up to form a state-of-the-art fiber-optic network. Centerville and Layton are the only Davis County communities in the network.

The network has faced a number of financial struggles from the onset, but recently received $16.1 million in federal stiumulus money. Approximately $4.8 million of that will go to Layton.

UTOPIA is backed by 20-year pledges from its participating communities. Layton’s pledge for the current fiscal year is $2,199,713, according to Tracy Probert, city finance director.

The pledge helps maintain a bond reserve for UTOPIA and varies each year. The city has been paying that pledge for the past two years, according to Jensen. The pledge is backed by sales tax revenue.