UTOPIA in Centerville

November 16th, 2012

Centerville Becomes First UTOPIA City to Achieve 100 Percent on Construction of Backbone for Ultra-High-Speed Fiber-Optic Network 

Construction of city’s major trunk lines completed in 1 ½ years due to federal stimulus funds; 22 percent of single-family homes subscribe to the network in just 15 months

Salt Lake City (November 16, 2012) – Centerville City has become the first UTOPIA city to achieve 100 percent build out of the major trunk lines, or backbone, for its community-owned, ultra-high-speed, fiber-optic network.

A federal grant from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) made possible the completion of Centerville’s fiber-optic network backbone in a year and a half.

UTOPIA, the consortium of Utah cities formed to provide critical advanced communications technology to their residents, began construction of the major trunk lines, also called “middle-mile infrastructure,” in Centerville in May 2011 and can now provide individual fiber connections, or “last-mile infrastructure,” from roads to virtually all of the city’s residences and businesses.

Centerville residents living in apartment buildings, duplexes, townhomes and similar multi-dwelling units (MDUs) or in developments managed by homeowners associations (HOAs) may not be able to subscribe to services over the network. Agreements would have to be worked out with HOAs and MDUs that would allow UTOPIA access to private roads and property to install extensions from major trunk lines to these types of residences.

“I remember our finance director telling a reporter in August 2011 that not one of our residents could subscribe to our community-owned, fiber-optic network,” says Ron Russell, Centerville Mayor. “Now, just 15 months later, 22 percent of our single-family homes take advantage of UTOPIA’s  lightning-fast speeds and significant savings, and we expect that number to increase to more than 40 percent as residents become more familiar with the network and its benefits. All Centerville citizens can access the network wirelessly in various city-operated locations like parks.”

“Centerville local businesses will also realize the significant advantages of being able to connect to our ultra-high-speed network, particularly on the west side of the freeway,” continues Mayor Russell. “The previous dearth of connectivity options in that part of the city made it necessary for some companies to cobble together their own very expensive and unreliable wireless and satellite systems or rely on extremely slow dial-up access; as a result they could not grow their businesses. We expect the UTOPIA network to be a cornerstone of future economic development for our community.”

UTOPIA supplemented the $16 million BTOP grant, which was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, with $8 million in local bond proceeds, for a $24 million investment in completing extensive portions of fiber-optic infrastructure in Centerville, Layton, Midvale, Murray, Orem and West Valley City. Building out the “middle-mile backbone” in these six cities will allow for the connection of nearly 400 critical institutions like schools, fire stations, senior centers and municipal utilities.

“We are thrilled that we have been able to connect Centerville’s municipal buildings, utility facilities and emergency response functions to the UTOPIA network,” says Todd Marriott, Executive Director of UTOPIA. “Mayor Russell reports that the city has reduced its telecommunication costs by 60 percent, while increasing speeds many times over, and has saved countless hours of valuable employee time now that necessary data downloads take only minutes or seconds instead of hours.”

Upon completion of the stimulus-funded construction in 2013, UTOPIA will have built approximately 250 miles of new fiber lines in the participating six cities and connected about 400 community sites, including 161 public safety entities, 39 K-12 schools, one library, 12 institutions of higher learning, 55 health care facilities, and 104 government buildings, such as senior centers, city halls, parks and water and sewer facilities.

As of November 6, the stimulus funding has allowed UTOPIA to:

  • Connect the government facilities of all but one of the cities benefitting from the stimulus-funded construction;
  • Install fiber to 129 community anchor institutions;
  • Lay 109 miles of new fiber;
  • Extend fiber to a business park in West Valley City and be considered for another grant to expand the infrastructure to even more businesses in that city;
  • Aid in the repurposing of a previous EPA Superfund site in Midvale’s Bingham Junction development to provide critical infrastructure to city facilities and create network redundancy capabilities, which has attracted numerous well-paying businesses and their employees who are choosing to live in new housing in the development and creating an upswing in the city’s average household income as a result;
  • Focus on connecting public safety facilities, such as fire and police stations, in Layton, make possible a link between the Weber State University Layton campus and the institution’s primary campus in Ogden, and facilitate the expansion of fiber infrastructure to additional businesses in that city.