Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Gigabit comes to my town, but not my house - yet

In Utah, we have the Utah Open Infrastructure Agency, aka, UTOPIA. They were started in 2001 to provide residents with decent internet speeds since the incumbents, Qwest (now Centurylink) and Comcast, weren't willing to do the work required to bring that about. At least not until Utopia got going.

I have a case in point. At my house, Centurylink is unwilling to offer more than 5mbs. That used to be fast. But today, well, that turns the World Wide Web into the World Wide Wait. I still can't get much more than 5mbs from Centurylink. So I needed Comcast as they were the only alternative. Hey, that's private enterprise for ya, right?

I couldn't get Comcast when I moved in here. I spent a year and a half working with Comcast to get service. Every few months, I'd call, check for availability and then give up. From time to time, there would be some expo in town and Comcast would have a booth. I'd talk to them every time. Then one day, I found a very enterprising lady who accepted my challenge. Get me connected and I'll subscribe. She did that and I've enjoyed 12, 25 and 50mbs since.

Today, Utopia announced 1 gigabit service for homes and businesses in their service area, which is about 20x faster than what I get now. Service starts at about $65 a month. Sweet. When can I get it?

Oh, wait. I'm not connected yet. Their last rollout stopped short of my house by one and a half blocks. So I'm contacting the city and Utopia. I'm eventually going to find out when they will connect my house.

With a Utopia connection, I can get the triple play at a very reasonable price compared to Comcast and Centurylink. Not that I would want to, though. I'm fine without TV. I'm using that magic jack thing for the occasional fax that I might need to send. But the network remains.

A gigabit connection means that I could conceivably work from home if my employer had gigabit access, too. Work, phone, TV, internet and who knows what else, all through one pipe. Utopia is doing what we should have done long ago: treat internet access like a utility rather than a luxury. Utopia is a true common carrier and proves the point that Net Neutrality is a Ruse.

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