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West Valley City Journal

UTOPIA fiber-optic network now available to all of West Valley City

Jul 01, 2022 11:54AM ● By Darrell Kirby

By Darrell Kirby | [email protected]

After years of construction and questions about its financial efficacy, the UTOPIA fiber-optic network is in place throughout all of West Valley City.

UTOPIA (Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency) Fiber and West Valley City manager Wayne Pyle announced in late May that the high-speed network is available to all residents and businesses in the city who have the option of connecting to the high-speed network. West Valley City is the largest city in Utah and second biggest in the United States to be fully connected to a fiber-optic network. Actual broadband service is delivered through UTOPIA’s network by private internet service providers.

“UTOPIA Fiber is an important part of our economy in West Valley City,” Pyle, who is also chairman of the consortium’s board of directors, said in a press release. “Having fiber built to every home and business has enabled us to bridge the digital divide,” he continued, adding that it has also helped the city attract and retain major employers.

“We are seeing some strong growth in subscriptions in West Valley,” said Kim McKinley, UTOPIA’s chief marketing officer. She adds that a better indication of subscriber acceptance will come after a campaign to let people know the service is available to them, but numbers show about 5,000 customers receiving UTOPIA service out of 30,000 homes that have it available to them.

“West Valley is a very diverse city. We’re working to put more Spanish-speaking ads to reach people who might not be  impacted by our traditional marketing efforts,” she said.

McKinley noted there may be pockets of housing along private roads managed by homeowners associations that don’t yet have UTOPIA Fiber because agreements haven’t been reached to install it on those properties.

UTOPIA has 19 member cities in the state stretching from Tremonton and Brigham City in the north to Santa Clara in the south. Midvale, Murray and West Valley City are three participating municipalities in Salt Lake County.

UTOPIA has had its share of critics since the project launched in 2004. Some questioned the use of tax dollars by cities to build the infrastructure with no guarantees that enough people would sign up for internet service to help provide some return on the investment. 

In 2010, then-West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder lamented the city being on the hook for $147 million for UTOPIA from 2010 to 2040, but felt that with enough subscribers over time that financial commitment would be lessened.

Pyle wrote in 2013, “In order for UTOPIA to reach its ultimate potential, our citizens must support the network. We are confident that their support will follow as they learn of and demand UTOPIA’s benefits.”

Time will tell.