A Broadband Utopia

A municipally owned network in Utah is poised to offer 100 megabits per second--and that's just to start

15 min read

Utopia, as described by Sir Thomas More, the man who originated the term in the early 16th century, is an imaginary place of few laws, great natural abundance, and an absence of poverty and want. We still don't know how to cure poverty and want. But in a western U.S. desert, a utopia of sorts is taking shape for broadband users who would like to get their phone, television, and Internet services from the providers of their choice.

As it turns out, this Utopia, known formally as the Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency, promises to be just that, a broadband utopia. And it is very much a real place, encompassing 14 cities in northeastern Utah. It delivers to each of its 3000 subscribers high-speed Internet access, telephony, and television programming through a fiber-optic cable at data rates that now reach 30 megabits per second. Soon, service providers there will be offering speeds of 50 and even 100 Mb/s. That's enough to download a 2-hour movie in about 6 minutes, 10 to 20 times as fast as the typical U.S. cable or digital subscriber line connection, 6 times as fast as Verizon Communications Inc.'s much-publicized fiber-to-the-home service (called FiOS) and twice as fast as the new DSL now being introduced in Europe by France Telecom and others.

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