High-tech

Ivins offers poll to residents to gauge interest in fiber internet to every home – St George News

IVINS — JUst as engineering work is beginning in neighboring Santa Clara for a fiber-optic system that will bring ultra-high-speed internet to every address in that city, Ivins is polling residents as to whether they want to see the same thing in their city.

Stock photo | Photo by kynny/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St George News

The poll, which can be accessed from the city’s websiteincludes four questions concerning whether residents would approve of such a system, which would be installed by UTOPIA.

Ivins Mayor Chris Hart, who said he’s been a proponent of such a system for more than two years, said the purpose of the survey is to gauge residents’ support of the proposed system and see how much they would be willing to spend to utilize it .

“This is going to be a continuing discussion for us,” Hart said during the Ivins City Council’s Feb. 17 meeting.

Santa Clara became the first Southern Utah city to approve backing a citywide fiber-optic internet system back in Novemberjoining the partnership of Utah cities known as the Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency, also known as UTOPIA.

In an undated photo from the spring of 2021, UTOPIA Fiber crews lay out conduit fiber cables in a neighborhood, location and date unspecified | Photo by Lynda Shenkman/UTOPIA Fiber, St George News

While a bond by the Utah Infrastructure Agency is paying Santa Clara’s bill, Santa Clara is providing backup funding for any shortfalls; however, the infrastructure agency has said it expects subscription fees of users to ultimately pay off the bond.

Ivins would have the same funding structure with UTOPIA.

Engineering work has been ongoing on the Santa Clara network with the first actual construction expected to begin next month.

Santa Clara council member Jarett Waite, who spearheaded the UTOPIA effort in his city, spoke before the Ivins City Council during the Feb. 17 meeting to give his perspective on UTOPIA.

Waite passed along conversations he had with UTOPIA Executive Director Roger Timmerman concerning Ivins, noting that while Ivins would be a larger project in cost and size, it wouldn’t be any more difficult to execute.

“Roger said it’s a low risk in Ivins,” Waite told the council.

Ivins Mayor Chris Hart speaks during the formal dedication of the new Ivins City Hall, Ivins, Utah, Nov. 5, 2021 | Photo by Chris Reed, St George News

While Santa Clara is a $6.7 million project, prices rising and around 1,000 more residents would make the cost to build the network in Ivins about double that, Waite added.

With that, while Santa Clara will need 35% of households in town to subscribe to the line to pay for the bond without city funds being used, Ivins would need a “take rate” of 42%. The service is expected to cost around $65 a month for 250 Mbps and $80 for 1,000 Mbps, or 1 Gbps.

In comparison, CenturyLink offers 100 Mbps for $50 per month in most areas of Ivins, and TDS has a monthly rate of $67 for 300 Mbps internet. The Kayenta community also has its own service that relies more on wireless towers around $100 per month for 150 Mbps.

However, UTOPIA managers note that private internet service providers don’t offer fiber or the highest speeds to every household.

Stock image. | St George News

Hart said the survey will help city leaders see if there is a demand for public, open-access high-speed internet network to every household.

The survey first asks, “Would you be interested in this service that guarantees 1 GB up and down with multiple Internet Service Providers if it came at a comparable cost?”

The next questions after that concern pricing expectations.

Hart said representatives from UTOPIA are expected to make a presentation soon to the council.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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