Monday, April 04, 2011

Community Broadband Networks

An interesting article in Government Technology magazine refers to a new community broadband map published in March 2011. Just as interesting as who is on the map, is who is not. Several communities in Utah, for example, were among the very first to build community fibre networks. In 1997, a group of neighbors that had begun by networking their homes together for multi-player gaming started a company called Airswitch. The company began branching out to neighboring communities, including American Fork and Pleasant Grove. Eventually, the cities of Springville and American Fork purchased their portions of the network from Airswitch. Four years later, American Fork was looking to sell the network it had purchased. I am still a user of that network which has provided excellent service and high capacity bandwidth at reasonable prices for over 10 years.

The Airswitch experiment continued to spawn interest in community broadband in Utah. Even without these early networks showing on the community broadband map mentioned above, the extent of broadband networks in Utah is well under-represented. UTOPIA was created by 16 Utah cities as a way to bring high capacity network infrastructure to their communities. These cities, which are mostly not represented on the map, include Brigham City, Cedar City, Cedar Hills, Centerville, Layton, Lindon, Midvale, Murray, Orem, Payson, Perry, Riverton, Tremonton, Vineyard, Washington, and West Valley City.

iProvo was another broadband service that was also created initially by the city of Provo and later sold to a private provider. After lining up over 10,000 subscribers, but continuing to lose money, iProvo was sold to Broadweave Networks which today operates as

Even though as a general observation, the map shows more community networks than expected, the networks shown in Utah are actually less than expected.

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