Broadband Blues: The West Side Story

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For those of you who are not aware, various municipalities within Utah are working together to build an interlocal fibre-optic network called UTOPIA. Already currently running in some areas, the project allows for transmission of Internet, VoIP phone, and Digital Television to the participating municipalities for a relatively low cost. The revenue generated then go back to the municipalities that are participating.

The project is very ambitious, but worthwhile as participating customers can have a minimum of 10Mbps synchronus internet access, and for the same price as DSL connections tend to be. It's faster than Cable internet, faster than DSL, and even faster than wireless connections. It can allow home developers to build and host their own websites without a fear of bandwidth problems, or even host their own Television stations if they so choose. It's the Utopia that every tech geek would want... If they could get it.

There are a number of limitations to the UTOPIA project, the first of which is distribution. Currently only 14 cities within Utah are participating, and that means not everyone can have that kind of development. It's also highly distrusted by the dominant telecommunications companies in Utah (Namely Qwest and Comcast) because they see less-expensive competition moving on their turf that doesn't have to use their network. And finally, it's moving very slowly in it's deployment due to recent funding issues and construction costs.

In particular, West Valley City (the second largest municipality in Utah, and to the West of Salt Lake City) has been moving very slow. While they are currently building the project on the East side of the city, it is not expected to reach the West side (and incedentially, the side that I am on) until late 2008 - early 2009. This means that I have to settle for more conventional, and slower, internet connections until that fibre-optic cable is connected to the house.

The problem is, there are not a whole lot of broadband internet options within the west side of West Valley City to begin with. Qwest has yet to provide a decent DSL connection to the area, perhaps punishing the city for it's involvement in UTOPIA (but that's just my opinion). Comcast is available, but as the only wired internet provider in the region the connection speed is split too many ways to be useful.

Luckily there is a wireless option with The Blue Zone, which offers reasonable rates for it's connection speed and remains very reliable. But, while I don't want to sound disloyal to the best internet service currently available to me, it's not the 10Mbps or 100Mbps that I would want to have in order to explore the internet options that I have envisioned. Currently I have the option of hosting my own website (though no server to serve it up...yet), but I have a vision that includes distance learning options, video streaming, and perhaps even some VoIP communication options. But in order for these goals to be met, I need to have the bandwidth to handle the traffic.

So that's why I have the Broadband Blues... I have the vision, I have the projects outlined and ready for development, but I don't have all the necessary tools to get the job done. What is the major hole in my progress? Bandwidth. To get the bandwidth I need, I would have to host my servers at a data center (like Xmission) for more money than I can afford. So the ideas that I have are currently floating in mid air, waiting for the Utopia that can bring them to a reality.