Copies Unlimited, located in a West Valley City, Utah, strip mall, is not in the service territory of DSL or cable modem providers. Dial-up service is too slow to transmit the files Rhett Sears creates, and satellite service is too expensive. So what data delivery method is available to Sears?
"The car," said owner and operator Sears. "Ill drive clear across town to get jobs. Whatever it takes to keep customers."
Sears said he estimates that he spends, on average, an hour and a half a day driving to pick up CDs and deliver proofs to customers. "Every job requires four trips when it really should require one," he said.
Last month, West Valley City was one of 11 Utah communities to pledge funds to support the construction of a network to prompt more broadband service options for small businesses and homes.
Local governments across the country are building or planning fiber networks to support alternatives to the limited high-speed-service choices available today, particularly in rural areas. The Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency, or UTOPIA, project is the largest network infrastructure initiative of its kind. The aim of the project is to create an all-fiber infrastructure that will operate as an open, wholesale network for providers to offer retail services to users.
UTOPIAs proponents hope to begin construction near the end of the summer, said Jeff Fishburn, chief technology officer at DynamicCity MetroNet Advisors, a consulting company in Lindon, Utah, that is overseeing the projects design and deployment. It will take about three more years before the network reaches all participating towns.
"The term city is probably a kind way to represent some of these communities," Fishburn said, adding that some of the towns in UTOPIA have only a few thousand users. Ten to 20 percent of the potential subscribers described in the UTOPIA business plan are small businesses.
"[Local businesses] feel like theyve been at the end of a toll road. Theres not a whole lot of choice out there," Fishburn said. "Many communities out there feel incredibly underserved."