Provo, Utah, a city of more than 105,000 has owned its own power plant since 1940 (see Provo Mayor’s message: November 2000). In 2000, Mayor Lewis Billings began discussions that resulted in decisions to deploy a city-wide fiber optic network called iProvo.
The city owns this network, but leases it to companies who will provide telecommunication services to Provo residents and businesses.
Larry Lessig would be pleased. He slammed the private sector in a Wired magazine article last year for failing to deliver broadband services quickly enough in the U.S. This nation has fallen from 1st place to 13th place in broadband deployment in the last few years.
Today I checked the map to see when my neighborhood will get the services. We are in one of the phase IV sections, so service will get here in July 2005. The entire city will be finished by mid-2006. iProvo claims speeds that are 100 times faster than cable and 250 times faster than DSL. I can’t wait. I’ve had high speed internet since I bought a DirecPC satellite dish in the fall of 1995, but I’ve never had speeds this fast, even at work.
Novell is making 25,000 sq. ft of space available in one of its buildings for an incubator of open source software companies. All the businesses who locate there will be hooked into the iProvo fiber network, given them tremendous bandwidth at a very reasonable price.
It’s nice to live in such a forward looking state. First the Utah pioneers developed irrigation techniques in 1847 so they could raise crops, even in a desert.
In the late 20th century we invented computer graphics at the U. of U. (Evans and Sutherland), digital audio (Tom Stockham), word processing (WordPerfect), and computer networking (Novell.) We also lead the nation in entrepreneurship, with more Inc. 500 companies per capita than any other state.
Now the UTOPIA project and iProvo will help ensure that we maintain an edge in innovation.
Thanks Mayor Billings and whoever championed UTOPIA. With our fastest internet speed, highest birth rate, and the biggest population under 18, we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with for generations.