Orem fianances better including UTOPIA fees

Utopia trucks continue to appear throughout the city as residents add on to the fiber-optic network.

Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency’s high-speed internet will be available to all of Orem by the third quarter of 2022 according to a newly released timeline.

“The framework was put in place two years ago with restructuring and financing projects,” said Roger Timmerman, executive director.

Orem Councilman Sam Lentz has been a strong supporter of UTOPIA and is currently a member of the Utah Infrastructure Agency, an entity organized to provide more oversight for fiber-optic growth.

“While my goal was for Orem to have already been built out by now, I’m grateful to at least see the light at the end of the tunnel now,” Lentz said. “UTOPIA’s leadership and staff have executed a masterful turnaround over the last few years. UTOPIA used to be limping along financially, with very limited expansion and the debt burden on cities climbing each year. We now have a clear, attainable plan to finish the network throughout all UTOPIA cities while reducing how much cities pay toward the debt.”

Lentz said that many residents have waited for more than a decade for connection.

“I hope this improved transparency helps make the remaining wait more bearable,” he said. “The first half of Orem took about fifteen years to build out. I’m excited we’ll finish the second half in about a quarter of the time.”

According to Lentz, many new cities want to join the network. Woodland Hills and Morgan recently agreed to connect.

The UTOPIA timeline shows Payson being completed by 2020. West Valley City is the biggest and it is expected to be doing by 2024.

“The cities are loving this,” Timmerman said. “There is a level of confidence we’ve never had in the past.”

He said they are growing aggressively in Orem and that things have already ramped for the build out.

So much has changed since UTOPIA first came on the scene, according to Timmerman. YouTube, Facebook, and Netflix didn’t exist.

“We are now past the days of it (high-speed fiber optics) being a luxury,” he said.

“Representing Orem on the UIA Board for the last three years, I have marveled at the dramatic turnaround that is replacing a pit of despair with a beacon of hope,” Lentz said. ”I am proud of the thoughtful, dedicated work by UTOPIA’s staff and fellow board members across the state to right the ship financially and operationally.”

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter

@gpugmire

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