City Residents Tell Investment Group No | Citizens Against Government Waste

City Residents Tell Investment Group No

The WasteWatcher

According to a June 18, 2014 article by Deseret News, residents of Lindon, Utah rejected a proposed partnership with the Australian-based Macquarie Group that would have given Macquarie control of the Lindon fiber optic network for 30 years.  Lindon is the first member of the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA) to decline the Macquarie proposal.

UTOPIA was originally formed to own and operate a telecommunications network and provide fiber optic services in the Greater Wasatch region of Utah.  Unfortunately, after twelve years, the existing network passes approximately 40 percent of total addresses and is currently available for connection in only 27 percent of addresses.

The first twelve years of UTOPIA produced an incomplete network that is currently “serving a small base of customers and languishing in debt,” according to the Deseret News article.  As a matter of fact, UTOPIA, along with the Utah Infrastructure Agency (UIA), had accumulated “$343 million of debt obligations as [of] June 30, 2013.  However UIA issued a further $12 million of bonds in July 2013, increasing the total debt outstanding to approximately $355 million.”

Then came the Macquarie Group proposal, which residents turned down, mostly because of exorbitant costs.  The resident’s opposition resulted from the 30 year timeframe and mandatory utility fees proposed by Macquarie.

An April 29, 2014 article by the Salt Lake Tribune stated that UTOPIA “was conceived by city officials 12 years ago to give businesses and homes access to Internet download and upload speeds of one gigabit per second, some 200 times faster than rates available at the time from private vendors.”

Local municipalities believed they could give residents 200 times faster service at a cheaper price than private sector counterparts.  Instead, they stuck residents with a bill of more than a quarter of a billion dollars.

Unfortunately for the residents of Lindon, despite stonewalling the Macquarie proposal, they are still on the hook for the existing debt.

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