A Possible New Utility Charge to Pay for iProvo

As I’ve said before, our fully built fiber-to-the-home network has many benefits, but comes with a cost, and we need a more reliable, transparent way to pay for it. The annual bond payment is $3.2 million. Since selling the network three years ago, the payments from the sale have been applied to the bond payments, but the payments from the sale ended earlier this year, and surety funds intended to secure the payments will run out soon. I’m recommending to the Provo Municipal Council that we pay for it with a monthly charge to electric utility customers. However, in the end it is a council decision.
It’s not something any of us want, but I believe it’s the right thing to do. Many of us were not involved in the original decision to build it, but we benefit either directly or indirectly, and more importantly, we have an obligation to pay for it. This at least is an open, transparent way to do it. Even the Utah Taxpayers Association agrees it’s the “least bad way forward.”
There will be a public hearing at the Provo Municipal Council meeting on September 20 on how to structure such a charge. The options include a fixed charge, charging a percentage of each customer’s utility bill, and combinations of the two. The meeting will start at 7 p.m. and will be held in the Municipal Council Chambers of the Provo City Center. I encourage residents to participate. Come and hear a presentation on the options, and tell us which you prefer.
Here are some other things to keep in mind about this issue:
  • Under each of the options, the average residential customer would pay up to $7.65 per month. 
  • The charge would begin November 1 and would continue until the bond is paid in 15 years.
  • The city is continuing to evaluate its options regarding the future of the network, including reselling it, managing it again, and “going dark,” and will seek public input on that later this year. 
  • The new utility charge would be required to cover the bond payments under any of those options.
Update: After the public hearing on September 20, the Provo Municipal Council voted on a method that is a combination of flat rates and percentages. All residential customers will be charged a flat rate of $5.35 per month. Commercial customers will be charged a flat rate of $10 and an additional 2.3% of the electric portion of their utility bills. The charge will appear as a separate line item on utility bills labeled “Telecom Debt Charge” and will begin November 1.
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    1. You want a solution? Sell Provo City Power. Use the revenues to pay off our debt.

    2. So you want people to pay $1377 for something they did not received is that legal? Would you pay car dealer or anyone even $1 for something you did not get and wont get? Stop rubbing people and go after the ones that made this bad deal and recover money from them, they have businesses they have houses, insurances, assets what ever, even criminally charge them, put their names out so that this will never happen again. Don’t still from people, from us, from your kids.

    3. Anonymous

      It should be a user charge, not an everyone charge. If people use it, they should pay for it on their telephone, cable and internet bills, if they do not use it then they should not have to pay for it. The second option that works is to sell the network to a business such as Comcast or AT&T or a company that currently does not have a presence in Utah.

    4. Anonymous

      And who owns it now. If the payments have stopped does that mean the company we sold it to is relinquishing rights to the network? If we plan to continue with the “deal” with the company we sold it to, they should be paying not those of us who have never had the service. The original plan as it was presented was for Provo to own the network and allow companies to use it for a fee. What happened to that?

    5. To Brandon; Selling Provo Power is a short sighted solution to the problem and would likely result in everyone in Provo having their electric bill increase by $12 or more per month. Not good. And Alex; I never ride the bus. My taxes subsidize UTA and I don’t squawk because I see that bus service is a great good to the entire community. I assert that without iProvo we would be paying more for inferior services from Comcast and Qwest. I waited years for DSL. Within months of iProvo, Comcast was all over me with deals for “fast” cable modem service that is still not as fast as iProvo. What you call a bad deal is actually a great deal for the community; but hard to calculate in todays dollars and cents. Just wait a couple of years when the next generation of internet kicks in and every community in America is clamoring for what Provo already has wired: gigabit service to the home. Then you will see what a great deal it is. And for God’s sake, don’t sell it off to a company like Comcast who’s profits will be best served from destroying our fiber network. That would be a crime!

    6. Anonymous

      OK, it’s Provo’s bond, and like co-signing on a loan for an irresponsible family member, we have to pay it off. Understood. Just wishful thinking, but to at least make the majority of us who NEVER wanted IProvo, and NEVER use it feel better, could our former mayor and council members at least have to pay double what the rest of us will pay each month?

    7. Anonymous

      I do not want to PAY for something I am not receiving! If you charge me $7 a month, I would like something in return.


    8. Anonymous

      Here’s an idea…
      People who don’t have broadband should pay nothing.
      People who are using iProvo pay nothing (other than their current Veracity bill).
      Divide the bond payment up among everyone else. This group has broadband through some means other than iProvo. They should pay for it for being foolish enough to fall for the marketing gimmicks of Comcast & friends. Had they used iProvo instead, iProvo revenues wouldn’t have fallen short and we wouldn’t be in this mess.

      While this plan is of course not feasible, the thought exercise does help to identify where a portion of blame should be placed.

    9. Anonymous

      Veracity should pay an equal portion per subscriber on the network. Say the proposed $7.65 per sub, then those people who already get service from Veracity don’t pay twice.

      I see this as a win-win. Everyone pays, but if you want to get something for what you’re paying, sign up with Veracity.

    10. Anonymous

      This is ridiculous, how can any of you consider charging someone for a service they didnt request and arent receiving?!!! If its not in my home then I AM NOT benefiting from it, no matter what you say.

    11. Anonymous

      I have a co-worker paying $50 for 100meg on Utopia. i would be happier paying for something worthwhile. Until then comcast.

    12. Alex Eagar

      Take back iProvo. Collect the fee, but give every Provo property basic 256 Kbps Internet. Let Utopia manage the network. Let people choose their ISP. Promote Provo as the most connected city in the nation. Watch property value rise as people choose to move to Provo. Watch the local economy boom as Utah Valley becomes the next Silicon Valley. Problem solved. Was that so hard?

    13. Joseph South

      Ok, so wanting to be supportive of my city, I checked out Veracity as an alternative to my current internet provider. The good news? On a Mps basis, they are the the cheapest of all the options! The bad news? One small detail: $600 to install it. Yes, you read that correctly. $600 to install.

      What homeowner can afford that hook up fee? How is Veracity ever going to achieve critical mass with this insurmountable barrier to any normal citizen switching over? I started this investigation in good faith, but am completely disheartened by the result. If Provo can’t make it affordable to us, what is the end game here? How in the world will the network ever be self-sustaining?

      Any way Provo could put that $5.35/month towards my hook up fee so I can afford to switch over? If you waived the monthly fee for subscribers, it would actually be worth it to switch over, though it would take 9 years for me to recoup the installation cost…no wonder no one is subscribing.

    14. Anonymous

      I believe Provo has to many projects being paid for by “we the people”. You as a council and mayor should realize many of us have not received raises or additional benefit from our positions or jobs. Please be careful when spending the money I do not have. I would hope you have the moral fiber to do what is right and ethical.

    15. LaRaine Christensen

      Okay I am slow to the punch it seems. I pay my bill not thinking what I am paying. I see this was way back years ago and I’m just waking up to this now? Wow, I just pay BECAUSE it’s on my bill? Now I am paying closer attention to the FEES I am paying and see a Telecom Charge? I call and ask what it is for and find out it’s for iProvo So, in essence, the “Free Google” is actually what we are paying for. Actually, though, it’s a good deal, $5.35 a month for the Internet.

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