UTOPIA internet now available in most of West Point; Lehi moves a step closer to fiber connections
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UTOPIA internet now available in most of West Point; Lehi moves a step closer to fiber connections

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WEST POINT — West Point has joined the ranks of Utah cities that offer residents access to some of the highest-speed internet connection as UTOPIA Fiber finished installing the project this week — well, most of it.

Crews and officials thought the entire city was ready to connect but soon discovered a subdivision was accidentally overlooked after residents in the area reported issues getting set up with the new internet provider.

For residents in the missed area, UTOPIA and the city worked quickly to sort out the issue. It appears it simply fell through the cracks and got missed. Crews will be working to install the fiber lines, and city planner Kyle Laws said they’re hopeful it will be up and running for those residents in early 2021.

While some have to wait a little longer, the rest of the city can start signing up right away — and they have.

So far, they’ve had more than 900 customers sign up for UTOPIA and are well on their way to reaching the 1,200-mark needed to cover the city’s $7.2 million bond. The first bond payment isn’t due until November 2021. If the city is unable to get enough customers signed up for the internet, they would need to cover the gap with increased taxes. But, Laws doesn’t think that will happen given the number they’ve reached in just a few days.

“We’re already 75% of the way there and it’s looking really good,” he said.

The city couldn’t have possibly predicted 2020 would bring a worldwide pandemic forcing millions to work from home, figure out remote schooling, and quarantine; the timing couldn’t have been better to provide a faster internet option to residents.

“I think that’s the great thing about local government and being able to have the impact directly to your residents, and I think it’s great,” Laws said. “I couldn’t be happier to be able to benefit residents.”

“If that can benefit the residents and give them better internet options, I think we’ve done the right thing and provided a great service to our residents,” he added.

Aside from the hiccup with the missed development, the process has gone smoothly and was running three months ahead of schedule for most of the year, even during the pandemic. The project did hit a speed bump with some permits a few months ago, but it ultimately got figured out and made the goal of having internet set up before the end of December, Laws said.

Several cities in Utah have signed up for UTOPIA connections in recent years, with Morgan completing construction earlier this year and Clearfield announcing its plans to bring fiber internet to residents.

Lehi, home to the Salt Lake Valley’s tech hub Silicon Slopes, will soon get fiber internet as well; but it won’t necessarily be through UTOPIA Fiber. The city council voted to pass a $64 million bond at its meeting this week, marking the next step forward in getting fiber internet set up in the area. Just like in other cities, the bond will be paid for from the revenue of the new fiber internet as customers purchase it.

The city will begin the project in 2021. But at a council meeting last week, Councilman Paul Hancock clarified the bond doesn’t commit the city to decide who will do the engineering. Those decisions will be discussed and finalized in the coming months.

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