iProvo has had a tough time making a go of their network initiative, but now Veracity is doing much better. Veracity is marketing the network and selling services as well as maintaining the network. They are generating cash so Provo can make the bond payments minus some operating expenses. Over time they should be able to generate cash to make the bond payments, operate the network, and eek out a modest profit. The Provo example shows that municipalities need private sector partners with experience in operating broadband networks and a business.
After five years, a couple of owners and few other course corrections, Provo’s fiberoptic network, otherwise known as iProvo, seems to be coming of age, according to Mayor John Curtis.
As he looks back on the year, Curtis said he felt talking to residents about what the fiber optic network is, and is not, has been a benchmark.
“This was a significant turn for the city in my mind,” he said. “We first articulated there’s a cost to the benefit.” He also said the discussions have been very healthy, adding that he has “tremendous respect for the leadership team at Veracity.”
However there are still some tough hills to climb, particularly in filling the funding gap between what Veracity is paying and what the city owes. Finding the funding source is Curtis’ 2011 goal. The bottom line, he said, is, “Provo is a fiber optic connected city and that attracts business and home buyers. It makes Provo a more attractive place to be.”
There were many more things on the mayor’s plate than iProvo from the beginning of 2010. In fact, it wasn’t even on his priority list for his first 100-day plan.
Councilwoman Cynthia Dayton asked what Curtis intended to do if iProvo made its way back into city ownership. The fiber-optic network was sold to the private sector about a year and a half ago, and the merged Veracity Networks that owns it had just taken over the bond payments.
At that time, the mayor, with the caveat that he wanted Veracity to succeed, said he planned to have a strategy session with Energy Director Kevin Garlick, Finance Director John Borget and Chief Administrative Officer Wayne Parker to discuss a contingency plan — later know as plan B.