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UTOPIA stuck in debt, technology marches on

Published December 2, 2012 1:02 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In 2002, a group of Utah cities formed the Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA) to create a high-speed broadband Internet network in their cities.

Back then, it may have seemed visionary to build a fiber-optic network that would be much faster than conventional dial-up services such as America Online or cable Internet services such as Xfinity.

But 10 years later, UTOPIA is mired in debt and is only 40 percent complete. Meanwhile, technology marches on. Here are some of the technological milestones achieved in the past 10 years:

Broadband • In 2002, dial-up Internet was out, and high-speed broadband over cable or DSL (telephone lines) was in. By 2010, 66 percent of homes had access to broadband Internet connections.

Mobile wireless • While wired broadband was becoming popular at home, the ability for smart phones to connect to the Internet became ubiquitous. First there was slower networks such as EDGE and 3G. Now 4G has become the standard for mobile connectivity.

Digital TV • Analog television was replaced by digital TVs, and all broadcasters switched to digital signals in 2009. Meanwhile, high definition TV became the norm in living rooms.

Apple iPod • The portable MP3 music player that revolutionized the music industry was only a year old when UTOPIA began. Since then, 10 generations of the iPod (including the iPod Touch) have been introduced. Apple also ignited the computer-tablet market in 2010. The iPad has become the hottest consumer electronics device.

Smart phones • Touchscreen smart phones, beginning with the iPhone in 2007, began to overtake the mobile market in sales. Today, more than 46 percent of Americans use full-feature smart phones.