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Connext, All West expanding, bolstering Northern Utah internet options

By Tim Vandenack - | Mar 1, 2023
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Victor Sanchez, left, and Juan Michel Deniz work on a Connext crew installing fiber in South Weber on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023.
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Lorenzo Enriquez Davila of Connext works with a crew installing fiber in South Weber on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023.
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North Ogden and All West Communications reps break ground on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, on a new fiber network to be built in the city to bolster internet offerings. North Ogden Mayor S. Neal Berube is third from the right.
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Fruit Heights and Connext reps break ground during a snow storm on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, on a new fiber network to be built in the city to bolster internet offerings. Fruit Heights Mayor John Pohlman is fifth from the right.

NORTH OGDEN -- There's a whole lot of fiber coming to Weber and Davis counties, boding for more broadband options for internet users.

All West Communications has broken ground on a planned $16 million new network serving North Ogden. It'll pass by more than 7,750 homes and businesses in the city, with the first live connection expected by August and the network completed within three years.

"Their plans are to be able to serve every single home in the city. If they want the service, they'll be able to connect," said North Ogden City Attorney Jon Call. No city funds will be spent, he said; it's "entirely private industry."

At the same time, Ogden-based Connext is expanding throughout Davis and Weber counties. The firm most recently broke ground last week on a new network in Fruit Heights, which will tie in to a Connext network taking shape in Kaysville.

"They're very excited to have better internet options," said Connext spokesperson Brian Papworth, alluding to interest in Fruit Heights. "Really, the level of interest in the city is very, very strong."

Papworth said Connext is also in the midst of expanding fiber in Roy, Riverdale, Farr West and Plain City in Weber County and Kaysville, Clinton and South Weber in Davis County. Additional network expansion plans are afoot in Ogden, Hooper, Riverdale and Washington Terrace.

Connext's fiber network passes around 20,000 homes thus far, with investment plans totaling in the "tens of millions of dollars," Papworth said. Its plans entail installing enough fiber to serve the entirety of the cities where it operates. "It's a monstrous project. It's really all of Northern Utah," Papworth said.

Growth is so quick that Connext Chief Executive Officer David Brown said the firm plans to double the number of new homes its network passes each month from 1,500 to more than 3,000 as work this year steps up. "The support we have received as a local company is huge. We are actively building in seven cities right now and have franchise agreements with many more," Brown said in a statement.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, interest has boomed among Northern Utah locales in bolstering high-speed internet offerings beyond incumbents like Comcast and Century Link. Some residents have clamored for new options, officials say, while the work-from-home movement has necessitated more robust home internet connections.

Papworth said the aging state of the existing infrastructure also figures in the expansion. "The need for data has outpaced what the infrastructure can provide," he said.

UTOPIA Fiber has also expanded around Utah and will be building a $17.6 million high-speed broadband network in West Haven, the publicly owned firm's first foray into Weber County.

Unlike private-sector operators like All West and Connext, UTOPIA is owned by the communities with networks and private telecom firms that actually provide internet tap into its fiber to provide service to the public. The standard operating procedure calls for bonding to cover network construction costs, backed by the particular city where the system is going in.

UTOPIA officials approached North Ogden reps about building a system in the city, but Call said the North Ogden City Council wasn't interested because it didn't want the risk of having to back the bonds. UTOPIA reps say subscriber interest has been strong enough in recent years that client cities have not been called on to help with bond repayment.

While the first All West connection in North Ogden is expected in August, Call said the entire 113-mile system in the city will take two to three years to build. City leaders and All West reps held a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony on Monday and work will be quickly proceeding.

"Having high-speed internet available at each home and business will improve the quality of life for residents and benefit businesses," North Ogden Mayor S. Neal Berube said in a statement.


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