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Ogden-based Connext aims to extend fiber optic network to 150,000 homes | News, Sports, Jobs





Tim Vandenack, Standard Examiner

Guillermo Alvarenga, left, and Armando Hernandez work on a machine that drills horizontal conduits, where the new Connext fiber will eventually be placed. They were attending the installation of a new fiber network in Clinton on Friday, February 11, 2022.

CLINTON— Connect completed construction of the first phase of the new fiber network it is installing in Clinton, intended to increase high-speed Internet options in the city.

But that’s just the latest addition to the region’s fiber system in Weber and Davis counties — the Ogden-based company has plenty more planned in the two-county area.

Connext builds networks in Farr West, Roy and plain city, among other cities, and some of the initial sections of fiber in each locality have been completed and put into service. Company officials and Kaysville leaders held a groundbreaking ceremony last month to kick off the installation of a new fiber system there. Meanwhile, talks are underway with officials in several other towns, including Ogden, to bring more fiber to those localities.

“Now we’ve surpassed just over 5,000 homes in a fairly short period of time,” Connext chief executive David Brown said Friday at a ceremony to turn on the new fiber segment in Clinton, which will serves approximately 2,000 households. “We aim to reach 150,000 homes in five years. It’s a big acceleration, but we’re on time. »

Many towns in Weber and Davis counties have increasingly debated how to increase internet offerings in their localities, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, incumbents like Comcast and CenturyLink are not available in all corners of all localities, which has led to some discussion.

Tim Vandenack, Standard Examiner

Connext and Clinton officials applaud after cutting a ceremonial ribbon Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, marking the launch of the first new fiber section Connext is installing in the city.

“I think that’s huge,” Clinton Mayor Brandon Stanger said, alluding to the extra fiber in the city thanks to Connext. “There is a big push, especially with the need to work from home with COVID.”

In addition to Clinton, Kaysville and Plain City, Brown said Connext has franchise agreements to build networks in Fruit Heights, South Weber and Willard, the town in Box Elder County. Talks are underway about creating networks in about 15 other communities, including Ogden.

“We’re mostly focused on Weber and Davis counties,” Brown said, although the company is also considering opportunities in Box Elder and Cache counties.

UTOPIA fiber, a community-owned entity that operates fiber systems in many cities in Utah, has courted leaders in many cities in Weber and Davis counties, and is also building new networks in the region. Last December, UTOPIA and Syracuse leaders inaugurated a new $23.5 million broadband network for the city. UTOPIA also operates fiber systems in Clearfield, Layton, West Point and Morgan, among many other cities.

UTOPIA and Connext, however, have very different operating models.

Tim Vandenack, Standard Examiner

David Brown, managing director of Ogden-based Connext, pictured in Clinton on Friday February 11, 2022. Connext is installing a fiber system in Cinton.

UTOPIA usually partners with cities, calling on its sister agency, UIA, to tie up to cover the costs of building the network. Partner cities will support the bonds, if needed, but subscriber revenues are leveraged to cover the actual costs of the bonds, which has ruled out the need for out-of-pocket costs from the cities.

As a private company, Connext, on the other hand, bears the costs of building the networks, exposing cities to no risk. “That’s huge for cities that are bond averse or risk averse,” Brown said.

UTOPIA and Connext typically engage in outreach in localities where they are considering network expansion to ensure there is a strong base of potential subscribers to make installing new fiber worth the cost and effort.

One difference though – a customer’s monthly bill for service through a UTOPIA network typically includes a $30 fee to help cover the bond payments required to build the system. That’s a typical monthly bill of around $60 to $65 for basic service.

Connext doesn’t charge the $30 fee, and monthly costs for its residential plan range from $35 to $65 per month, depending on speed.

Tim Vandenack, Standard Examiner

Guillermo Alvarenga, left, and Armando Hernandez work on a machine that drills horizontal conduits, where the new Connext fiber will eventually be placed. They were attending the installation of a new fiber network in Clinton on Friday, February 11, 2022.

Work on the new Connext network in Clinton, which will eventually serve about 7,000 homes, began last October. It was originally slated for completion in October 2023, but Brown believes work will be completed sooner.

Connext’s introduction to Clinton gives city residents more internet options, “which is good so there’s no monopoly,” said Stanger, the mayor. “I think more importantly, it will give residents more options and higher speeds at a lower cost.”

Clinton City Manager Dennis Cluff said Clinton’s failure to support the funding used to build the Connext network figured prominently in the Clinton City Council’s decision to grant the company a franchise agreement to operate.

Connext will provide service through the new network in Clinton, as with fiber it has placed elsewhere. Brown said two other internet service providers could also operate the network.

David Brown, managing director of Ogden-based Connext, pictured in Clinton on Friday February 11, 2022. Connext is installing a fiber system in Cinton.

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