Earlier this month, Herriman learned – the easy way – what many cities have learned through sad experience: municipal-owned fiber is economically unfeasible. We applaud the Herriman City Council for facing up to the situation and making the prudent decision for their taxpayers and residents.

Until just a few weeks ago, Herriman City was moving forward with plans to construct a city-wide, city-owned fiber network that would be funded by an opt-out utility fee assessed on all residences and commercial properties. Initially, necessary take rates were projected at 38 to 56%. These rates were already unlikely if not unprecedented, but it was thought that the opt-out utility fee model would maximize take rates and make the project feasible. However, on November 8th, the City Council was presented with updated projections which would necessitate a take rate of between 74 and 104%. Realizing that reaching these take rates would be a practical and mathematical impossibility, the project was duly shelved.

Although we applaud Herriman City for facing the facts, halting the project, and signing a franchise agreement with a private provider, we hope that other cities can reach the same conclusions without spending thousands of dollars on consultations and studies, and hundreds of hours on discussions and research. Government should not be in the business of business. It cannot compete. Backing risky ventures with taxpayer money – whether in the form of sales tax revenues or utility fees – is irresponsible stewardship and has been shown time and time again to reap catastrophic consequences. We caution all cities considering similar projects to learn from Herriman, Provo, UTOPIA, and other municipal fiber projects throughout the state and across the nation that have ultimately been deemed economically unfeasible.