If you read my previous post, you can probably guess that I'm in favor of UTOPIA. Well, today the Associated Press is highlighting another reason that UTOPIA can't come to Woods Cross fast enough. The article, found here, talks about how Comcast blocks certain types of traffic like BitTorrent uploads. Now the average user may look at this and say, "Well the majority of that traffic today is used for pirated music and movies." That would be akin to saying in the early days of the World Wide Web, "The majority of that is used for pornography, so we shouldn't use it at all."
Is that an extreme view? Maybe. In the early days of the World Wide Web, the majority was used for porn, however, now we know all the good things that it is also used for. So what good things is BitTorrent used for? Many companies distribute their software, legally, through this method. I'm a Linux Systems Administrator for my profession. One of the major distributions of Linux, Ubuntu, distributes their operating system, legally, through this method. Ubuntu just released an upgrade to their operating system yesterday, however, I can't get it through BitTorrent because of the actions of Comcast.
One argument that I've heard for the need to wait to do a feasibility study is that the $15,000 was not put in this year's budget. Many times while I was on the City Council, we would approve spending $15,000 that was not included in the budget. That's why state law allows a City Council to amend the budget during the year. One such authorization was towards the end of 2004 to replace a vehicle for Gary Uresk, the City Administrator. The City Council approved this expenditure unanimously, even though there was nothing wrong with the vehicle in use, other than it had been repaired from damage sustained in a traffic accident. I don't recall whether the expenditure was made or not, but I know it was approved.
Why must we act now? One reason is that the state has had a moratorium on cities joining UTOPIA for the past four years. That moratorium recently expired, however, it is quite likely that the moratorium will be re-visited and may be re-instituted in the State Legislative session in January. Why was the moratorium put in place? My belief is that it was instituted due to heavy lobbying by Qwest and Comcast.