PROVO — Provo's phone, cable and Internet delivery system is similar to UTOPIA — but Qwest didn't name it in a federal lawsuit it filed Wednesday against the multi-city telecommunications network.

It could just be that iProvo is a smaller fish Qwest isn't angling for — yet.

"It's a different concept," Qwest spokesman Vince Hancock said of iProvo. "How different, I'm not sure."

Provo's chief administrative officer Wayne Parker is grateful iProvo wasn't named in the suit. He couldn't put his finger on the distinction, however.

"I don't know how UTOPIA would be much different," he said.

That may be why Hancock also said Qwest is keeping iProvo on its "radar screen."

"We're paying attention to iProvo, but we're not doing anything with it now," he said.

Provo officials will keep an eye on Qwest, too.

"I'll be interested to see the suit and what they're arguing," Parker said.

The iProvo system was launched five months ago with a single provider, HomeNet. The company provides "triple-play" services — digital cable, telephone and broadband Internet access — for one monthly payment to about a quarter of the city.

UTOPIA provides the same services with a different provider.

Provo will roll out the service to the rest of the city within 19 months, Parker said.

It also will add additional service providers, including up to three by the end of the summer.

"Our system, like UTOPIA, will eventually be open-access," he said. "Any provider who can provide across our network and meets certain financial requirements will be allowed to offer services through iProvo."

HomeNet had exclusive rights for the first six months of service in the city, but three other companies have submitted proposals for access to the network.

Parker didn't believe Qwest could make an argument that iProvo, as a government-backed entity, would have an unfair advantage.

"We are charging a franchise fee equivalent with Qwest," he said. "We're very conscious of the fact we need to play on a level field with private providers."


E-mail: twalch@desnews.com