Frequently Asked Questions About PUD Broadband
Q. What is broadband?
Broadband is the ability to transport multiple signals, frequencies and traffic type simultaneously. Think television signals, phone services, email and Internet all in the same line. Typically, it is measured in bits per second and is bi‐directional (the ability to receive and send information). Currently, the federal government considers broadband to now be 25 megabits per second download/3 megabits per second upload. Many Jefferson County residents now cannot get more than 1 Mbs download consistently, which severely limits video and telecommunications.
Q. What is Fiber to the Home (FTTH)?
A. Broadband access can be provided to residents over a variety of infrastructures. When the infrastructure used is fiber optic cable it is called Fiber to the home (FTTH). In this delivery model, Jefferson PUD extends its broadband network all the way to the home. Fiber to the home is the fastest growing method of providing vastly higher bandwidth to consumers and businesses, and thereby enabling more robust video, Internet and voice services.
Q. What is Wireless Broadband?
A. Our network is based on Fiber Optic technology, but that is a fairly expensive technology to deploy. For some locations, further away from our fiber backbone, wireless connections might be the only viable option, at least initially. Wireless broadband relies on antennas sending and receiving data through the air. It’s challenging to deliver the same speeds as a direct fiber connection, but the technology is developing fast and already today broadband speeds can be delivered.
Q. Why is JPUD evaluating broadband network expansion?
Even though the PUDs cannot provide retail telecommunications services to the home, residents of Jefferson County have requested JPUD to expand the high‐speed open access network to their neighborhoods. JPUD is using the COS Service Zones system to identify the level of interest and need for broadband access from a community owned network. The PUD will share its results with all parties including the general public and any company currently or willing to provide broadband services to Jefferson County residents.
Q. What is an Open Access Network?
A. Open Access is the term used to describe a network where any Internet Service Provider (ISP) may provide service to the end‐user over that network. JPUD supports the open access model because it 1) eliminates the costs of duplicative infrastructure and 2) allows the customer to have a choice of ISPs. Competition among ISPs has been shown to improve quality of services and control costs for the end user.
Q. Will Fiber to the Home affect my Home Value?
A. Yes. A 2009 RVA, LLC Home Owner and Developer survey and research commissioned by the Fiber to the Home Council shows homes increased in value by as much as $5000, and not having high speed broadband significantly reduces the desirability of a property on the market.
Q. Is there an obligation to purchase service if I express interest through the survey?
A. No. The survey is for informational use only to identify areas that are interested in FTTH in the county and prioritize building into those areas. Conversely, this is only a survey. If the survey results in enough respondents sufficient to make a network build economically viable, the PUD will make the final decision.
Q. How is the Fiber to the Home network funded?
A. JPUD may use a model currently being used by Kitsap PUD (KPUD), which uses a combination of grant money, taxes and individual property assessments repayable over an extended period of time.
Q. Why doesn’t Jefferson PUD provide retail telecommunications to county residents?
A. A 1990’s state law restricts PUDs from selling full retail telecommunications services to county citizens, agencies and businesses. Although new laws, intervening court rulings and generations of soft and hardware advancement have eclipsed Washington’s last century law, Washington PUDs are only allowed to provide non‐retail services, including wholesale networks, community networks, and certain other telecommunications services. Please let us know in the survey if you would like to see Jefferson PUD providing retail service.
Q. What exactly is Optical Fiber?
A. Optical fiber is a hair‐thin strand of glass, specially designed to trap and transmit light pulses. The fiber uses light instead of electricity to carry a signal. Fiber optic cable can carry high bandwidth signals over long distances without signal loss, and it can provide those signals simultaneously in both directions –upload and download. Copper media can also carry high bandwidth, but only for a few hundred yards –after which the signal begins to degrade and bandwidth narrows. Optical fiber has been used in communications networks for more than 35 years, mostly to carry a multitude of signals from city to city or country to country.
Q. Why is fiber optic cable now being connected directly to homes?
A. Connecting homes directly to fiber optic cable enables enormous improvements in the bandwidth that can be provided to consumers, both now and for many more decades to come. Current fiber optic technology can provide two‐way transmission speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second (1 Gigabit per second = 1,000 Megabits per second), with 10 ‐ 100 Gbps systems now on the market and even higher bandwidth fiber networks being developed. Further, while cable and DSL providers are struggling to squeeze small increments of higher bandwidth out of their technologies, ongoing improvements in fiber optic equipment are constantly increasing available bandwidth without having to change the fiber. That’s why fiber networks are said to be “future proof.”
Q. How many homes are connected to FTTH networks?
A. Fiber to the home networks are now available to nearly one‐fifth of North American households, with more than seven million of them connected and receiving Internet, voice and/or television service via FTTH.
Q. Are fiber to the home services more expensive than those that are available over cable modem and DSL?
A. Surveys have shown that FTTH subscribers pay approximately the same for their Internet, voice and video services as do customers of DSL and cable providers, and that FTTH subscribers actually pay less per megabit of bandwidth that they receive. In addition, surveys of broadband consumers conducted by Consumer Reports magazine and by the FTTH Council have shown that subscribers of FTTH services report considerably higher satisfaction rates than subscribers of other broadband services.