Long before the FCC recognized broadband as a public utility, citizens and communities were finding it absolutely necessary to their well-being and future success to connect their communities with broadband internet access. Broadband telecommunications, increasingly, is how people communicate, conduct business and access government services. It is, also, paramount to a community’s economic viability.
Since 2014, Jefferson PUD has owned and currently shares operations of a high-speed open-access fiber optic broadband network in Jefferson County. The network was built in large part thanks to a federal grant and, to a lesser extent, our own operational needs as an electric utility. Almost all of the county’s schools, libraries, government offices, first responder buildings and major medical facilities have been connected to this broadband network via fiber optic lines and wireless devices. This has allowed these agencies to keep pace with the modern world; hospitals transmit data and imagery, schools stream content and instruction, first responders coordinate emergency response plans.
This is a community-owned network and due to citizens’ requests we are evaluating expanding this high-speed open-access broadband network to residences in Jefferson County. However, under Washington State law, PUD’s are only authorized to sell wholesale telecommunications services to re-sellers such as ISPs, cable companies and telephone companies and not “end users”. The PUDs can help build infrastructure to residential customers where ISPs can provide and bill you for broadband services. Jefferson PUD cannot be your internet service provider (ISP).
PUD BROADBAND FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
Jefferson PUD and NoaNet
Jefferson PUD is a member of Northwest Open Access Network or NoaNet, a non-profit corporation consisting of a consortium of public utility districts that sell wholesale telecommunications services. In the summer of 2013, a new broadband network was completed in East Jefferson County with America Recovery Act grant funding with the intention of providing faster, more affordable broadband technology to community anchor institutions such as government, education, medical and public safety services. The network will be owned by the PUD, but operated and maintained by NoaNet.
While the grant was intended to serve community-based services, other businesses and organizations will be able to connect and receive service through internet service providers (ISP) utilizing the new network. Neither NoaNet, nor the PUD however can provide service to an end user such as an at-home customer so you will need to contact an ISP and ask them what enhanced services they can provide you.