PUD Broadband Updates
The PUD was recently awarded $1.8 million in loan opportunities from the WA State Public Works Board to build fiber to Port Townsend Area businesses. The funding will allow the PUD to offer 1Gbps download and upload speeds to all businesses in the project area. The PUD plans to expand existing infrastructure to unserved businesses with the project will be completed by 2024.
PUD Broadband and Comms director Will O’Donnell discussed the award with PUD commissioners at their regular meeting on July 19th. O’Donnell and District 2 Commissioner Ken Collins also discussed the PUD’s broadband plans with Phil Andrus, host of Attention Please! on KPTZ
The conversation aired July 18, 2022. Listen here.
The trio discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic led to changes in state policy that allow the PUD to sell internet directly to its customers in the same way that it sells power and water.
The pandemic brought to light the disparities between available broadband in urban areas versus what is available in rural areas, Collins said.
“We’re really taking a leap forward, which I think reflects very well on our PUD, in our efforts to meet what clearly is a critical need within the community,” Collins said.
Fiber rollout for rural customers is being made possible by grants, of which the PUD has secured more than $23 million in funding. Grant applications soon to be submitted could add an additional $13.2 million in funding for fiber buildout.
Physical buildout of the fiber network is slated to begin in 2023 and will rely heavily on local contractors. Modern fiber networks incorporate a mix of both overhead and underground lines.
The PUD network team will oversee the build out details and manage the technical elements after construction is complete, including customer service.
“The great part about these grants is that everyone who gets a fiber connection is 100% covered by the grant,” O’Donnell said. Customers only need to cover the monthly connection fee, just like any traditional internet service.
“We get to be able to build a network that is built for the future,” O’Donnell said. “I don’t think people can really comprehend how good of service they will be able to get because they have never seen it.”