February Fiber Update
Hello Fiber Folks,
Thanks again for signing up to have PUD fiber installed to your home or business. Sorry that it's taken a while to send an update. While there have been many noteworthy developments to talk about, a solid answer to the main question most of you have has remained elusive.
THE MAIN QUESTION
That question, of course, is when will you get fiber? Right now, we are estimating home (or business) fiber installations will begin in and around Quilcene and Discovery Bay later this summer. It will take over 1 year to connect everyone in the project area. We are not far enough along in planning to say when during that year a specific neighborhood might get connected. We hope to have some of that info in the next few months. In the next few months, we also expect to have better info on when construction will begin in our other funded project areas.
Why is it taking so long to get a construction plan together? Good question! Delays in construction and planning have been a result of delays in the release of grant funding by the state and federal government. We couldn't begin any work, especially engineering and construction, until we had signed contracts to access funds. And those contracts didn't come until the end of 2022. When we first applied for the Quilcene to Gardiner grant way back in August of 2021, the grant rules said all construction had to be completed by the end of 2022. That timeline has now been extended twice, obviously. It's been a lot of hurry up and wait.
Long story short: fiber is coming, some of you will be connected in 2023, most connections will take place in 2024, more specific timeline info to come.
ABOUT YOUR FIBER REGISTRATION
When you sign up for PUD fiber to the home in an eligible project area, your name is put on a list to receive the service. In our grant-funded areas, there is no charge for the installation IF you are among the first ~60% of service addresses to register. Sign-ups after the ~60% threshold is met will have to pay a portion of the connection fee.
Currently, the Olympic Fiber Corridor and Jefferson North project areas are right around 45% registered. We expect both to exceed 60% by this summer. If you’ve already signed-up you are golden. But if your neighbors have not, encourage them to sign up ASAP. Customers who sign up after the threshold has been met will have to pay part of the construction cost. How much? The PUD commissioners will begin looking at options at their special meeting on March 14th. This construction charge will also likely apply to designated adjacent areas.
Our Discovery Bay East project area has 78% of service addresses signed up. Because it’s a small project area, the threshold was 70% rather than 60%, but either way we've exceeded the limit. We'll be in touch with folks who signed up after the threshold was met once the Commission settles on a plan for construction charges. Sign-ups are first come first serve and we can sort the list by date and time of registration to determine who signed up before and after the threshold was met.
Because our Port Townsend Business District Project area is funded by a loan instead of a grant, all registrants have to pay $1200 to connect to fiber and there is no threshold for sign-ups. Registration is only available to business customers (home businesses are included as long as you have a UBI#).
RECENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I want fiber to my shop/studio/ADU. Can you hook that up too?
We can, but we'll have to charge you for an additional service, and it won't be covered by the grant funds. If you want to have your outbuilding on the same service, you will need to hire a contractor to do the wired installation or utilize our mesh routers to bounce the signal from place to place.
We're doing some construction on site. Can I install my own fiber now and just have you connect to it?
We don't recommend it. But if your construction involves a trench from the street to your home, we highly recommend installing conduit now for fiber installation later. Contact our engineering team for more info and a possible onsite consultation.
Can I use my own wifi router?
You can, but we don’t recommend it. If you sign up for internet service from the PUD, we’re going to give you, at no extra cost, a state-of-the-art wifi router that’s optimized to give the best service over our network. Optional additional mesh routers will be available to wirelessly extend the service across a large home, outside, or over to a nearby outbuilding (rental charges may apply). Our routers allow us to monitor and maintain the health of the network and ensure you have a high-quality connection. We will service and replace them in the event of a failure. But, if you want to plug in your own preferred router into the ethernet port on the back of our router, you are free to do so. (Also: on the PUD's open access network you have the option of choosing internet service from another provider besides the PUD who may have different router options)
My neighbors and I need internet ASAP. Can we share the cost of constructing fiber to our area now instead of waiting another year for the grant to pay for it?
Unfortunately no, or not yet. In order to deliver the very high quality, very high-speed service we plan to provide, we have to first construct a brand-new core network. The core network includes all of the electronics to power the fiber and provide service to the home. Work on the core network is in the very early stages and will not be complete until June or July. Without the core network ready, we can't add any customers, and because of that, we cannot rush any construction.
Thanks again and keep your questions coming our way. Also consider posting your questions on our public message board so everyone can see the answers. More info to come. I'll try to write again soon.
-Will O'Donnell, PUD Broadband and Communications Director