Home » Broadband Speed »CenturyLink »Comcast/Xfinity »Community Networks »Competition »Consumer News »Public Policy & Gov't »Rural Broadband »Wireless Broadband » Currently Reading:

Washington Business Community Fed Up With Comcast/CenturyLink, Expands Community Fiber/Wireless

meshThe business community of Poulsbo, Wash., a Seattle suburb of 9,000 in Kitsap County, is fed up waiting around for CenturyLink and Comcast to increase broadband speeds in the area so several have joined forces to share the city’s underused, existing fiber-optic cables to offer free Internet access for area businesses and residential users.

The Kitsap Public Utility District has launched a public-private partnership that offers free wireless mesh antennas to businesses willing to host them and pay any power costs incurred, so long as they agree to let customers and others in range of the network use it at no charge. The wireless mesh technology, more robust than traditional Wi-Fi, costs the public utility district between $7,000-$12,000 per site, but the resulting wireless coverage is cheap compared to wiring individual homes and businesses with fiber.

Local businesses, community leaders and the public consider it a win-win for everyone, especially because the existing institutional fiber network already in place is underutilized. The comparatively inexpensive wireless technology has not created any significant issues for area taxpayers or ratepayers, which effectively underwrite the antenna purchases, installation, and maintenance.

The wireless network offers speedy connections — as much as six times faster than the current broadband speeds sold by Comcast and CenturyLink in the county.

So far, four antennas have been installed downtown at local restaurants and a Lutheran church.

Poulsbo_WAStephen Perry, the PUD’s superintendent of telecommunications, says the new network is a pilot program to test if an economic model can be created to sustain the service and eventually expand it.

“The whole idea was to have it be a community network. It’s community based and owned so to have the community step up and want to take ownership of it … thought we’d have to force it on people,” Perry told the Kitsap Sun, noting district workers “can’t go fast enough” responding to fiber-optic interest.

The surprising support from the local business community has helped drive the project and publicize it. Local businesses love the new service, which they consider more reliable than paying for and maintaining a Wi-Fi network and Internet connection from Comcast or CenturyLink. The service does not require a password or complicated setup to access and has proved more reliable than older Wi-Fi solutions. Customers also enjoy the higher speeds.

Ed Stern, a member of the city council, said wireless mesh technology represents a major improvement over traditional Wi-Fi.

“It’s not a typical ‘hot spot’ limited to that business or specific location, but rather like ‘umbrella’ coverage, in that the antennas join together to create seamless coverage of everything and everybody throughout the area,” Stern said, adding network expansion is now inching into residential neighborhoods as well. “It’s really exciting.”

With countless towns and cities equipped with underutilized institutional fiber broadband networks lacking money to install direct fiber connections to homes or businesses, the wireless mesh option can offer an affordable introductory solution to expand service, publicize the community broadband initiative, and build support for even more ambitious public broadband opportunities in the future.

One local resident told the newspaper it was about time.

“The privatization business model has proven a failure,” wrote one reader. “Kitsap PUD needs to offer retail broadband to residents and businesses. These fiber cables are just sitting there doing nothing. There is one at the end of my driveway, but no one will sell me the service. Why would CenturyLink bother when they can continue to get overpaid for very slow speeds. In most places, there aren’t choices.”

Currently there are 3 comments on this Article:

  1. txpatriot says:

    Great. Hopefully this project (like google in KC) will get the attention of hte incumbent telco and cableco. I wish them luck.

  2. me says:

    A one time flat fee cost vs a recurring monthly business line service cost?! I bet they are lined up on that… At 7-12k you could ROI that in under 4 years…

Search This Site:

Contributions:

Recent Comments:

  • Josh: Wow, great article! I'm feeling nostalgic, and kind of weirded out by VHS going away, and the realization we're (once again) likely to lose a giganti...
  • Jeno: My family and I had Verizon for years, and it was just fine, no problem. It seems almost as SOON as Frontier came into the picture, our internet was ...
  • Sharon: I too have gotten taken by Verizon, and they are continually trying to add more costs to my plan; daily. This number did call today, showing as a Ver...
  • Josh: I need PBS and The CW...I can't believe those aren't on here! I'd want BBC America too. I'd really want a much longer DVR too...28 days isn't good...
  • Len: I have a 25MB/s CenturyLink connection (internet only) that costs $83 / month. I have a "discount" that brings it down to $53. These guys at Century...
  • Josh: Having to pay to get your bill is just an hilarious low :-D And I'm sorry about those people :-( Somehow I doubt they're not needed......
  • Len: 100 MB/s....... For ONLY 300 Euros a month! OK, sarcasm here, but you see what I'm getting at. MB/s is only part of it. It makes no difference...
  • Mike D.: There are giant delicious pies being feasted upon and Comcast isn't able to gorge themselves. That will end soon, and unless customers drop them like ...
  • Josh: Glad you mentioned that. Yeah, I'm nowhere near Chicago and am affected....
  • BobInIllinois: Just a note to explain what Comcast means by the "Chicago Region". It is a Comcast regional market designation for more territory than just the Chica...
  • Josh: This is just an excuse to raise bills by at least $50/month (or more, if you go over without realizing you have to *CALL* to add this $50/month fee). ...
  • 7879878: And why isnt the FCC getting Involved? The fact there is NO OPT OUT and a $35+ option to get back what you had before should be a huge red flag to an...

Your Account: