Fiber Optic faqs

When Will The PUD Build Broadband In My Area?

The PUD will work to secure the necessary funding from state and federal agencies that allow us to deploy broadband infrastructure throughout the PUD service territory. As the PUD secures funds, it will begin building the infrastructure in the areas for which the funds have been granted. For some communities, this may take a few years. For other communities, this may take several years. The PUD is actively exploring ways in which it can deploy the necessary infrastructure as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.

Once The PUD Has Broadband In My Area, How Will I Access It?

Although the 2020 Washington State Legislature provided public utility districts (like Lewis County PUD) and port districts the ability to provide broadband services directly to residential and commercial customers, Lewis County PUD’s current plans call for a public-private partnership with internet service providers (ISPs).

The PUD’s plan utilizes a model that has proven to be successful in other areas around the state and country: The PUD would build the fiber-to-the-premises (aka “fiber-to-the-home”) infrastructure as a publicly-owned open access network, which means that the infrastructure would be available for private internet service providers to connect end-users. By leveraging the expertise of private providers to directly serve customer broadband needs in an open access model so that multiple providers have the opportunity to serve an area, the PUD believes that this creates healthy competition. And with competition comes customer options, typically lower prices, and better customer service by ISPs.

As infrastructure is built in your area, you will receive communications from both the PUD and ISPs on how to sign-up for service.

What Is Broadband?

The term “broadband” can be used in a variety of ways and most often represents a communication line or medium that has greater bandwidth than a typical data or phone line. Coaxial cable used with a television is an example of a copper broadband medium. Lewis County PUD uses fiber as a broadband medium to transport information from one point to another in the form of light (fiber optics). Fiber is the fastest, most reliable broadband medium available. Did you know that the entire contents of the Library of Congress can be transmitted over one fiber across the country in 4 seconds?

Light is easily transmitted through fibers or thin rods of glass. The use of fiber in telecommunications is growing because it is durable, reliable, and provides more bandwidth (information-carrying capacity) than traditional metallic-based cable. The use of fiber optics in telecommunications ranges from global networks to local telephone exchanges to internet subscribers’ homes. All involve the transmission of voice, data, or video over distances from less than a mile to hundreds of miles.

Fiber Optic Cable.
What Does Fiber Provide The Community And Who Benefits?

Reliable high-speed digital infrastructure is often one component in economic growth and diversification within a community. It draws and sustains college students, clean & high-tech business, medical providers, and others who want to live rural yet still be connected to the world. Businesses can use broadband to expand their customer base, and save money through smart technology and energy management.

Everyone benefits from fiber. Large businesses need high-speed, point-to-point network connections for daily commercial traffic (payroll, bills of lading, purchase orders, automated library systems, medical information) and internet access. Fiber optics advance health care providers’ ability to share diagnostic and non-diagnostic images and confidential information with other physicians across the town, state, and nation. For instance, hospitals need fast, reliable, secure digital network connectivity to other medical providers. This allows the secure confidential transmission of large amounts of information such as x-rays, MRI, CT scans, medical and insurance records, which translates to better health care services for patients. Schools need interconnection to provide educational tools, research sharing, and distance learning opportunities. Agri-businesses can use broadband to monitor field conditions, water and electric usage and access market information. Increasingly, students need access to high-speed Internet to study from home, and adults need to have the flexibility to work remotely from their office.

Do Electric Rates Go Up Because Of Broadband?

No. The PUD’s cost-based electric rates are derived primarily from the cost of wholesale power, operation and maintenance of the electrical system.

The PUD’s telecommunications and electric services operate on a not-for-profit basis. The PUD is customer-owned, which means there are no shareholders for whom profits must be generated. The revenue the PUD receives from its customers is used to operate and maintain the infrastructure that provides service.

What Does The PUD’s Existing Broadband Network Look Like?

Lewis County PUD’s existing fiber optic network is a wholesale asset, which performs two functions: supports the operation of the PUD’s electric distribution services and lease out excess fiber capacity to other governmental entities, businesses, and telecommunication businesses who, in turn, use it for their own needs. Some utilize our infrastructure to sell internet, phone, and television services to residents and businesses.

While the PUD’s broadband serves a portion of our service area, many areas lack access to broadband. The map below shows Lewis County PUD’s current broadband network.

Open Map Full Resolution (PDF)