2012-January through June

North Central Washington’s PUDs balk at backing NoaNet expansion (Wenatchee World) June 30, 2012

Faced with the prospect of backing millions of dollars in new loans, most of the region’s PUDs are rethinking the risk of keeping their financial muscle behind a fiber-networking nonprofit that they helped create more than a decade ago.

The lates news and information on NoaNet’s open access broadband experience-Connect Washington (Washington Broadband) June 2012

The latest news on Northwest Open Access Network’s (NoaNet) implementation of two federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act grants to bring high-speed Internet access to hundreds of communities across Washington state.

Grant PUD considers withdrawing from NoaNet (Fair Competition Alliance-Broadband Blog) 06-27-2012

Grant PUD commissioners Tuesday discussed a recommendation from Communications Network Manager Warren Miller to consider withdrawing from NoaNet. In his recommendation memo Miller warned: A retail telecommunications business model for NoaNet creates little value but great risk for Grant County … Continue reading →…»

Grant PUD moves to withdraw from NoaNet (Grant PUD) June 25, 2012

Motion to remove Motion 3070 from the table.

Motion authorizing the Manager, on behalf of the District, to send a written notice to the Chief Executive Officer of NoaNet Corporation that Grant County PUD is withdrawing its membership.  This is pursuant to Article II, Section 19 of the Northwest Open Access Network and Interlocal Cooperation Agreement dated January 2000.  The effective date of withdrawal is 60 days from June 11, 2012.

Is the board violating OPALCO’s articles of incorporation (San Juan Islander) June 25, 2012

Regardless of whether it winds up being a great idea for OPALCO to expand into telecommunications by building a wireless infrastructure to support cellular and broadband Internet in our county I believe that doing so is in direct violation of our utility’s explicit articles of incorporation and purposes for existing.

Top Grant PUD manager placed on leave pending investigation (Wenatchee World) June 20, 2012

Grant County PUD General Manager Tim Culbertson has been placed on a two-week, paid administrative leave pending an investigation into personnel-related matters.

Judge to rule in Chelan PUD manager lawsuit (Wenatchee World) June 20, 2012

Lawyers had what could be their final say today in a federal law suit to determine if the Chelan County PUD wrongfully terminated two former high-level managers over squishy cost estimates for fiber-optics.

Got Net? Working toward a thoroughly wire Washington (House Democratic Caucus) June 18, 2012

Led by state Rep. John McCoy, legislative Democrats are continuing the demanding, extremely needed work of investigating and promoting broadband availability.

Washington state’s rural information ghettos (Guest Opinion: Seattle Times) June 18, 2012

In huge sections of Washington, citizens have little or no access to news about what is taking place in their own communities. The situation is particularly grim in areas populated by minorities and on some of the vast Native American reservations.

Wholesale rate, fee increase approved for PUD fiber resellers (Wenatchee World) June 15, 2012

Chelan County PUD commissioners Wednesday approved rate and fee increases to the private companies who sell Internet, telephone and cable TV service over the PUD’s fiber-optic network.

Lyman set to speed down information superhighway (GoSkagit.com) June 14, 2012

Several east county communities are gearing up for a project they hope will provide faster Internet service and possibly more business and education opportunities. Skagit Public Utility District has plans to bring high-speed fiber-optic lines to Lyman beginning sometime this month, and more residents and businesses there starting in the fall.

Credibility on the line in fired PUD managers’ lawsuit (Wenatchee World) June 14, 2012

Chelan County PUD commissioners spent much of August 2010 gearing up for a critical vote on whether to accept a federal grant and expand a decade-old fiber-optic network that had missed multiple completion targets and wasn’t paying its bills.

PUD considers reducing staff, raising rates (KZAL News) June 8, 2012

Chelan County PUD is proposing laying off four of the 11 full time fiber network staff and increasing wholesale rates to establish a fiber optics program that pays for itself.

PUD fiber jobs on the line (KPQ-AM) June 5, 2012

Several Chelan County PUD Fiberoptic system employees are wondering whether they’ll hold on to their job after Monday’s presentation of the District’s strategic plan which proposes to layoff four workers.

Reinventing” Port Townsend public schools (Port Townsend Leader) June 8, 2012

The new leaders of Port Townsend’s public schools have been chosen and are looking to improve the district…

…Engle said he was invited by Port Townsend Mayor David King to participate in the broadband commission. The city, county and other agencies have been working with fiber-optic cable provider NoaNet to bring broadband speeds to Jefferson County. Engle said he’s excited to join the discussion.

Click ads at odds with residents’ anti-billboard fervor (Editorial: The News Tribune)

For many Tacomans, big billboards are anathema, a blight on the city. At packed meetings, residents pleaded with city officials to continue fighting the major billboard company, Clear Channel Outdoor, which wants to replace its static signs with digital ones that change the message on a regular basis.

Click paid to put up disputed billboards (The News Tribune) May 29, 2012

Tacoma’s City Council approved a law last year outlawing most billboards within the city limits, but that hasn’t stopped Tacoma Public Utilities from advertising on the restricted signs while Tacoma takes a timeout from enforcing its ordinance.

Peninsula being woven with broadband fiber lines to speed Internet in far reaches (Peninsula Daily News) May 23, 2012

Projects that will give Clallam and Jefferson counties a foothold in the future of high-speed Internet connectivity are expected to go online this summer, and no later than August 2013.

PUD writes off fiber debt (Wenatchee World ) May 23, 2012

Chelan County PUD commissioners Monday unanimously agreed to wipe $99 million in fiber-optics network debt off the books and approve policies that require the revenue-challenged network to at least break even.

Efficiency, incentives would boost fiber sales (Wenatchee World) May 23, 2012

How to make fiber optics pay for itself? Dimitri Mandelis, president of the region’s largest Internet service provider, LocalTel Communications, says the PUD could make it easier for his sales staff to sign up new customers by:

Broadband initiative receives mixed reactions (Islands’ Sounder) May 21, 2012

The Orcas senior center was overflowing with islanders – some were men, others were women, several spoke out numerous times, while the rest quietly listened. What they had in common was their support for Orcas Power and Light Cooperative’s Broadband Initiative, which they showed by raising their hands.

Tribal Business: Broadband project plugs Washington tribes into the digital economy (Puget Sound Business Journal) May 17, 2012

Earlier this year, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe    on the North Olympic Peninsula got access to high speed broadband internet at its library and medical clinic. The Makah Tribe in Neah Bay is next in line to get service…

…NoaNet, a nonprofit organization owned by 12 public utility districts and network service providers, is using the grant money to connect rural areas to an existing broadband network that runs through the state.

Seattle pulls plug on its broadband network (Seattle Times) May 7, 2012

Providing fast Internet access is seen as key to improving quality of life, attracting entrepreneurs and nourishing business. Yet few cities have gotten it done, challenging the telecom industry.

Ratepayers will carry the load (FCA Op-Ed to Wenatchee World) April 28, 2012

Chelan County PUD commissioners voted April 16 to approve a $99 million write-off of internal loans, essentially giving electric ratepayer funds to fiber users and doubling down on an ill-conceived venture that threatens the future of the county’s broadband communications.

Broadband upgrade planned for Lower Valley communities (Daily Sun News) April 25, 2012

Several governmental agencies around the [Yakima] Lower Valley will benefit from improved broadband service.

High-speed broadband expansion connects Jamestown S’Klallam (Indian Country Today Media Network) April 23, 2012

The Jamestown S’Klallam community of Blyn has been connected to high-speed Internet, the first leg of a major expansion of broadband service under way on the Olympic Peninsula.

PUD commissioners unanimously approve fiber plan (Wenatchee World) April 16, 2012

Chelan County PUD commissioners ushered in a new era for the utilty’s under-performing fiber-optics network Monday by unanimously approving a plan that forgives existing debt but halts further expansion until the network’s own revenues can cover it.

Odessa receives high-speed Internet in vast broadband expansion effort (Northwest Open Access Network) April 11, 2012

The first leg of a major expansion of broadband underway throughout Eastern Washington has been completed, connecting the Odessa area to high-speed Internet service.

Chelan PUD believes fiber would keep network operating, protect electric rates (NCWTV) April 10, 2012

After months of feedback from customers and extensive analysis around potential alternatives, costs and benefits, General Manager John Janney recommended Monday night that Chelan County PUD continue operating its fiber-optic network and take steps to put it on more stable financial footing before considering any further expansion to unserved areas. The network now offers access to about 70 percent of the county.

NoaNet has been working with Team Jefferson (NoaNet Facebook Page) April 4, 2012

NoaNet has been working with Economic Development Council Team Jefferson to expand broadband access in Jefferson County on the Olympic Peninsula. Now you can help!

A lot of fiber (Letter to the Editor, Wenatchee World) March 31, 2012

Chelan County PUD made a focus group presentation recently in Leavenworth. It was concise, factual and well done.

The customers at the meeting who don’t have fiber connections called themselves 30 percenters and felt they deserve a buildout even if other ratepayers have to subsidize them. The PUD has spent $120 million to date, still owes $95 million and is losing $8 million per year, yet with all the marketing they’ve done they only have 38 percent of subscriptions. To satisfy the customers in the 30 percent area and leave money for updating and repairs it would cost $126 million to $157 million.

Options reviewed for fiber-optic network (Chelan PUD) March 21, 2012

Three alternatives for Chelan PUD’s fiber-optic network were presented at a special PUD meeting Monday evening, including:

  • Sell the network to another entity to operate
  • Keep the network and continue to operate it more efficiently without expanding at this time; concentrate on adding customers within the areas where fiber access is already available
  • Resume expanding the network, recognizing that it will require an increase in electric rates to all PUD customers to pay for it if the PUD is to meet requirements of its Strategic Plan

…The staff presentation and the audio recording  of the meeting are both posted on the PUD website.

PUD unveils early alternatives for fiber (Wenatchee World) March 20, 2012

If the Chelan County PUD’s fiber-optics network doesn’t make enough money to cover network expansion, don’t expand it.

That option seemed to make the most business sense of three alternatives that utility officials unveiled Monday at the first of four community meetings planned this week to discuss how to fix the network, which lost $8 million last year because revenues don’t cover costs.

PUD numbers favor revamping fiber plan (Wenatchee World) March 19, 2012

A more cost-conscious plan for Chelan County PUD fiber-optics could be the best financial option for the utility, but it would mean that currently unserved county residents who desperately want fiber would have to wait years to get it.

Clallam marks broadband expansion (Peninsula Daily News) March 18, 2012

The completion of the first leg of a major expansion of broadband for high-speed Internet service across the North Olympic Peninsula was hailed at a celebration last week.

PUD should alter fiber strategy to cut losses, stabilize rates (Lake Chelan Mirror) March 16, 2012

Consultant Doug Dawson echoed other experts who presented reports to PUD officials: Fiber optic network expansion is a bad idea, but with changes, the existing program could break even.

Choices for fiber system to be discussed PUD community meetings (Chelan PUD) March 14, 2012

Now that reports from independent analysts have been presented, Chelan County PUD will present alternatives for the future of its fiber-optic network at a series of community meetings next week. Public comment is invited.

Chelan PUD to take its fiber talk to communities (Wenatchee World) March 9, 2012

Chelan County PUD officials will visit Wenatchee, Cashmere, Leavenworth and Chelan next week to discuss alternatives for its fiber-optic network.

Broadband fiber link between Blyn, Sequim completed; more projects in the works (Peninsula Daily News) March 8, 2012

A $337,000 Internet broadband fiber link just completed between Blyn and Sequim will significantly benefit the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe and Sequim Library.

Northwest Open Access Network, known as NoaNet, and Clallam County Public Utility District representatives will celebrate the project’s end at 1 p.m. Friday, March 16, at the Sequim Library, 630 N. Sequim Ave.

Chelan PUD declares moratorium on ‘dark fiber’ (Wenatchee World) March 9, 2012

The Chelan County PUD can’t say ‘no’ to requests for “dark” fiber optics.

Commissioners learned Monday that if a customer wants to lease a strand of this unactivated PUD fiber, the utility’s rate schedule doesn’t currently give it the flexibility to refuse, even if the strand is necessary to handle future area demand.

Broadband fiber link between Blyn, Sequim completed; more projects in the works (Peninsula Daily News) March 8, 2012

A $337,000 Internet broadband fiber link just completed between Blyn and Sequim will significantly benefit the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe and Sequim Library.

Northwest Open Access Network, known as NoaNet, and Clallam County Public Utility District representatives will celebrate the project’s end at 1 p.m. Friday, March 16, at the Sequim Library, 630 N. Sequim Ave.

Fiber expansion continues in Moses Lake (Columbia Basin Herald) March 4, 2012

While standing in front of their home, Rick and Pat Darling were watching a crew dig holes to lay underground fiber cable.

The Moses Lake couple said they are excited about the option of having high-speed Internet, via the Grant County PUD’s fiber-optic system.

“I have dial-up now; it’s slow,” Rick Darling said Thursday.

Consultants: Changes needed to PUD fiber (Wenatchee World) February 29, 2012

The Chelan County PUD’s $115 million fiber-optic network has the potential to more than cover costs if the utility writes off the network’s $90 million in internal debt, more aggressively markets the service and shifts some installation duties to private, local companies.

That was the conclusion of one of four consultants that the PUD hired to delve into the dollars and sense of the network, which lost about $8 million last year under a business model that the utility’s own research concludes isn’t sustainable.

Future of Chelan PUD’s fiber program (Chelan PUD)  February 28, 2012

Meeting tonight – We have asked our customers and our communities to tell us what they want and how much they may be willing to pay as we develop possible future alternatives for the PUD’s fiber system in Chelan County. You’re invited to come and hear the results of the research and to hear from independent experts who have taken an objective look at the costs, the benefits and possible ways to create a sustainable fiber business for the future. Then we want to hear more from you as we offer alternatives leading toward a Board decision in April. View here for a live feed.

Fiber-optics up for discussion: PUD will take comments on future of fiber optic system (Lake Chelan Mirror) February 28, 2012

The future of fiber optics will be the center of the PUD’s attention at a series of five public hearings heald in the next few months…The first meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m., Feb. 28 at the Confluence Technology Center in Wenatchee.

Meetings will lead to decisions about future of PUD fiber-optic network (Chelan PUD) February 17, 2012

Chelan County PUD is inviting customers interested in the future of its extensive fiber-optic network to attend a series of public meetings that will lead to a decision in April on how to manage the system.

“We have asked our customers and our communities to tell us what they want and how much they may be willing to pay as we develop possible future alternatives for the PUD’s fiber system in Chelan County,” said Chelan PUD General Manager John Janney. “We invite people to hear from independent experts who have taken an objective look at the system, and then we invite people to tell us how they think we ought to proceed.”

We’ll just get static from state broadband bill (Guest Opinion-Dann Mead Smith and John Stephenson, Puget Sound Business Journal) February 10, 2012

Some lawmakers in Washington state are considering a poorly devised proposal to authorize millions in new local government spending on government-owned broadband networks that would do little to improve broadband service. Few in Olympia have stopped to consider whether taxpayers are getting their money’s worth. In reality, government is often the obstacle to expanding broadband access.

Chelan PUD banks big gain in 2011 (Wenatchee World) February 7, 2012

Cost-cutting and a big water year shepherded the Chelan County PUD to a $17.1 million gain in 2011, despite rock-bottom market prices for its surplus electricity….

…Unrestricted reserves ended the year at $186 million, up a couple million from a year ago, despite some $42 million in reserves spent on debt reduction.

Retail fiber authority for PUDs dies in Olympia (Wenatchee World) February 6, 2012

A bill that would have given PUDs the authority to sell Internet services directly to the public has expired in the state legislature, but the effort could rise again next year.

 HB 1711 failed to meet a Feb. 3 deadline to emerge from the house Technology, Energy and Communications Committee. That means it can’t move on in the current legislative session to be considered for law.

House Bill 1711 (House of Representatives Bill Status) January 2012

2nd Proposed Substitute Bill Compared to the Original Bill:

  • Limits retail telecommunications authority to those PUDs and rural port districts that are located in a county with a population of 50,000 or less, or any PUD that currently offers wholesale telecommunications services but not electricity services.
  • Removes provisions in the underlying bill granting retail telecommunications authority to municipalities.
  • Removes language authorizing PUDs and rural port districts to provide services to areas adjacent to their district.

Click owes ratepayers; give it a shot at repaying (The News Tribune Editorial) January 18, 2012

From the start, back in the 1990s, Tacoma’s Click Network was a weird hybrid of a venture – a public utility selling cable television, a commercial commodity.

Bill to bring high-speed Internet to rural communities draws opposition (North Kitsap Herald) January 17, 2012

Legislation that would allow public utility districts and rural port districts in underserved counties to provide telecommunications services directly to consumers is being met with strong opposition from lawmakers intent on leaving that service to private enterprise.

Click Network might soon sell bundled Net and phone (The News Tribune) January 15, 2012

By April, Tacoma’s Click Network could begin selling its own retail Internet and phone services, as Tacoma Public Utilities officials seek to ramp up the flat-lining telecommunications system to keep it competitive and viable into the future.

As part of the city-owned network’s new business model unveiled Wednesday, TPU officials said the network must expand beyond cable television to provide “bundle” packages of TV, data and voice services to compete with telecom giant Comcast and cover its own capital expenses.

Washington State consider community broadband bill (Reclaim the Media) January 12, 2012

Last year, Community Broadband News noted that a bill to expand local authority to invest in publicly owned broadband networks would return to the Washington Legislature in 2012. HB 1711 is in Committee and causing a bit of a stir. “A bit of a stir” is good — such a reaction means it has a chance at passing and giving Washington’s residents a greater opportunity to have fast, affordable, and reliable access to the Internet.

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