PUD plans telecom backbone for region

Over the next few months Kitsap County will be shedding its jellyfish image in terms of telecommunications access and getting a little backbone. Actually, thanks to the Kitsap Public Utilities District, it will be a lot of backbone. Members of the Regional Telecommunications Committee were briefed Thursday on how KPUD was working to expand and improve access throughout the county.

Over the next few months Kitsap County will be shedding its jellyfish image in terms of telecommunications access and getting a little backbone. Actually, thanks to the Kitsap Public Utilities District, it will be a lot of backbone.

Members of the Regional Telecommunications Committee were briefed Thursday on how KPUD was working to expand and improve access throughout the county.

With CenturyTel, Quest and Sprint taking the lead early in the telecom race, executive director of the Kitsap Regional Economic Development Council Zoltan Szigethy said the addition of the KPUD in 2000 has done nothing but enhance the competitive base in the area.

“They bring even more fiber optics capacity here,” he remarked. “Our capacity in this county has improved by leaps and bounds over the past few years. Without it, this county would be dead in the water.”

Since June 2000, KPUD has been a wholesaler in the telecommunications market but, according to its computer specialist project technician David Jones, that was just the first step down a long road.

On Nov. 15, the agency will start infrastructure work in Bremerton that will expand the county’s fiber optics capability dramatically. By March 2002, Jones estimated that this nerve center or “backbone” will stretch north through Silverdale to Poulsbo and as far as Four Corners near Kingston.

“It’s a true backbone,” he explained, adding that the system will grow with local demand.

At present, 440,000 feet of fiber optics have been bought, the KPUD has completed its feasibility study and has nearly finished its business plan. The route of the backbone has also been identified and resulting right-of-way purchases are underway.

Plans are already in the works for phase two of the project, which will encompass lines from Kingston to Hansville, Gig Harbor to Port Orchard, Gorst to Poulsbo and finally to Bainbridge Island. A long-range proposal would tie the local network in with surrounding counties.

While the fiber optics is the equivalent to a shot in the arm in terms of local telecommunications companies’ competitiveness, it isn’t just going to assist existing businesses, Jones said. It will lure new ones to Kitsap County as well, adding additional tax dollars and jobs to the local economy.

“It’s an amazing asset we can use,” he remarked.

“There is a benefit of providing this right now — a lot of telecommunications companies are hungry,” Jones added, “What we bring to Kitsap County is not so much for our generation but for the next generation.”

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