Sunday, September 16, 2012

Public utility district Internet as alternative to Google fiber

Most rural communities lag in the type of broadband Internet service available in urban areas. But northeast of Spokane, in Newport and the surrounding hills and valleys, around 5,000 homes and businesses have the chance to connect soon to a fiber-optic system with lightning-fast speed.

The network being built by the Pend Oreille Public Utility District will allow users to download and upload data all the way up to 1,000 megabits, or 1 gigabit, per second - far faster than the 10 to 20 megabits that is a popular consumer choice today.

It will rival the Google Fiber system rolling out in the Kansas City area and is fast enough to download a movie in seconds, conduct video conferencing at home, and watch multiple high-definition TV programs simultaneously online.

“We believe it’s kind of the footprint for the future of rural communities,” said Joe Onley, manager of the Community Network System for the Pend Oreille PUD

I expect PUDs like this one and consumer cooperatives will take the lead in building out fiber. The key reason is the time to return on investment is too long for private sector players, whether they be AT&T, Verizon, or Google.  And that applies in all areas -- not just rural locations.

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