Beacon Point - Construction and Funding Needs

 01/02/2024 -  WCCBP -  ~3 Minutes

Beacon Point Neighbors:

Since our last update , we received a number of questions from folks who live in Beacon Point asking why they aren’t getting fiber yet. We know it’s frustrating to watch the fiber become available everywhere while you remain an island of have-nots. We reached out to both the PUD and HCC for details and wanted to share what we learned.

This update only applies to Beacon Point and other areas in Mason County outside the current HCC project boundaries   .

First, a bit of history. When utilities were first installed in Beacon Point, they were put underground, but no conduit was left for future uses (phone, cable, or fiber). While many of us have underground service on our driveways, the main trunk fiber is run on telephone poles. This makes it much cheaper and faster to install.

Second, some discussion of where the grant funds came from. This is one of the bigger differences between Jefferson County and Mason County. In Mason County, the money to install fiber came from a number of different grants: one grant ($700k from CERB) paid for the fiber to be run along US-101; another grant (ARPA) covered Colony Surf Divisions 5 & 6. This was an area where the PUD was also replacing underground power (no extra digging!) Other grants in Mason County covered different projects. Jefferson County was awarded a grant for the entire county south of Mt Walker (NTIA). Each grant had different restrictions and timelines, which is why some folks in Mason obtained service a year ahead of Jefferson County.

Now for some better news: service is possible to Beacon Point. Hood Canal Communications (HCC) has already invested in creating the network design designed and estimating the costs. Engineering estimates were about $3 million for 90 homes. This compares to the initial HCC grants for Jefferson County, which were $15MM to cover 862 folks   . That cost difference was part of the reason Beacon Point wasn’t the first project (some grants had cost caps).

We’ve spoken with both Mason PUD1 and HCC this week, and can confirm HCC hasn’t given up on or forgotten Beacon Point (or other areas outside the current project areas.) HCC is actively looking into WA Public Works Board   and US NTIA BEAD   grants to help fund the project.

Unfortunately, like the first batches of grants, it takes time. The smaller and less expensive Mason County projects came first. Jefferson County came next.

We share a bit of your frustration, but are also realistic that HCC is a small, locally-owned company with about 50 employees. They need time to get through all of the recent expansion.

Help going forward will come in the form of letters of support once grants are written, Emailing your elected officials letting them know this is a funding priority, and ensuring you contribute data showing the coverage gaps (take our speed test and then go to the FCC map and “challenge” bad data   if you can’t get service like Starlink.)

If you still have specific questions, please be aware that Mason PUD1 isn’t able to assist. While they have worked with HCC through this process on shared infrastructure, they can’t assist with Beacon Point. If you do contact HCC, be mindful they have been inundated with calls and questions and be kind.

HCC Packages and Construction Updates

 12/28/2023 -  WCCBP -  ~3 Minutes


Recent Installation Progress

Last month (November 30th, to be exact), HCC had another great announcement for broadband: the first Jefferson County customer is live! A few dozen folks have received service since near Seamount and select areas on the Duckabush. Crews are quite busy getting the remaining conduit buried and driveway trenching done, and are making good progress toward the 2024 installation goal.

Projects north of Mount Walker in Jefferson PUD territory are a bit behind schedule, but JPUD is working hard to start installation in some areas next year. Read more on their website.  

If you have not yet signed up, do it soon! Grant funds are first-come-first-served, and in some areas only the first 60% of families will get free installation. After that’s gone, other customers must pay to bring fiber from the road to their house.


Our earlier updates discussed how much Internet speeds you may wish to purchase, and we’ve updated them with Jefferson PUD’s new pricing. See our updated article here. As a quick recap, we recommend at least 100Mb of speed, and a gigabit (1000Mb) for families.


HCC and Jefferson PUD also sell phone service, which you can buy separately and without Internet. These services can connect to your existing phone wiring to fiber, so you can keep all of your phones. You can also subscribe to phone service without an Internet package.

You must also purchase a separate battery backup system to use your phones during a power outage. A UPS (battery) can cost less than $100   and can run your phone and Wi-Fi for multiple hours if the power is out.

If you already have a cell phone, your cell phone provider probably supports Wi-Fi calling, which is free. You can use your cell phone anywhere you have good Wi-Fi signal, including texting. We recommend Wi-Fi calling for most folks.

TV (HCC Only)

HCC also sells a TV service, called nexTV, which offers a satellite or cable-like experience. The service includes small TV boxes that you can install at each TV to watch live TV. You must subscribe to Internet to qualify for TV service.

nexTV works well as a replacement for your existing satellite service, but you should be careful to compare channel lineups and cost before switching. Since the fiber connection does not use your CATV lines, you can easily keep your satellite services.

You also have a choice in service. If you have a streaming device (smart TV, Aqpple TV, Roku, etc.) you can also easily subscribe directly to live TV streaming from a number of companies, including Youtube, Hulu, and DirecTV. If you have Netflix somewhere, you probably don’t need more equipment.

We recommend checking for the cheapest option using the service-finder tool Suppose TV   . Most live TV packages that include local channels cost $70-125/month, and work with your existing smart TV or streaming hardware.

-Robert, Phil, and Jim

Broadband in 2024 - What should you expect?

 08/11/2023 -  WCCBP -  ~2 Minutes


It’s been a busy summer for us, and we’ve been behind on our updates, but this one is a big one: in May, Hood Canal Communications broke ground on the Brinnon project!

This post focuses on folks south of Mount Walker. If you live in Quilcene or on the Toandos Peninsula, Jefferson PUD1 is building your network. Read more about their groundbreaking on the Jefferson PUD website   .

HCC Groundbreaking May 2023

What is coming?

Hood Canal Communications, a local family-owned cable company, is building a new fiber-optic network that will provide Internet, TV, and Phone to folks between Hama Hama Oyster Company and Mt Walker. This includes most people living in the Duckabush and Dosewallips valleys.

See a map of areas here.   The HCC network basically covers everyone along the major roads and neighborhoods, including the Duckabush and Dosewallips valleys.

When does it arrive?

The Mason PUD1 and Hood Canal teams started work in May, with a goal of full service by August 2024 ( their deadline for the state funding.) Folks will receive invitations to service starting from the south, near the Mason County line.

How much does it cost?

There are three tiers: $50 for 50/50; $64 for 100/100; and $84 for 1000/1000. If you’re buying the 100/100 or 1000/1000 services, you may also need to upgrade your Wi-Fi to use it.

Read our article to see which is right for you.

What if I already have service?

If you have service you like today, there is no reason to switch, but we will note that the HCC fiber network will be both faster, cheaper, and more reliable (e.g. doesn’t slow down at night or have data caps). We’ve used almost everything you can buy here: cellular, wireless, satellite, and DSL, and none compare. Read our deeper discussion here to find out why.

How do we sign up?

To get service, you need to sign up. It’s free (you can change your mind later) but important to speed up planning.

How do I get started with fiber?

 08/11/2023 -  WCCBP -  ~4 Minutes

Updated in December 2023 with Jefferson PUD information.

Wondering how to get started with fiber? Here’s our quick-and-simple guide.

If you’re in a hurry and wondering if you should switch, we think the choice is simple: HCC is cheaper and faster than anything available here today. It’s also likely to be more reliable as it doesn’t get slow in heavy rain or when everyone watches TV at once. That said, if you like your service today, there is no need to switch!

What do I need to get started?

You must sign up for service and buy or rent a Wi-Fi system. We recommend at least a Wi-Fi 5 system that is no more than 3 years old to use gigabit speeds. We recommend buying a new system yourself (cheaper), but you can also rent a system from HCC or JPUD. The rest of the work, including installing the fiber and the device that lets you connect to fiber (an Optical Network Unit) is provided by HCC/JPUD.

How does the fiber get to me?

Fiber lines will follow your electrical service, either overhead from the pole or underground. The engineering teams will discuss the exact path with you before work begins.

How much speed do you need?

We recommend a minimum of 100Mb of speed ($64). Bigger households should also consider the gigabit package ($84). Note that in some areas, only gigabit is available due to grant restrictions.

These speeds feel fast to us, but the US average speed today is already ~200Mb   and increasing (#7 globally). 100Mb speeds are only #37 globally and falling – currently behind Malta   !

Are discounts available?

Yes. HCC and JPUD participate in federal and state programs that reduce costs for folks in need. Discounts up to $30/month may be available for the 100Mb and gigabit services. Ask about discounts when you sign up for service.

Can I keep my old Wi-Fi gear?

Yes, but you probably need to upgrade if you buy the gigabit package. Most routers have an unadvertised house-wide speed limit of 400-600Mb and a per-device limit of 200Mb. This didn’t matter when service was slow, but matters with fiber. A good system should deliver at least 500Mb to any one device, and a full gigabit when 2+ people are using it.

If you want a quick fix, the Amazon eero pro 6   mesh system is a good, gigabit-ready, system. You can add more nodes to cover your whole house. For more information on picking a system, read more in our article here .

Should I rent a Wi-Fi system?

If you know how to set up Wi-Fi, buying is cheaper than renting. Renting is an advantage if you need HCC to help monitor your system.

The system HCC is renting is state of the art and gigabit ready (a Plume Wi-Fi 6E   system). This is as good as any system you can buy yourself. Jefferson PUD uses a slightly different model, but both work similarly.

Can I watch TV?

Yes. All streaming services work over fiber, and there are no bandwidth caps. The faster speeds should improve them too as there will be less buffering, lag, and you can watch higher resolution without hitting a data cap (satellite and cell).

HCC also sells a cable TV alternative if you don’t want to use a streaming service. This includes cable boxes that use Wi-Fi that replace your current satellite or cable boxes. Call HCC for channel lineups and more details.

Can I get phone service?

Yes. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon also support Wi-Fi calling   for free, which uses your local Wi-Fi like a cell tower. HCC’s fiber broadband will make this service much more reliable for you. If you have good Wi-Fi coverage, most folks don’t need a landline.

HCC also sells a landline service that can connect to your existing phones if you don’t have a cell phone.

A deeper discussion of fiber and broadband speed

 08/11/2023 -  WCCBP -  ~8 Minutes

If you’re really debating the choice of switching from your old provider to fiber, or you want to ensure your Wi-Fi is ready to support your new speeds, this guide is for you.

Should you switch to fiber?

In a nutshell, fiber is faster and cheaper. That’s good enough for most of us. But why? There are two factors: capacity and latency.

Capacity and Shared Bandwidth

No matter what service you subscribe to, you “share” bandwidth with your neighbors. How many folks share depends on your technology.

Traditional satellite providers (Viasat, Hughes) share a single satellite with the entire continent. Starlink shares it with our entire region. Cell phones share with your whole tower (miles). Local microwave shares with a neighborhood. Fiber shares bandwidth with at most 128 people.

Sharing isn’t a problem when few people use it or there is enough speed to go around, but it quickly becomes a problem during peak hours, which are usually 7PM - 11PM each day. The problem is big: at the biggest Internet exchange in Seattle   , the busy hour (9PM) is 2.5x busier than the quiet hour (5AM)!

Internet providers tackle this problem in different ways: letting the network slow down, setting data caps, or creating a more complex version of the two (e.g. cell phone companies.)

This is where fiber stands out: you share 10 gigabits of speed with at most 128 people, usually less. Starlink shares 18 gigabits for the whole satellite. A microwave system shares 400 megabits (0.4 gigabits) with your neighborhood. It’s not hard to do the math to see why fiber works better when it’s busy.


The other big advantage of fiber is something we don’t talk about much: latency. Compared to any wireless system, fiber takes less time to transmit a signal from your house to the Internet.

As a frame of reference we tested the time it takes to connect to Google from a home in Seattle using fiber. The total time was ~2ms (2 thousandths of a second.) Compare that to Viasat at 600ms, Starlink at ~40ms, or microwave at ~30ms. Since the wireless systems are sharing more bandwidth, that delay can vary a lot (Starlink is particularly bad, and swings from 20-100ms).

While that sounds fast, most web pages, games, and video conferencing work much better with low, consistent, latency. A single website usually needs to do 20-50 different things before it shows up. Latency makes each faster.

How much speed do you need?

Let’s get to the point: most of us don’t need gigabit speeds, yet.

If you don’t know what to get yet, start with a 100/100 service. Why? It’s enough to support 2 people, one TV, and all of your various “smart” devices. Can you get by with less? Yes, but even the FCC agrees 100Mb is a good minimum   , and you’re still half the US average speed.

If you have a bigger family, a lot of devices, or work from home, more speed can help. While you won’t use a gigabit most of the time, the ability to back your laptop up to the cloud in less than a week is a useful feature.

Remember that your needs today will change, particularly as you add more “smart” devices. The Brinnon Community Center thought its network had broken down, but later learned that their new security cameras were using all of the capacity!

How do the prices compare?

The packages available to you will differ based on where you live. Check with HCC’s signup tool to know exactly what is available at your house.

Speed Price Notes
50/50 $50 Faster than all Viasat, T-Mobile, Centurylink, and NOPDC services. Recommended for ≥3 users or occasional use.
100/100 $64 Faster than all local services. Good for most households, and can support >4 users, security cameras, etc.
1000/1000 $84 Faster than most Wi-Fi. Good for very large families or heavy remote work.

Takeaway? Most of us will save 30-50% per month on our bills.

Is it really this fast?

Yes. We recently (August 2023) had a chance to do some speed tests on some of the first customers to get service. We used an older router with an Ethernet cable, and regularly got about 700Mb down and 796Mb up. Latency (ping) to our datacenter in Seattle was about 5 ms with <1 ms of jitter (this matters a lot for gamers).

Why is it faster uploading? Fewer people use upload speeds!

Why wasn’t it faster? The theoretical maximum speed is ~960Mb, and in this case the old router we used was slowing us down. Wi-Fi speeds were ~200Mb. Once this customer upgrades, they should get closer to the maximum speed.

If you’re curious, we also ran tests at a friend’s house in Seattle who uses Google Fiber. Google is widely considered to be the “gold standard” ISP, and their speeds are typically in the 800Mb range. The fact HCC was close to the in-city speeds was impressive!

What about storms, trees, and power outages?

A lot of folks have asked us what happens in a storm. Like many things, the answer depends.

On the upside, fiber doesn’t slow down in heavy storms like satellite, cellular, and microwave connections. It’s just as fast when it’s pouring down and the lights are on. That’s helpful around here when it’s nasty and everyone wants to binge a different show!

Things are different when the power goes out. Fiber networks need power, and while HCC has batteries throughout their system, eventually they run out. This will take several hours, but if you have have a generator or a big UPS and the power is out for a while, it’s possible you have power but no Internet. This limit is true of almost all systems, including cellular and local microwave. Only satellite (solar power!) has an advantage here.

The worst-case scenario is when a tree falls and snaps the fiber. This is usually pretty rare - often the much-stronger electrical lines take the hit - and if the fiber doesn’t break, it still works.

Since we’ve never had a network in our area, we don’t have good data on outages, but we have spoken with both the PUD and HCC, and we know fiber is a priority. We’ll be monitoring this winter as services start coming online and report what we find!

When is Wi-Fi the bottleneck?

As we discussed in our other note , your router or Wi-Fi system is often the reason you don’t get fast speeds. Why? Most manufacturers took shortcuts and over-advertised speed. Nobody noticed because their Internet was slower than the hidden limit. Fiber exposes that issue quickly!

The first one of us who got HCC service only had speed tests of 100-200Mb (download). Why? Older Wi-Fi gear. The router itself could only handle ~800Mb, and the Wi-Fi system capped it even lower.

These limits are common, and depending on how old your equipment is, you’ll see Wi-Fi limits between 200-400Mb. If your equipment is older than 3 years or cost less than $300, it’s closer to the low end. If you’re buying the gigabit service, you should plan to upgrade your Wi-Fi system too.

Need a quick fix? We recommend the Amazon eero pro 6   . It’s tested to gigabit speeds and easy to expand if you have a big house (just add more nodes!). Want to compare your current system? The Wirecutter review of mesh Wi-Fi systems   is a good starting point to see how your system performs and to find other choices.

The Wi-Fi Speed Limit For Everyone

Even if you buy a brand-new system, don’t expect speeds more than ~500Mb to a single device. Why? More manufacturer shortcuts. To deliver gigabit to a single device, you need a big (160MHz) channel. This currently needs special FCC licenses that only commercial Wi-Fi gear got. So most home equipment is limited to ~500Mb per device. This will change when WiFi 6E and WiFi 7 start to become mainstream, but it will be several years before that happens, and you must upgrade all of your devices to take advantage of those speeds!

This isn’t a problem in practice as most mobile devices need nowhere near 500Mb, so if you’re trying to test your actual speed, use an Ethernet cable.

We recommend speed tests using a combination of these sites: Cloudflare   , Measurement Lab   (also used by WA state to verify speeds), and Ookla Speedtest   .

A Note About Ethernet

Think of Ethernet as the secret weapon for better speed. Your new fiber-to-ethernet modem supports up to 10 gigabits on a $5 copper cable. How? Ethernet is what connects almost ever server on the Internet. Since it’s the common standard, a lot of folks spend time making it faster. The fastest Ethernet connection is 400 gigabits!

We won’t ever need that speed at home, but by using a cable whenever you can, it saves capacity for truly wireless devices. We recommend using Ethernet for anything stationary: TVs, gaming consoles, and printers are all great candidates. You’ll also never have to slowly type in your Wi-Fi password on some ancient screen again.

Using Ethernet between your Wi-Fi mesh nodes is also a good idea, as it saves the wireless bandwidth for your devices, and is always faser than a wireless signal. It’s not strictly required, but if you have a choice, use Ethernet. It’s a guaranteed way to ensure the best performanceuse Ethernet.


So what should you do? Consider your budget and family needs. Most of us will save a lot of money and get much faster service with HCC, but if you are happy with your services today, there is no need to change anything.

Broadband Is Finally Arriving - Sign Up Now!

 04/29/2023 -  WCCBP -  ~3 Minutes


Since we got started in 2016 almost all of our postings have been appeals for help. We’re delighted to share some big news this morning that the Hood Canal Communications team hinted at a few weeks ago:

Broadband arrives in Brinnon by Fall 2024!

What does this mean?

If you’ve lived around here for a while, you know the struggle we’ve had with broadband.

While we have a few different options available today, they’re either expensive or not available to everyone. Hood Canal’s network is different: it’s fiber to your house. Trees don’t interfere. It’s the same technology used to serve big neighborhoods in the cities, so it has the capacity to deliver good speed all the time.

On top of the speeds, it’s also cheaper than any 25/3 service we can buy today, and doesn’t have download caps.

What services are available?

Hood Canal Communications is a full service Internet, TV, and phone provider, and plans to offer all of its services. We’re going to focus on broadband.

Rigth now, HCC plans to offer several different speed tiers at different price points. The most expensive is a full gigabit (1000/1000) connection, which is which is great if you work remotely or have a big family.

Slower speeds – which are still faster than most service today – are available for lower prices. We typically recommend you buy at least 100/20 service if there are more than 2 people in your home or you watch streaming TV (Netflix).

There will also be accessibility grants (discounts) available for those who qualify. Look for more news here as the Jefferson Broadband Action Team works to secure funding and announces details.

How do you sign up?

Click here to join the waitlist on Hood Canal’s site.   Joining the waitlist is free (you don’t need a credit card) and does not obligate you to subscribe. However, knowing you’re interested helps Hood Canal with their planning.

There is another important reason to sign up early: the state and federal grant money isn’t unlimited. Early signups will have installation costs paid by the grant. Folks who sign up after 2024 may need to pay for the installation out of pocket.

Help needed from HOAs!

If you live in a neighborhood with an HOA (e.g. OCT, Lazy C, etc.) we also need to know how to contact your board. Hood Canal is intersted in talking to your HOA president and board to discuss any access agreements that may be required on community-owned property. We’re working to collet the list for them, so please Email us at [email protected] .

-Robert, Phil, and Jim