04/05/2021 - WCCBP - ~1 Minute
It’s been a while since we last spoke about Brinnon’s broadband problems. 2021 is turning into a big year for rural broadband in the county and state. Good things are coming, but we’re at risk of getting skipped over again if we don’t speak up.
We’re rebuilding our mailing list, so please sign up here to get updates. The list is open to all, so feel free to share this link. If you don’t renew, this will be the last you hear from us.
We hope your 2021 is going better than your 2020.
-Robert, Phil, and Jim
04/05/2021 - WCCBP - ~2 Minutes
It’s been more than five years since a small group of neighbors got together to see how to get internet to Brinnon and parts nearby. After we started advocating for service, North Olympic Data Centers built the network we planned! (If you haven’t heard, you can check availablity and sign up here .
We’re re-launching our group in 2021, as it’s shaping up to be a big year for broadband on the entire peninsula. The pandemic showed our local PUDs and the entire government why access matters, and how big the divide is between towns and rural areas.
Locally, Jefferson County’s PUD is getting serious about building a broadband network. The state is changing laws that banned many PUD and community projects (laws written by the big telephone and cable companies.) At the federal level, $9.2B was spent last year funding rural access, with much more likely on its way. Rumors are that more than $100B will be spent this year.
With all of the activity, we’re still at risk of being forgotten. The county’s plans only go where people already have one or more choices, and stop at Quilcene. To the south, our Mason County neighbors are left in the dark above the Hama Hama Oyster Company. Many others don’t have affordable choices. We need our collective voices to help guide all of the investment that’s coming!
To learn more, bookmark this page, join our email list, and please participate in our survey!
-Robert, Phil, and Jim
03/30/2021 - WCCBP - ~3 Minutes
If you’ve been in a rural part of the peninsula this past year, you’ve probably struggled with poor internet connectivity. This post is a quick recap of a few new options launching in 2021, what you can expect in our area, and how to learn more.
Option 1: SpaceX Starlink (and Kupier and One Web)
Starlink has made some big waves recently, and for good reason: they’ve launched the biggest privately owned satellite constellation in the world. Their goal is to provide global high speed Internet access at a good price: $100/mo with no contract.
Unlike current satellite providers, there are no data caps or time-of-use restrictions. It’s also using a very different type of satellite, so the latency (lag) is very low.
Early reports from real customers are promising. Speeds >100Mb (up and down) are common, and many are reporting periods where it’s >300Mb.
For Olympic Peninsula residents, the biggest catch is that you need a big patch of open sky that points north. Any tall trees, buildings, or mountains block the signal. Since the satellites are always in motion, trees can result in brief outages (similar to driving while using your cell phone.) You also need to mount the dish within ~100ft of a power outlet.
That’s a major drawback for many of us. If you don’t own the trees blocking your view, don’t want to cut them, or live on a southern slope, you may not be able to see enough sky.
However, if you can see the sky and afford to pay the $600 fee, Starlink is a very promising option.
Option 2: LTE/5G “Home Internet”
After years “unlimited” data that actually had a lot of limits (or “network management”), cell phone companies are also starting to adapt. This year, Verizon and T-Mobile have announced new 5G-based services focused on the home user.
Unlike your cell phone or hotspot, the “home internet” product does not have caps or speed throttling. The only limit is they are tied to your address, so you can’t move the router around. Speeds can be fast enough for a family to stream video, work, and go to school at the same time.
The drawback is you’re using the same cell towers your phone does. Real-world tests report issues with slow speeds . What’s more, while 5G is coming to existing towers, the new service doesn’t fix deadspots. Remote areas also get a different 5G that’s tuned for long range over speeds, so if you’re far from town or a tower, speeds are even further limited.
The good news is that the plans are much cheaper than Starlink. T-Mobile service officially launched nationwide in April, and Verizon is slowly rolling their new service out as the network is upgraded.
For those with some cell phone coverage at home but lacking a good broadband option, these services may be a good fit.
-Robert (the tech guy)
08/21/2017 - WCCBP - ~2 Minutes
West Hood Canal Residents:
It’s been a long while since our last public meeting, and we have been working to secure the necessary contracts with the various parties to begin launching the network before the snows return this winter. After all this time we received our final terms from the company in Hawaii (yes, Hawaii) who purchased the towers on Mt Jupiter this spring.
And then something else happened. When we plugged our trusty radio in to do some site surveys, we noticed a new signal from the tower. A commercial provider had arrived. On July 28, North Olympic Wireless launched wireless service from the same tower we had been negotiating to use on Mt Jupiter. NOPDC is the same company we had mentioned in our original presentations, and who has also been attending all of our community meetings along the way.
While we can’t claim original inspiration, they were moved by the community interest, and have been planning expansion to our area. That day has arrived, as service is now available for the Dosewallips river valley, and has been available to homes with line of sight to Seabeck since late last year.
For us working on the West Canal Community Broadband Project, a lot of time and energy went into designing the network, finding vendors, community meetings, and financial planning. It would have been exciting to put that work to good use, and have the chance to create a permanent non-profit whose goal is to drive pricing lower and expand access for the community. While we’re disappointed that our non-profit idea won’t go forward, there are a lot of advantages to this plan: North Olympic Wireless (NOPDC) already has a local team who do this full time, they have more experience, and they offer services at lower price points than we could.
While we’re not managing the radios ourselves, we believe our project brought visibility to a dire need in the community, and had a hand in encouraging someone like NOPDC to bring service faster than they would have otherwise.
Thanks for following.
Robert, Phil and Jim
05/22/2017 - WCCBP - ~3 Minutes
It’s been almost 6 months since our last community meeting, and although we’ve shared a few updates over Email, we wanted to take a moment to share more with you. Although we’d hoped to make a bit more progress before the rain fades, a combination of work and community planning has taken its toll (did we mention that Phil, among his many roles, is also leading Shrimpfest this weekend?)
The good news is that we have made some important progress behind the scenes, and are gearing up for the next steps this summer. Here’s a quick update of what we’ve done so far in 2017.
Network Planning - Door by Door
Since our meeting in December, we’ve compiled over 400 names from people interested in service in the area. While that’s exciting, it’s given us the data we needed to study where we need service the most. As many of you who signed up know, there are a lot of people who don’t have easy line of sight to Mt Jupiter.
We learned a few things from our study: there is a lot of demand in the Olympic Canal Tracts, lower Lazy C Ranch, and in a variety of smaller clusters along the waterfront. The technology we’re building the network with is designed to work best when you can “see” your neighbor or the tower. That means line of sight to a neighbor who is interested in service, a pole that can “see” a bunch of homes, or the tower itself.
We need volunteers to work together to survey the last mile.
Our hope is to conduct a planning over the Memorial Day weekend.
We’ve also been hard at work on the legal structure for the network. While we can’t announce our plans yet, we’re working to reduce startup costs by leveraging an existing non-profit vehicle in the area. Look for more in our next update.
Network Provider and Cost
The next-to-last (and best) news is that we’re working with a new provider, who has a lot more experience in the area, and who has helped us greatly reduce the initial cost of building the network connection to Kitsap. This was our single largest risk (so far), and we now have a clear path toward launch.
Our final update revolves around funding. A number of members in the community have stepped forward and offered tentative funding - enough we may be close to enough to get a network online this summer. If you’d like to help but haven’t contacted us, please Email us .
11/16/2016 - WCCBP - ~1 Minute
Join us for our next community meeting in Brinnon at 4PM on December 3rd, 2016 in the Brinnon Community Center.