PUD enters fiber-optic business
Truckee may be moving into an exciting new realm of advanced telecommunications by constructing a fiber-optic cable network.
The Truckee-Donner Public Utility District Board of Directors and staff have been discussing for several months the possibility of constructing a more advanced telecommunications infrastructure in Truckee. In a joint effort with USA Media, the two organizations are discussing ways to design and construct network.
“We get a lot of complaints in Truckee that Internet access is very slow. We thought Truckee would benefit by having a more advanced telecommunications plan,” said TDPUD General Manager Peter Holzmeister.
“There’s a lot of talk in the industry about a community that wires itself for telecommunications. Communities that do this will thrive in the information age. Truckee-Donner (PUD) has taken this to heart and we do believe that the Truckee community will thrive with this service,” he said.
The telecommunications plan includes a series of three interlocking rings that make up the fiber-optic network to connect the Truckee community. According to Holzmeister, one segment would cover the business community along and around Donner Pass Road from Donner Lake to Glenshire, one in Tahoe Donner and one up Highway 89 to the Prosser area.
The information was presented to TDPUD board members at a special meeting Monday afternoon. The board will make a recommendation on the plan at next Wednesday’s meeting. If the board gives the district the go-ahead, the timetable will be quick, said Holzmeister.
“We see completing this project before the end of the year. We are anticipating being under construction before the snow falls,” said Holzmeister.
Construction will be quick because the PUD plan on constructing the system above ground through the utility poles, as opposed to an underground connection which is much more time-consuming.
A fiber-optic network will not only give people quicker Internet access, people will have more Internet Service Providers to choose from.
“We have learned that communities that wire for advanced telecommunications and guarantee access to services will prosper in the newly emerging marketplace,” Holzmeister wrote in a staff report late last week.
A fiber-optic network will also serve the district’s own needs such as improving their water and electric Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. The two SCADA systems currently use different different signals – the water SCADA system uses radio signals and the electric SCADA system uses telephone signals.
“With fiber-optic, they will both be on a common system. They will be able to talk to each other,” said Holzmeister. With these improved communications, the district will be able to save money with increased efficiency.
In addition, Holzmeister said the Truckee business community will benefit with fiber-optic with data transmissions.
USA Media subscribers will also benefit from a fiber-optic network according to both TDPUD and USA Media officials.
“The cable subscribers will benefit. It will provide enhanced services as well as more reliable services,” said Roger Terneuzen, regional manager for USA Media.
“Fiber is the new technology. The beauty of fiber is you can have several pieces of fiber in one piece of cable. In each piece of fiber your able to send a tremendous amount of information,” he said.
Although the two agencies are still having discussing the details on how the joint venture will work, both sides are confident they will come to an agreement by early next week.
Holzmeister said that under the proposed arrangement, TDPUD would own the network and USA Media would secure a long-term lease agreement from which they would be assured access to some of the fibers.
“We’re still having discussions, but I’m confident and optimistic that we will come to some sort of agreement in cooperation with the TDPUD.”
The estimated cost to deploy a fiber-optic backbone in Truckee is approximately $1.5 million including the cost of necessary electronic equipment. According to the TDPUD staff report, the revenues to support the telecommunications distribution infrastructure debt service would be generated by by Internet service.
The role of public utilities in telecommunications has been growing over the last few years throughout the United States, said Holzmeister.
“It has become common on the past couple of years. There is so much overlap between the electric utility industry with the computer industry that more and more utility district’s are launching into the telecommunications business. It’s becoming a common business practice,” he said.
The TDPUD Board of Directors will meet next week at 7 p.m. in the TDPUD board room to listen to the staff’s final recommendation and make a decision on weather or not to move forward.
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