Broadband: The decision for Truckee is simple |

Broadband: The decision for Truckee is simple

The ongoing broadband “My Turn” debate between the board president of the Truckee Donner Public Utility District, who has weathered frivolous lawsuits to bring this plan forward, and those working for the local cable company, which brought those suits, obscures the issues.

While “The Company Formerly Known as Pac Bell” offers DSL to over half the town and Cebridge offers cable modem to slightly more, many of Truckee is still without reasonable broadband choices. Many who can get DSL or cable modem access may be happy with their service, but many others are not and are left without options. The PUD is just trying to fix that.

Financially, the decision is simple. The project is to be funded by outside investors who will be solely at risk, and will be repaid through broadband sales. This includes repayment of the money already spent on the project to date, which was borrowed from existing PUD funding. The agreement is structured such that PUD and the town cannot be held responsible for the project’s debt in any way. So truly, Truckee has nothing to lose by this arrangement and much to gain.

Secretive process? Attend the televised PUD meetings. All of this has been discussed openly and in great detail. In just this month’s meetings learn:

– real financial numbers and projections for the project.

– the number of projected subscribers to the project, based on impartial surveys of Truckee and similar projects elsewhere.

– The backbone for this entire project is the need to communicate between PUD facilities. Bringing broadband to the home is a side-benefit to that project, produced at incremental cost.

– Fiber to the Home (FTTH) has been implemented in a number of communities across the US, and every well-structured plan has been successful.

The PUD is not dismissive, only unwilling to discuss points that have been rehashed in the already-lengthy meetings over a five-year investigation. Such as:

– Cebridge threatens to continue their appeals unless the PUD is willing to use (i.e. lease) the existing Cebridge infrastructure. The PUD is not interested in extortion, and their infrastructure is not as reliable as the PUD needs for their uses.

– Cebridge was offered the TV franchise on the PUD’s lines, but they refused that sort of partnership.

– There are several other networking technologies that were investigated, but fiber is still the one with fewest problems, highest bandwidth, reliability, and longest useful life.

– There have been badly-implemented FTTH programs that did not survive, and those which were intentionally structured as not-for-profit. These are by far the minority, but these cases are frequently high-lighted by the Cable and DSL companies.

While I fully appreciate that there are those who would not subscribe to a FTTH service, there are others who are very much looking forward to an alternative. In the middle of Tahoe Donner our cable modem service goes out anytime there is construction in the neighborhood, sometimes for minutes, sometimes for days. While that may be okay for some, it is not acceptable for a full-time telecommuting tech professional.

You wouldn’t buy it, yourself? Fine, but give the rest of us the option.

It’s increasingly clear that high-speed data services are the future of all media delivery, hence the current phone and cable providers across the U.S. fighting like crazy to prevent competition. For the sake of those yet unreached by broadband, or for those who just need something better, please back the PUD in their efforts to bring broadband throughout Truckee.

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