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Give another thought to PUD’s broadband

In the recent update on the Truckee Donner Public Utility District’s broadband plan (for fiber-optic networking to the home, or FTTH), “Utility district to begin another broadband survey” in the Sept. 11 Sierra Sun, board member Bill Thomason is quoted, “I can’t see any way that this survey is going to come back positive [i.e. in favor of building a Fiber infrastructure] … based on all the people I have talked to in town.” Of course, he was similarly skeptical about the changing demand for broadband alternatives, as quoted in these pages, when he was running for TDPUD board in 2004 ” only one year after the last survey came back overwhelmingly positive. Also, the townspeople he has been talking to somehow don’t include the group that packed the TDPUD boardroom this spring, lined up to list their needs for better broadband choices, and begged the board to go forward with the FTTH plan ” I’d swear he was in the room, though.

I’d certainly expect the new survey to come back overwhelmingly against the current broadband providers, though. From terrible reliability problems, concerns over privacy, the lack of reasonably priced business networking services or simply the lack of service at all to some areas, there are plenty of reasons people have voiced about disliking our current broadband options. Further, there are those who are OK with the current services themselves, but would prefer to do business with a local publicly owned company than a large, nationwide corporation.

In short, it’s all about enabling choices: Truckee needs alternatives so that people have somewhere else to go. While some are content with their current internet providers ” broadband, dialup or none ” the needs of many are not being met. This group is not geographically set-apart from town, as is the case with the unique needs of some of the PUDs water customers, but the PUD is to be lauded for constructing a viable plan to meet these customers’ needs. Better still, the network costs nothing to those who don’t sign up, but laying the groundwork now ensures that the choice is available to everyone for years to come.



FTTH was a great idea when it was conceived here over five years ago, it’s a great idea now, and investors are aware of this. Every community across the US which has implemented a reasonable FTTH plan has been successful. This project would have been well underway by now, but the cable company successfully diverted everyone’s attention for three years with lawsuits and fear-mongering while they scrambled to make their service more competitive. That alone is a great reason to proceed with the FTTH plan: When a child throws a tantrum, the worst possible thing to do is to reward and encourage their behavior by giving them what they want.

To all who get surveyed, I ask you: Consider your needs today, consider your needs for the future, and consider the needs of your neighbors. Ask yourself where this town will be in 20 years if the PUD’s project is allowed to succeed, or where we will be if we allow a handful of big telecom companies to bully our Town into submission.



Dan Dickerman is a stay-at-home dad who knows a thing or two about technology.


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