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TODAY'S HEADLINES

'IT'S GONE'

Navy mourns loss of ex-shipmates

Gordon: Risks are real

Proposed salmon center would be one of a kind

Groups fishing for funds to build planned facility

Poulsbo could be first to connect to telecommunications 'backbone'

Growth, infrastructure major goals for Port Orchard in '03

4-H JUDGING: Training offered this month

FIRE SAFETY: Volunteer needed

TELECOM: Meeting to be shown on television

Remember when...

Knife threat called 2nd-degree assault

Employee accused of embezzling

Chase and crash bring felony count

Mother was victim, says theft charge

Long fight with cops brings prison

Shotgun 'fun' leads to charge

Correspondents sought

Police struggle to explain record murder level

WSP seeks funding to repair 'critical' jet

Seven killed in avalanche

Power companies may feel chill from warm winter

Conservative Stevens still seeks change, but sees government of grays

Tighter border security holding back regional economy

STATE BRIEFS

Lottery

VIEW OF THE WEATHER



BROADBAND TECHNOLOGY
Poulsbo could be first to connect to telecommunications 'backbone'

Steven Gardner
Sun Staff

February 2, 2003

The first of the broadband "last miles," or at least the "next mile," could be in place by the end of winter in Poulsbo. Bainbridge Island might not be far behind.

The Poulsbo City Council is expected to consider signing an agreement with the Kitsap Public Utilities District this month that would connect city offices using a fiber-optic wide area network.

The benefit is higher-speed Internet access, which could be significant, especially to those who send large documents using e-mail.

Poulsbo would be the first Kitsap County government to jump on the broadband wagon since KPUD finished installing an 82-mile backbone through Kitsap County in July.

Connecting a backbone to residents and businesses is called the "last mile" in the industry. Whether that ends up happening through a private reseller or a government acting as a reseller is undecided.

But Poulsbo currently is surveying junior taxing districts and other entities to measure the interest in broadband.

"Poulsbo is implementing an incremental program very much like dropping a pebble in a pond," said Ed Stern, Poulsbo city councilman and chair of the Kitsap Regional Telecommunications Committee. "And then we study and watch the ripples."

The Kitsap backbone might launch a ripple of its own. The wiring completed in July did not include Bainbridge Island, but could soon.

City Councilwoman Deborah Vann said KPUD plans to get broadband to the island in the spring. In the meantime the city and the Bainbridge School District are looking at wiring the schools and government buildings.

"We think the city and the school district combined, because of what we spend on our T-1 lines, will still be saving money by going with broadband," she said.

Vann said the convenience of broadband is attractive. She said transmission of an 80-page document that today might take several hours could be done within a few minutes using broadband.

She said she hopes the line in Bainbridge, in addition to connecting the schools, would run along Madison Avenue and Winslow Way, the island's major business district.

Bainbridge City Councilman Bill Knobloch said that line likely would make it less expensive for Winslow businesses to access the technology even if the city did nothing beyond hooking itself up.

"The city is being selfish," he said. "But in being selfish we provide a right-of-way for local business."

How residents and businesses take advantage of the technology still is undecided in both cities.

Vann said neighborhoods could create local utility districts or local improvement districts. The costs certainly will play a major deciding factor. The city's role, she said, probably will be in educating people how they can get signed on.

The Bainbridge Island Citizens Technology Advisory Committee met Friday with Scott Snyder of the law firm Ogden Murphy Wallace to discuss some of the financial and legal issues.

Snyder said Kitsap County might be a good candidate for grant money because of broadband's security benefits compared to wireless telecommunication.

Snyder said money recently became available under the new federal Department of Homeland Security, though rules for getting the money are still unclear.

As home to Naval Submarine Base Bangor and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Kitsap County "would be a natural" for such funds, Snyder said.

The lack of history or stability in the industry makes it difficult for any government to know how broadband will move beyond city halls.

Telecommunication companies are in crisis financially because of the economy, Stern said. Laws and regulations regarding who can sell the technology also are unclear.

"We're in a playing field that's in total flux," he said.

Perhaps for that reason alone, the steps cities are going through now might appear to some to be extremely calculated.

Bainbridge, said Vann, is perfectly willing to let Poulsbo take the lead on this issue.

And Poulsbo, even though it could be the first West Sound city to embrace the technology, is going slowly.

"We do things methodically and exhaustively," said Stern. "We're very much akin to the middle child in a large family. We're learning from where others have gone. Our city council is only taking the smallest and surest of steps."

Reach reporter Steven Gardner at (360) 779-3131 or mailto:sgardner@thesunlink.com


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