Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Here you can find answers to the most commonly asked questions. If you cannot find the answer to your questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us!
Answer: Broadband Internet (FCC defined as 25mbps download/3mbps upload) is critical for today's digital economy, educational resources, public safety, and more.
The state of Washington has established the State Broadband Office and set the goal of every home and business in the state having access to at least 150/150mbps broadband service by the year 2028.
The reason broadband deployment is increasingly considered an essential infrastructure is that in today's connected world, it is extremely difficult to fully engage in learning, working, conducting business, or accessing healthcare without the availability of high-speed Internet services. As the effort to get electricity out to all Americans was 100 years ago, high-speed Internet infrastructure is the critical infrastructure push of today.
Fiber-optic broadband infrastructure can support unlimited bandwidth use and has minimal signal degradation over long distances.
Copper wire loses about 94% of its bandwidth capacity over 100 meters, where fiber-optic line only loses about 3% over the same distance.
Broadband can also be delivered wirelessly. Wireless can be a good solution when wireline infrastructure is cost-prohibitive due to difficult geography or low building density. However, wireless infrastructure can be impacted by weather, trees, and other environmental factors.
Answer: Reliable high-speed digital infrastructure is often one component in economic growth and diversification within a community. It draws and sustains college students, clean & high-tech business, medical providers, and others who want to live rural yet still be connected to the world. Businesses can use broadband to expand their customer base, and save money through smart technology and energy management.
Everyone benefits from fiber. Large businesses need high-speed, point-to-point network connections for daily commercial traffic (payroll, bills of lading, purchase orders, automated library systems, medical information) and internet access. Fiber optics advance health care providers’ ability to share diagnostic and non-diagnostic images and confidential information with other physicians across the town, state, and nation. For instance, hospitals need fast, reliable, secure digital network connectivity to other medical providers. This allows the secure confidential transmission of large amounts of information such as x-rays, MRI, CT scans, medical and insurance records, which translates to better health care services for patients. Schools need interconnection to provide educational tools, research sharing, and distance learning opportunities. Agri-businesses can use broadband to monitor field conditions, water and electric usage and access market information. Increasingly, students need access to high-speed Internet to study from home, and adults need to have the flexibility to work remotely from their office.
Answer: In short, the PUD received information that residential and commercial customers within many parts of the PUD service territory were unsatisfied with their lack of internet speed and/or choices. Therefore, the PUD has worked to acquire grant funds to solve this problem.
In early 2020, the PUD formed the Lewis County Broadband Action Team (BAT) and worked with the BAT to launch a community-wide broadband survey to get a better understanding of what Lewis County residents and businesses want and need in broadband service. The survey also included a speed test component, so the PUD could gain a better understanding of which communities were or were not being served with broadband access. The survey was taken by 3,673 respondents (about 10% of the PUD’s customer base), and showed that 77.2% of respondents did not have access to broadband. Many of these respondents also indicated that they believe broadband to be an essential utility like power and water.
The PUD will also be able to use a small portion of this infrastructure to support its electric system infrastructure.
Answer: The PUD will work to secure the necessary funding from state and federal agencies that allow us to deploy broadband infrastructure throughout the PUD service territory. As the PUD secures funds, it will begin building the infrastructure in the areas for which the funds have been granted. For some communities, this may take a few years. For other communities, this may take several years. The PUD is actively exploring ways in which it can deploy the necessary infrastructure as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.
As of July 2023, the PUD has so far received grant awards to deploy broadband to Boistfort, Ceres Hill (Bunker Creek Zone), Crego Hill (Bunker Creek Zone), Vader, Elbe, Mineral (Elbe Zone), Ashford (Elbe Zone), Randle, and Packwood.
For an update of the PUD's current broadband deployments in your area, please visit the PUD website at www.lcpud.org. For areas where the PUD has not yet received a broadband grant, please take a short survey which will provide us with information that helps us get grant funding.
Answer: Although the 2020 Washington State Legislature provided public utility districts (like Lewis County PUD) and port districts the ability to provide broadband services directly to residential and commercial customers, Lewis County PUD’s current plans call for a public-private partnership with internet service providers (ISPs).
The PUD’s plan utilizes an open access network model that has proven to be successful in other areas around the state and country: The PUD would build the fiber-to-the-premises (aka “fiber-to-the-home”) infrastructure as a publicly-owned open access network, which means that the infrastructure would be available for private internet service providers to connect end-users. By leveraging the expertise of private providers to directly serve customer broadband needs in an open access model so that multiple providers have the opportunity to serve an area, the PUD believes that this creates healthy competition. And with competition comes customer options, typically lower prices, and better customer service by ISPs.
As infrastructure is built in your area, you will receive communications from the PUD on how to sign-up for service.
Answer: No. The PUD’s cost-based electric rates are derived primarily from the cost of wholesale power and the operation and maintenance of the electrical system.
The PUD’s telecommunications and electric services operate on a not-for-profit basis. The PUD is customer-owned, which means there are no shareholders for whom profits must be generated. The revenue the PUD receives from its customers is used to operate and maintain the infrastructure that provides service.
FAQ for Broadband Survey
General questions regarding the broadband survey can be found here
Answer: The survey will only take about 5 minutes to complete and the information will be invaluable for your community to evaluate if the Internet needs of the community are being met and, if not, help to secure grant funds to build the infrastructure.
Answer: This survey requires providing your address so that we can ensure you live in an area where we collect survey information.
Answer: Absolutely not! The survey is for informational use only to identify areas that are unserved or underserved by current Internet services. There is absolutely no commitment or obligation attached.
Answer: Yes. As long as you can reach the survey/signup form we will receive your information. If you can connect to your home or business Internet service to take the survey, that is preferred.
Answer: If your address is not found, please send us a message through the contact tab at the top of the page. Our staff will review your address and get back to you.
Answer: If you want to update your survey answers, just take the survey again and it will replace the previous version on file. You'll need to use a different email address.
Answer: Only one survey per household/business will be accepted. If you live in an apartment building please include your unit number so we know it is a separate residence. If you run a business out of your home, you can submit a survey as a resident of the address as well as an additional survey for the needs of your business, just make sure you select the appropriate customer type at the beginning of the survey.
Answer: Data collected will be used as aggregate data to understand the broadband needs and opinions of the community. Additionally, data may be used to support grant applications to support getting funding to build a network in areas found to be unserved and underserved. Any information from the survey presented publicly or in applications will be aggregated data and will not include any personally identifying details.
Answer: This survey is only a data collection tool to understand your community’s broadband needs and to help secure grant funds to build the infrastructure. It does not mean there are any plans to build new infrastructure now. Once grant funds are secured for a community, we will reach out to residents in the build area with more information. If you would like to know more, please get in touch with us through the contact tab at the top of the page.