Brinnon Internet plan underway

Viviann Kuehl,
Posted 12/13/16

Brinnon community high-speed Internet service could be in place by the summer of 2017, according to project organizers.

A nonprofit community broadband corporation, built for and by the Brinnon …

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Brinnon Internet plan underway


Brinnon community high-speed Internet service could be in place by the summer of 2017, according to project organizers.

A nonprofit community broadband corporation, built for and by the Brinnon community, has been presented to 125 residents. About 200 people have signed up on the entity's website, expressing interest in the service, said West Canal Community Broadband Project organizers.

“There’s no obligation, but it lets us see where you’re at. It’s kind of important at this stage of the game,” said organizer Robert Gash at a public meeting last week in Brinnon.

To finalize the design and take advantage of cost savings in installation, presenters Phil Thenstedt and Gash said they need to know exactly where potential subscribers are located to determine the final design and give the community a specific, realistic cost of service.

“We’ve done our homework, and pretty much have the technical side scoped out. We know it’s possible. In the end, this will come down to money, as it always does,” according to a written statement from project organizers.

“Our goal is to help bring our community broadband, which is becoming an increasingly critical part of our lives. However, because we're in the middle of the woods, we don't have a lot of choice. If you're lucky, you have a slow DSL connection. Most of us are stuck with pay-as-you-go wireless or satellite services. They're expensive, slow and have prohibitive usage restrictions,” according to the West Canal Community Broadband website,

Thenstedt, a nine-year Brinnon resident who works from home, said Internet service has become increasingly unreliable, slowing and stopping to the point of interfering with his ability to work.

Partnering with Gash, they looked at network options, coverage, cost involved and funding sources, with a goal of 25 mbps without data limits.

Recognizing the need for Internet service in rural communities, a federal grant provided high-speed Internet to “anchor institutions,” such as the Brinnon School and the Brinnon Community Center, but did not extend to residential service.

“If you go down to the community center and go online, it’s pretty fast, considerably better than any of us can get at home,” said Thenstedt. “We’ve spent the last two years trying to figure out how to get to residential service.”

The answer seems to be a wireless system. The signal, at least one full gigabit, would come in from the east, the Seabeck area, to Mount Jupiter in the Olympic Mountains.

At least three tiers of service are proposed to meet community needs. All tiers meet the latest FCC requirements for broadband service, according to the website.

“All you need to receive a signal is an antenna, which can be mounted on your house, a pole or even a tall tree. The setup is not free, but it’s not tremendously expensive,” said Gash, showing a $90 antenna for basic service setup. More service would incur more costs.

The wireless system requires a line of sight to Mount Jupiter towers or a connection to somewhere with that line of sight.

“Before we can finish designing the network, we need to know where our potential subscribers live,” said Gash. “Signing up now helps us build a better network, and it will be cheaper because we only want to put up equipment once, to keep the cost down.”

The service cost would drop when the equipment is paid off, said Gash.

A design and financial plan is expected be presented early in 2017.

“It’s really going to help everybody if we all jump in at once,” said Thenstedt. “If a lot of people sign up, there’s no reason we couldn’t have it all done in two months.

The initial plan is to only offer Internet access, due to regulatory factors and wanting to keep things simple. The security framework is the same as with HughesNet, a satellite technology service provider, the presenters noted.

One of the attendees was Jim Boldt, who lives in Mason County near Hama Hama, where there is no Internet access.

“We’re looking forward to your success, and then you can bounce the signal to us," Boldt noted.


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