PORT TOWNSEND — Some internet providers in Jefferson County may see their service rates change as Jefferson County Public Utility District upgrades and expands its network this year.
Proposed changes to the utility’s wholesale rates — the rates charged to internet service providers for using JPUD’s network — were presented at a special meeting of the PUD’s commissioners Tuesday but have not been approved.
Proposed rates included changes to existing rates and potential rates for new products offered by the PUD.
According to Broadband and Communications Director Will O’Donnell, customers currently using PUD’s network are paying a wide variety of rates for different services depending on when they first joined the network.
With the construction on upgrades and expansion underway, O’Donnell said the utility wanted to standardize its rates and speeds.
That means some internet service providers may see a rate increase for using PUD’s network while others will see their rates go down as the utility standardizes its services. The utility is offering only a small selection of rates and speeds, but it hopes to have private internet service providers pay to use the physical network to provide a wider array of services to customers.
“We just want to have one standardized product and speed,” O’Donnell said.
“We’re only setting the wholesale price. What the ISP chooses to charge the end user is up to them.”
For customers connected to the utility’s active ethernet system, the PUD is proposing charging a flat rate of $80 a month for speeds of 1 gigabyte per second. Rates discussed Tuesday covered only access to the PUD’s network and not the cost of internet service, which can be provided by a private company.
“There are about 40 businesses or so who, because they’ve been hooked up at various speeds and at various rate classes for the last seven years, those rates are all over the place,” O’Donnell said at the meeting. “We want to put them all on one rate at one speed.”
However, one internet service provider said such a change would force the company to drastically raise rates on its customers.
“I’m going to have to raise their rates as much as three times as they pay now just to cover the cost of that,” said Leo Boyd, chief technical officer at North Olympic Peninsula Data Centers.
Proposed rates detailed Tuesday varied by type of connection and speed and apply to qualified internet service providers using PUD’s network. A full list of proposed rates is available in the meeting’s agenda packet.
Internet service providers interested in using PUD’s network are able to apply online, but O’Donnell said because of the utility’s focus on constructing the network, new applications wouldn’t be considered until later this year.
At various points in the meeting, O’Donnell said the proposed rates were subject to change and that the PUD would have to work with internet service providers to find rates that worked for both the companies and the utility.
Proposed rates were the result of multiple analyses done for the various grant applications the PUD went through to secure funding for the network, O’Donnell said, and were crafted to help fund the building of the physical network.
Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.