Broadband Is Finally Arriving - Sign Up Now!

 04/29/2023 -  WCCBP -  ~3 Minutes


Since we got started in 2016 almost all of our postings have been appeals for help. We’re delighted to share some big news this morning that the Hood Canal Communications team hinted at a few weeks ago:

Broadband arrives in Brinnon by Fall 2024!

What does this mean?

If you’ve lived around here for a while, you know the struggle we’ve had with broadband.

While we have a few different options available today, they’re either expensive or not available to everyone. Hood Canal’s network is different: it’s fiber to your house. Trees don’t interfere. It’s the same technology used to serve big neighborhoods in the cities, so it has the capacity to deliver good speed all the time.

On top of the speeds, it’s also cheaper than any 25/3 service we can buy today, and doesn’t have download caps.

What services are available?

Hood Canal Communications is a full service Internet, TV, and phone provider, and plans to offer all of its services. We’re going to focus on broadband.

Rigth now, HCC plans to offer several different speed tiers at different price points. The most expensive is a full gigabit (1000/1000) connection, which is which is great if you work remotely or have a big family.

Slower speeds – which are still faster than most service today – are available for lower prices. We typically recommend you buy at least 100/20 service if there are more than 2 people in your home or you watch streaming TV (Netflix).

There will also be accessibility grants (discounts) available for those who qualify. Look for more news here as the Jefferson Broadband Action Team works to secure funding and announces details.

How do you sign up?

Click here to join the waitlist on Hood Canal’s site.   Joining the waitlist is free (you don’t need a credit card) and does not obligate you to subscribe. However, knowing you’re interested helps Hood Canal with their planning.

There is another important reason to sign up early: the state and federal grant money isn’t unlimited. Early signups will have installation costs paid by the grant. Folks who sign up after 2024 may need to pay for the installation out of pocket.

Help needed from HOAs!

If you live in a neighborhood with an HOA (e.g. OCT, Lazy C, etc.) we also need to know how to contact your board. Hood Canal is intersted in talking to your HOA president and board to discuss any access agreements that may be required on community-owned property. We’re working to collet the list for them, so please Email us at [email protected] .

-Robert, Phil, and Jim

2023 Brinnon Town Hall and Fiber Updates

 03/13/2023 -  WCCBP -  ~2 Minutes


It’s been a little while since our last update, but things are moving, if a bit slowly. There are, however, some exciting updates.

First, if you live in Mason County between Eldon and the county line, fiber has arrived! Hood Canal Communications is starting installations. To get in line, sign up on their website   . Several speeds are available, and if you’re new to shopping for Internet service, this Consumer Reports   guide is a great way to estimate how much speed you need. We usually recommend at least 100-megabit service if you watch TV online or regularly teleconference. Slower tiers can work fine for only occasional use.

Second, if you live in Jefferson County like most of us, the teams at Mason PUD1 and Hood Canal Communications have been working hard to get ready for our phase of the project. There has been a slight delay statewide with grant money, but things are starting to move again. Work is expected to start this summer with new power poles needed to hold the fiber. Our best estimate is that service installations start in 2024. We talk with both teams regularly and will update you as things move along.

Third, if you have not seen the announcement in last month’s Brinnon Crier, there will be a town hall this coming Wednesday (3/15) from 6-8pm at the community center. The agenda is packed, and most of our elected officials will be attending. Hood Canal Communications and I will also be there to help answer questions on the Internet work, alongside a lot of other projects too. Join us if you want to learn more or just say hi!

-Robert, Phil, and Jim

2023 Update + Mason PUD1 Grant Letters

 01/06/2023 -  WCCBP -  ~2 Minutes


It’s been a while since our last big news, but we wanted to tell you what is happening with broadband around here.

WE NEED HELP if you live south of Mt Walker – basically Brinnon to Hama Hama Oyster. As we announced in 2022, grants were approved to bring fiber all the way to Mt Walker, but the first plan missed some utility poles that need to be replaced. Mason PUD1 needs more funding to fix them. If you can, PLEASE SEND A LETTER like the one below to the commissioners and the state. Time is short, so do not wait.

Update: We have been asked to send all letters to Kristin, the GM of Mason PUD1, so she can include them in her grant request. Please CC her directly!

Kristin :

I am writing in support of the recent Mason PUD1 grant request to support the Brinnon Broadband project along the Hood Canal. Our area has the fewest broadband choices of any of our nearby neighbors that are receiving upgraded service, and assisting with pole replacement costs will also help many other utilities, including our power and telephone services. I’d formally like to request your organization’s support of matching funding to help Hood Canal Communications and Mason PUD1 with the final funding needed to connect our community.

Thank you for considering our community and helping us avoid another decade without connectivity.

The last thing you can do is to help fix the FCC broadband map   . The older map often says we have service when we don’t. If you search for your address and see a company claiming you get service when you don’t, send them a challenge! Bad data makes bad decisions, and highlights how many of us were left behind (and hidden by companies.)

Feel free to forward this to everyone you know who might be interested, and if they would like to join our list, encourage them to sign up at   . If you have Jefferson PUD electric, check their map for project plans   . Be sure to sign up for service early (no cost). If you wait too long and grant funds run out, you might have to pay to connect!

We hope you had a great holiday!

-Robert, Phil, and Jim

2022 Updates: NTIA Funding Approved!

 03/06/2022 -  WCCBP -  ~2 Minutes

It’s been almost 6 years since the organizers of our group and I first met to discuss connectivity in Brinnon. None of us knew at the time how much hard work it would take to get (and stay) connected. We’re delighted to share our biggest news so far:

The NTIA approved grants to bring broadband to Brinnon!

The $30MM grant, co-sponsored by the WA State Broadband Office   , included two Jefferson County projects.

Service is expected be online in 2023 or 2024, and these grants are designed to pay for the line to your door. We expect speeds up to a gigabit (1000 down / 1000 up). These speeds are so fast, your home WiFi probably can’t keep up!

We’re very excited about the news, but the journey isn’t over. Inflation and supply chain problems mean we’ll probably need more grant money than planned and could delay the launch dates. That said, once fiber shows up in our area, it’s good for everyone!

We will share more in a future update when you can pre-register for service.

Project Areas

Note: We are still working with Jefferson PUD on fiber access at the Duckabush station. They previously announced this in 2021 at our town hall meeting, but delayed/cancelled the project without explanation. We’ll share more about this step in a future update.

2021 Town Hall Meeting Recap

 08/21/2021 -  WCCBP -  ~7 Minutes

Brinnon Broadband Town Hall Recap

This past Wednesday, we hosted a town hall here in Brinnon. We were honored to be joined by several guests, including:

The headline story is that Mason PUD1 and Hood Canal Communications are partnering to build a new fiber network which will reach most residents between Hama Hama Oyster Co and Mount Walker. Jefferson PUD also shared their previously announced projects in Quilcene and Discovery Bay to serve folks north of Mt Walker.

Russ shared that the state is prioritizing areas like Jefferson County due to the lack of service. They have already approved major funding for the Hood Canal extension from Hama Hama Oyster Company to Brinnon. Mason County has also approved county funding south of the county line, meeting the requirements for local matching funds.

With continued community involvement, we have a real chance for fast, affordable, and reliable broadband for years to come.

Notes From the Meeting

Introduction (by us)

  • Who are we?
    • We’re a group of neighbors who live in Jefferson and Mason Counties dedicated to improving Internet access in our community.
    • Our goal is to connect unserved areas within our area
    • Service must be affordable, reliable, and fast enough for a family to use
    • No options exist today which can meet all three goals
  • Why is service so bad?
    • We were skipped when the major statewide broadband network was built in the 2000’s (NoaNET)
    • There is no fiber connectivity nearby. The closest connections are Quilcene and Hama Hama Oyster Company.
    • Without fiber nearby, all providers must beam service from far away (Kitsap or northern Jefferson County). Long distances mean slower and less reliable service.
    • As family needs and technology requirements change, speeds need to increase. None of the current services here can meet this growth.
    • No current service is reliable, affordable, or is too slow to be considered broadband.
      • Services do not meet advertised speeds in the evenings, when most people use them.
      • No services meet the new Washington State target of 100 / 20 (download / upload), or the future goal of even faster speeds. This will be needed over the next 5-10 years.
    • 5G will not improve cellular dead zones, and is not fast enough for household Internet usage in rural areas.
    • Starlink may be a good choice for some who have a large plot, but trees, buildings, and mountains will block service for many. Startup costs are also expensive (>$500.)
  • We need to speak up to ensure we aren’t skipped with the latest federal funding.

Guest Presentations

  • Washington State Broadband Office
    • Our area is a major focus, as many new technologies 5G won’t serve rural areas
    • Small counties (<50k residents) are a priority, Jefferson County qualifies.
    • Working with MPUD1 and JPUD to prioritize grants
    • Federal funding is focused on hard to reach areas, and we expect enough funding to reach almost everyone, even if it was too expensive under previous rules (NOTE: This is really great news for rural areas like ours!)
  • Jefferson PUD
    • Building two networks in Quilcene and Discovery Bay
    • Depends on grant approvals from state and federal government
    • Fiber to the home services start with 100/100 service, with gigabit speeds (1000 megabits) or faster available
    • Jefferson PUD, the BPA, and Mason PUD1 will be tapping into fiber at the Duckabush station in October. This is a major step to help all projects in the area.
    • More details on the Jefferson PUD Broadband Project website  
  • Mason PUD1 and Hood Canal Communications
    • MPUD1 is partnering with HCC to build a new fiber-to-the-home network
    • Fiber to the home, capable of gigabit speeds (1000 megabits) or faster
    • Mason County has funded extension from Hama Hama Oyster to Mike’s Beach Resort (three miles south of the county line)
    • State Broadband Office has approved funding for Brinnon area, but more funding is needed
    • Waiting on final federal grant approval

Questions and Answers

  • When will these networks be ready? Why can’t they be done sooner?
    • Many utility poles need to be replaced before they can add new fiber. This takes time and extra money.
    • No firm timelines yet, but if funding is approved, construction may start in 2022
    • Even if funding is not approved in the first wave, more funding is coming later in 2021-2022
  • What will the costs of service be?
    • Generally much less expensive than wireless/cell/satellite
    • Service should be 2-25x faster, won’t slow down at night, and cost you less than you pay now (sometimes less than half)
    • HCC provided flyer with costs (gigabit $85/month)
    • See slide deck for North Olympic Datacenter pricing (fiber costs are for Port Townsend residents)
  • Will people with long driveways get service?
    • JPUD grants apply to everyone, regardless of long driveways, although some extreme situations may require discussion with homeowners
    • MPUD1/HCC may require home owners to pay for installation, depending on driveway length and whether your utilities are underground
    • Grant funding will determine how much (if any) owners must pay to connect. Some grants provide more coverage than others.
  • What happens if your power is underground?
    • Digging is ~3x more expensive
    • MPUD1/HCC grants cover everyone in service areas, but digging takes more time, and the homeowner may need to pay for some installation costs
    • MPUD1 is working to reduce these costs by installing service when already working on other projects (a “dig once” approach)
  • Will the Black Point resort build service or help with this project?
    • These projects do not depend on the resort
  • Do you need a phone line to get the new service?
    • No. Fiber is a brand new network, so you do not need to have any existing service today.
  • What can we do to help?

Press Intro

The communities west of the Hood Canal are in an internet desert. Most residents have either no way to reliably or affordably access the internet. Where some service exists, it’s limited and does not meet the needs of most families. Five years ago, a group of neighbors formed the West Canal Community Broadband Group. “Bring us broadband” is the cry.

The meeting at the Brinnon Community Center greeted over forty people on a warm summer night and competed with a salmon recovery meeting at the same time down the road. Salmon and broadband are important issues for the folks in this rural part of Mason and Jefferson counties.

It was not unexpected, but ironic that when State Broadband Office director Russ Elliot tried to a Zoom call into the group’s Wednesday evening “summit” there was not enough bandwidth to carry the connection. He had to use a 20th century conference telephone call instead.

Representatives from Mason PUD 1, Jefferson PUD, The State Broadband Office and Hood Canal Communications updated the attendees about state and federal funding and ongoing and upcoming programs from deployment of fiber optic cable to internet connectivity.