Sep 17, 2021
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Providing the best internet available throughout the Three Fingers area!
Over two hundred fifty (250) customers in the Three Fingers area will have access to some of the fastest internet in the world. Going from dial-up like speeds of ~1.5 Mbps to unlimited, symmetrical, 1000 Mbps dedicated fiber connections on PUD 3’s open access network will revolutionize communications and increase opportunities for residents. This project was will be completed through the USDA RUS ReConnect Program, in partnership with PUD 3’s Fiberhood Program.
In early 2020, PUD 3 was awarded a federal ReConnect grant to assist in construction of the Three Fingers fiber optic network. While we did experience some delays due to COVID and federal processes, we are now moving forward with this exciting but massive project.
There are many phases to a project this size and we plan to keep you updated as we move along. Currently we are in the “engineering” phase.
It will take a lot of time to engineer and complete construction to your area, but the final deadline to full project completion is April of 2026. However, we anticipate we will be complete much sooner than that.
To speed up the timeline and help our engineers plan ahead for the scope of the project, we are asking residents in the project footprint to let us know if they would like to be placed on the construction list for connection to Mason PUD 3’s gig-speed fiber optic network. Eligible properties received a letter and application in August 2021. If you are within the project area and you need another application, please email email@example.com.
This application will notify the engineers that you want to be included in the construction phase. They will schedule a site survey with you at your home and design a plan to install conduit for the fiber cable. Even if you are not planning to get connected right away, it is very important to submit your application now so that we can prepare the path for future fiber while our construction crews are in the area.
The Fiberhood application fee of $250 will not be billed until the connection phase of the project when it is time to install the fiber optic gateway on your home.
It sounds like a lot, but don’t worry, PUD 3’s teams are experts in this process! Over 2,500 homes and businesses around Mason County, in some of the hardest to reach areas, are now connected to the fiber optic network. When complete, you will be able to select from a handful of local internet providers to get symmetrical, unlimited gigabit (1000/1000 Mbps) internet; HDTV; and phone serve over the single fiber optic connection from PUD 3.
You will likely see PUD 3’s engineers, Stan and Cody, in your area over the next several years. There may be new paint markings on the ground which identify underground utilities and perhaps small wooden stakes. These aid in the design and safe construction of the fiber optic network. As we transition from design to construction, we appreciate your patience and potential traffic delays while our crews perform their work. Thank you for helping us to make safety a top priority.
Customers should be prepared for construction activity, increased road traffic, possible lane closures, and noise. PUD 3 will be installing new conduits underground to extend the fiber optic network to the area. The PUD will also be using a contractor for a portion of the project, so residents may notice work vehicles that do not have the familiar PUD logo on them. However, rest assured, PUD employees will be on-site overseeing the activities at each step of the way. We do ask residents to practice safe driving and social distancing around construction zones for worker safety. During construction, there may be a need to take short outages to ensure the line workers’ safety. If that is necessary, affected customers will be notified in advance.
Since this is part of a grant the PUD was awarded to extend its fiber optic network to an underserved area, the PUD must use a contractor to fulfill a portion of the grant's requirements. All work is overseen by PUD personnel.
PUD 3 was given the green light to begin engineering designs in Spring 2021. We anticipate the total project to take up to five years (April 2026), but we plan to be able to connect homes in stages as we work through the area.
Honestly, probably not as soon as you would like. This very large project will take time to design and construct, with many phases in several different neighborhoods throughout your area. Once we have the designs completed, we will install conduit at the road; then bring it to your home; then install the fiber optic cable in it and splice every strand together; then test each strand throughout the whole network; then install the gateway at your home. Describing it is the easy part. As you’ll see over the next few years, it will take many skilled craftsmen many dedicated, hardworking hours to get this lasting, future-proof network built. We must have the project completed in full by April 2026, but we will go neighborhood-by-neighborhood while we work towards that goal.
That’s a good question. COVID brought many of its own challenges and delays- some of which we are only starting to feel now (e.g. supply chain issues). The ReConnect program- and the ability for PUDs in Washington State to participate- was a “pilot project” through the USDA Rural Utility Services (RUS). This caused significant delays on their end, which impacted their ability to give PUD 3 the green light to get started. There were also Archaeological and Environmental Surveys and Notifications that had to be completed. We wish we could have gotten started sooner- but we’re on it now!
We see Fiberhood customers getting unlimited, symmetrical, uncapped internet at 1000/1000 Mbps for about $85/month. HDTV and phone services are additional. However, PUD 3’s fiber network is unique. It is an “open access” network, which means that you, as the end user, can select from a number of different retail internet service providers and their packages. These providers deliver the service over the single PUD 3 fiber optic cable and they bill you directly. If you want to switch, it’s easy- and you don’t need a new connection to your home.
The ReConnect grant covered a significant portion of the network construction and allowed us to consider the Three Fingers area for fiber expansion, but it does not cover all of the expenses. The Fiberhood costs cover the remainder as well as a portion of the operating costs of the network into the future.
You don’t have to get connected now. We will dedicate fibers to each parcel at the road. However, if/when you change your mind, you will be added to the queue and have to wait your turn. Sometimes that can be months. Our strong recommendation is to submit the Fiberhood application now. We will design and install a conduit path to your home so that it will be an expedited connection when you’re ready to get hooked up in the future. Only customers who are connected to the network and actively taking services pay the Fiberhood Construction Adder.
The Fiberhood program, in partnership with the ReConnect grant, cover most scenarios. However, each property may have unique challenges that we may not be able to accommodate. A customer may need to provide a conduit pathway under a landscaped area, driveway, or sidewalk; or perhaps may need to permit the use of an aerial installation. Our engineering team are well versed in identifying great solutions to get homes connected to fiber and to help customers find a path that works for them.
Fiberhoods are the bedrock of PUD 3’s fiber expansion program. You can learn more about Fiberhoods here: www.pud3.org/fiberhoods. The Three Fingers area does not need to sign up to reach the 75% goal; you’re already under construction!
Homes and businesses within the project area, which is primarily along Leffler Loop, Wilson Way, Stadium Beach West, Stadium Beach East, Robbins Road, Columbine Lane, Sublimity Lane, Orchid Lane, Green Way, Ruby Road, Stadium Beach East, Stadium Place, Stadium Lane, Fox Run Lane, Wild Grape Way, and connecting and nearby roads.