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Little Norway approves first of last-mile solutions

POULSBO — The city council took one step closer to building a wide area telecommunication network this week when it unanimously approved a deal that will give Little Norway the first of the last-mile solutions.

Through the 10-year agreement, passed at the council’s March 5 meeting, the Kitsap County Public Utilities District (KPUD) will connect its fiber-optic backbone to and between the City of Poulsbo’s four outlying facilities (City Hall, Public Works, Police, Parks & Recreation). The backbone is a link to the Bonneville Power Administration fiber optic network that was built through Kitsap County in recent years in response to telecommunication problems local jurisdictions were experiencing. Poulsbo’s connection to the backbone is the first of its kind to take place.

In exchange for building the infrastructure for Poulsbo, the KPUD will be permitted to place wireless antennas on a number of city-owned facilities. The equipment will allow KPUD to sell services to the private sector.

The city will receive the infrastructure which, with an Internet service provider (ISP), it can set up a city-wide WAN. The WAN would be a high-speed connection between Poulsbo’s different city-owned buildings that will provide greater communication and improved Internet access.

The WAN is also expected to revolutionize the way Little Norway conducts business, especially compared to its current, outdated modes. In a number of instances, information sharing between buildings still takes place via hand delivery.

“There’s going to be a lot of efficiencies possible in the city through this,” commented Charles Keating of Professional Options, which has served as a consultant to city staff through the agreement process. “You’ll be able to connect to the finance server from Public Works and the connection will be as quick as if you were sitting in City Hall.”

Central Services Manager Dennis Bouffiou estimated the start-up costs for the WAN infrastructure to be a one-time expenditure of $6,300. For the first six months, the city will pay about $880 per month, which includes the $870 KPUD cost with an estimated 10 percent ISP mark-up. The cost is lower than normal because the City of Poulsbo is participating in a pilot program. After the pilot program rates have ended, Poulsbo will pay an estimated $1,500 per month.

David Jones of the KPUD said it’s important to note that Poulsbo will still have to find an ISP before the WAN can go forward because public utility districts are not legally allowed to provide service to jurisdictions. The KPUD will run “dark fiber” to the city buildings and a chosen ISP will “light” it.

“That is a big thing in our (Revised Codes of Washington) that we can’t have that kind of relationship with you,” Jones said.

The approved agreement will next go to the KPUD board for approval. The City of Poulsbo is expected to soon begin looking for an ISP to administer the WAN.

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