Poulsbo has been known by several names.
The Suquamish people called it tcutcu lats.
The City of Poulsbo has “Viking City” on its logo.
Poulsbo residents know their city as Little Norway.
In the near future, Poulsbo may be widely known by another moniker: E-City.
The Kitsap Public Utilities District is building a wireless canopy over downtown, with the goal of expanding that canopy over the entire city. That means, free wireless access to the Internet.
The economic potential of such access is as broad as the imagination: More employment opportunities through telecommuting. More e-commerce. More new-business development. Emergence of new providers that could capitalize on rebroadcasting the signal, extending wireless service to a broader area.
To say a wireless canopy is a worthy investment is an understatement. According to the state Department of Commerce, gross business income from broadband-enabled e-shopping in Washington topped $3.1 billion in 2011. Also, 98.7 percent of the state’s residents live in areas where broadband is available, 83 percent live in households with Internet access and 73.8 percent regularly use their home broadband connection.)
We hope that other public agencies look for ways to partner with the public utility district to make a regional wireless canopy a reality. This is a timely venture as well, and one that Poulsbo and Kitsap County need to stay competitive in the economic opportunities they provide and in the quality of life they offer.
Because of the work of public and private broadband providers, more than 500 of the Washington’s 629 Census-designated communities saw increased access to broadband through wireline and/or wireless providers in 2012. Washington is now 10th in the nation for broadband access at 3 Mbps and third in broadband adoption.
“These statistics are encouraging and the result of some great work across the public and private sectors,” said Rogers Weed, director of the Department of Commerce. “Washington will need to continually improve its technology infrastructure to keep its place as a national innovation leader.”
The state and communities are making serious investments in “getting wired.” The state awarded $300,000 in grants to five organizations or public agencies — including a port district and a regional council of governments — to identify barriers to broadband access, develop private and public partnerships, and implement solutions. Amazing things are happening. One community is using expanded broadband access to improve economic development, public safety, tourism, research and educational opportunities over a two-county area.
And now, free Internet access is available anywhere in downtown Poulsbo. It’s only the start of something big. Read the Herald’s story, “Wi-Fi project could be start of something big.”