(Kitsap Sun (Bremerton, WA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 23--POULSBO -- The Kitsap Public Utility District is looking to expand its wireless Internet testing project in area downtowns by hiring contractors to study and install more antennas in Poulsbo and Winslow.
KPUD is looking for a third party to test which antenna would be best for the project as well as ideal locations for them.
It is free to the public, for now at least.
KPUD is not testing the wireless project with hopes of making a profit, said Steve Perry, superintendent of telecommunications.
"All options are on the table right now. Right now we are testing to see if it's sustainable or reliable enough to charge for," he said.
State law that requires public utility districts to sell the Internet at wholesale price to providers that offer it to consumers at retail prices.
If bids go out, KPUD will request that the Internet speed be between 4 to 30 megabytes per second, ideally at or close to 30, Perry said. The Federal Communications Commission defines fast Internet as 4 or more megabytes per second, Perry added.
The speed can vary depending on how many people are using the antenna or broadband line at one time.
Eventually, KPUD wants to have wireless testing done in six of the county's community hubs -- Poulsbo, Winslow, Port Orchard, Kingston, Bremerton and Silverdale.
Downtown Bremerton and the Silverdale area do not have any antennas.
KPUD would like to eventually expand its wireless contractor testing to all six areas, Perry said.
Poulsbo and Winslow will be the first, if KPUD's board approves the request for bids at Tuesday morning's meeting.
Popularity and demand with the current pilot test has grown to the point it is no longer a side project for KPUD, according to Steve Perry, KPUD telecom superintendent.
There are two antenna in downtown Poulsbo, one in Winslow, two in downtown Port Orchard and two in downtown Kingston. KPUD has been putting up the antennas and testing them for the past year, according to Perry.
During its year of initial testing, KPUD has learned the antennas can push a signal for up to a half-mile, but mobile devices might only be able to push a signal back at about 100 feet, so more antennas will be needed to complete the testing, which is where a contractor comes into play.
Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson said the city welcomes and supports any study and potential expansion for downtown wireless.
Poulsbo Councilman Ed Stern, who pushed for high-speed broadband last year in the city, says that extended high-speed Wi-Fi would provide the opportunity for people and businesses to work remotely.
Perry said KPUD's board will have to approve going to bid at Tuesday's meeting before the testing expansion can happen.
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