SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Don't Sell KPU Telecom
By Mike Harpold


March 16, 2010

Saying that the KPU Telecommunications Division is losing profitability, the city wants to sell it. But voters need to ask if selling the utility is truly in the best interests of city residents.

Selling KPU Telecom will likely result in higher costs for TV, telephone and Internet services in Ketchikan. Today, because of competition between KPU and GCI, customers of both companies enjoy among the lowest rates in the state, and KPU customers at least, have low cost broadband Internet service, and IPTV. Those advantages could end with the sale of the utility.

The city manager cites competition with GCI as the reason for diminished KPU profits, pointing out that soon Telecom Division profits may no longer be available to subsidize the water and electric divisions. But the Telecom Division is still being operated at a profit. And much of the lost KPU revenue, estimated to be $1 million to $1.5 million a year, is money that is staying in local businesses and Ketchikan resident s wallets.

In the meantime, KPU remains strong, retaining over 7,000 telephone lines to GCI s 2,000. Since the hiring of a new marketing director and the opening of an office in The Plaza, KPU has enjoyed a robust net gain of 25 to 30 new subscribers each month, and now serves over 1,000 households with TV and Internet as well as telephone.

KPU Telecom was the first sizeable company in Alaska to digitalize its entire network, completing installation of a voice over Internet protocol soft switch router in 2005. The staff has been IP trained. The utility is in the third of a five-year program to extend fiber optic cable to every home. The line is capable of handling the next generation 1,000 mg, gigE, requirements. In 2002 and 2006, the utility purchased cellular spectrum to support the future needs of cellular personal computer services.

At a time Ketchikan is struggling to attract new businesses and residents, KPU Telecom offers relocation advantages in the form of low rates and up to date information technology that are more favorable than in any other community in Alaska.

Why would we sell?

Mike Harpold
Ketchikan, AK

About: " Mike Harpold served on the Ketchikan City Council from 1998 to 2001."

Received March 16, 2009 - Published March 16, 2010



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