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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Fiber to the World

By Joe Ashcraft

May 24, 2019
Friday PM

The agenda for a recent city council meeting listed the discussion of a fiber optic connection to be owned and operated by the city of Ketchikan’s KPU.

In the late 90’s such a spur from a fiber run at that time was rejected by KPU as unnecessary.  Seaport Tel was blocked from implementing fixed wireless in the downtown area around year 2000 via satellite.  APT was blocked from landing fiber on the island shortly thereafter, and GCI was stymied for a while as well.  I was told to face that these efforts were so as to maintain the KPU monopoly.  

Later I was alerted by insiders that KPU was not planning to run fiber along with the TYEE project and was asked to question that omission. They were aghast; I couldn’t believe my ears; it was and is unheard of not to run fiber when running power.   I did contact KPU management on that issue, and was informed that the cost of the fiber run along with the power lines would be greater than the money allotted for the project would allow, that the EPA would require more analysis, that the weight would be too much for the towers, and perhaps other excuses that made just as little sense to me as the need for roll out of fiber at this point in time.

With the proven technology of broadband over the power lines; with OneWeb and Space X already having some Low Earth Orbit high throughput satellites up and working and expected rollout in Alaska first; with Amazon, Norsat, and Telesat purchasing spectrum for the same LEO delivery and at fiber speeds with even less latency; with Hughesnet and Viasat both supplying failover redundancy; it would seem that there will never be a return on investment for major long distance fiber connections from this point forward.  

In refusing to embrace the oncoming technology in the late 1990’s, and in blocking other companies from implementing such in Ketchikan, then trying to piecemeal alternative methods such as connections by copper and microwave through Canada and Prince Rupert Telcos, KPU management put its constituency 20 years behind in the digital age.  And the idea of this new fiber is that same 20 years behind, and perhaps not an example of better late than never.

The ignorance and arrogance and lack of vision displayed by management of KPU over decades should be cause for the city council to closely examine the oncoming satellite, powerline, and other technologies that in all probability will outstrip fiber in most of the world.

Joe Ashcraft
Seaport Telecommunications  
Ketchikan Alaska


Editor's Note:

The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.


Received May 23, 2019 - Published May 24, 2019

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