Organization Public Utility District No. 1 of Benton County
Communities Covered Benton County
Goals of the Network

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The initial goal was simply to "bridge the digital divide" in our community. Providing fiber-optic based broadband services to schools, libraries, medical facilities, police/fire, city government was a core objective. As a public utility district providing electric service we do not have an official economic development role but it was assumed our fiber-optic network would stimulate business growth and that revenues from private businesses would provide the financial returns necessary to pay for the initial investment. We also believed operations of our electric distribution system would be improved through the increased amount of live operational data that could be transported over a higher speed connection to our substation automation system. Finally, it was also believed other private entities would follow our lead and build out their networks to provide an overall footprint in our county that would reach all who wanted high speed broadband services.

Goals Achieved

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Our core objective to build out to schools and other community partners was met. However, we have not generated nearly the levels of revenue that were expected from businesses using our fiber-optic network. The biggest barrier has been under capitalized retail service providers who do not have the means to extend fiber-optic lines off of our backbone network without significant credits from the PUD to offset initial capital expenses. End users of the system do not typically want to pay anything up front for constructing fiber-optic lines to their facility.

The Network's Impact
  • Impacted/impacting all four equally
Initial Investment Amount $24,000,000.00
Investment Covered We deployed the network in phases after paying for initial buildout
Source of Investment
  • Capital fund
Investment Repaid? We wrote off the initial investment
Services offered
  • Wholesale via open access network (ISPs sell retail)