WALLA WALLA - After receiving a franchise from the city last month, Pocket iNet is now offering fiber optic connections downtown.
Company President Todd Brandenburg said this is the first time since his company started providing Internet service a decade ago that Pocket iNet has offered the service to an overall community, in this case the downtown area from Poplar to Rose streets and from Colville Street to Ninth Avenue. In addition, service is also available to businesses along Rose Street up to Key Technologies at Avery Street.
"Fiber optics are used to connect every single (larger) city in the country, but some of the rural cities have been left behind because of the unavailability," Brandenburg said.
At a City Council meeting last month, Pocket iNet was unanimously granted a franchise to use municipal poles to string its fiber optic lines for the next 10 years.
The advantage of using fiber optic over cable or DSL Internet lines is that once installed fiber optic lines can be adapted more readily to higher data rate transfers, and can reach upload and download speeds of one gigabyte per second, Brandenburg said.
In his comparison of cable and DSL to fiber optic, Brandenburg said, "it is kind of like a little cow path to a multi-interstate highway."
Pocket iNet will offer a 20 megs per second upload and download speed for about $49 per month, close to what other providers are charging, Brandenburg said. But he also pointed out he expects the greater savings to be for businesses needing higher data transfer rates of 100 megs per second or more. The company will also offer free installation for customers who sign three-year contracts.
While fiber optics may be new to local businesses, it is not new to Internet providers. The difference is fiber optic connections will be available to a large group of businesses within the downtown area, and the company plans to eventually expand to college and surrounding residential areas.
"The benefit of having fiber optic into the business is unlimited expansion, it is that you can go from 20 megs to 100 megs to a gig, and that expansion capacity will take you into the future," Brandeburg said.
Pocket iNet provides Internet services to 14 Eastern Washington and Oregon communities ranging from Connell to Yakima to Hermiston to Walla Walla.