By Meg Olson
The Point Roberts Community Center on Gulf Road now has screeching fast internet service available for free, thanks to Whidbey Telecom as they begin introducing fiber optic service to the Point.
“This is kind of the tip of the spear to providing this service to the whole community,” chief marketing officer Chris McKnight said.
Making good on a commitment to bring fiber optic infrastructure to Point Roberts made when company representatives came to the annual general meeting of the local taxpayers association last year, McKnight said they had started by installing fiber optic internet cable from the border down Tyee Drive and along Gulf Road to the community center.
“We are starting with businesses and that builds the backbone,” McNight said. “I would love businesses on Gulf Road and Tyee Drive to know it’s there and to know the benefits. The more people show interest early on the better we can make a case for moving forward.”
At the community center they are showcasing what’s possible. “We provided them with the latest wireless technology so when you walk into that building you can connect for free to the latest and best technology,” McKinght said. “Our primary motivation was to provide our best service to the community and groups that use the space. A happy by-product of that is that people can see what we can do.”
The fiber optic service is faster and more reliable than technology currently deployed. The top speed available through the fiber optic infrastructure is 150 megabits per second (Mbps). “Right now it’s 50 Mbps is select areas and some people can only get 10,” McKnight said.
Currently the fiber optic service is available to businesses, and it will take time to install the underground infrastructure needed to service more of the Point. “Residential service is still down the road,” McKnight said. “We’re committed to upgrading our services in Point Roberts and will continue to do so over time. Timelines can be challenging due to indefinite timeframes that come along with obtaining permits, following procedures and protocols for development in archeologically sensitive areas (Point Roberts has a lot of these), and the impact of weather and ground conditions on construction progress.”