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Tacoma-Based Rainier Connect Matches Wave Broadband Offer to Run the Click! Network

Last night Tacoma Public Utilities hosted the second of two town hall meetings on the future of its Click! network - specifically a proposal to sign a 40-year lease with Kirkland, Washington-based Wave Broadband. The crowd at this meeting sounds like it was calmer than the first meeting on the topic, though not necessarily more supportive of the deal.

On Wednesday, just ahead of last night's meeting, we received notice from Brian Haynes of Tacoma-based Rainier Connect that his company is also throwing its hat in the ring to run Click!.

Rainier Connect formally offers its proposal to invest in and operate the Click! fiber network with Tacoma Public Utilities. It is a public-private partnership with a public benefit.

Our proposal is a sincere effort to honor local priorities while providing superior service, local jobs and benefit for the broader community.

Rainier Connect is local, proven and connected. We look forward to continuing to serve the region, as we have since 1910. 

The Letter of Intent submitted by Rainier Connect to TPU lays out the local company's counter offer to the Wave proposal that went public earlier this month. Essentially Rainier Connect would see the Wave offer of a $2 million annual lease payment and $1.5 million annually in maintenance and upgrades to the existing network, and raises them with a $500,000 annual contribution to a program to provide low-cost internet access to low-income families.

That $500,000 annually would go to support "Family Connect," a partnership between Rainier Connect and the Tacoma Public Schools, which would provide free home internet access to the TPS guest internet network for the more than 20,000 students and their families who are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch. The program would provide access to the TPS network, and would create a program to provide devices to students who need them.

The letter lays out some key points of the Rainier Connect proposal (download the full Letter of Intent here):

  • TPU would retain the title to the system, and at the end of the term of the agreement would once again have full control over the system, including upgrades.
  • Rainier Connect would commit to maintaining local ownership for a minimum of 10 years
  • Rainier Connect would commit to upholding the principles of net neutrality
  • Voice-over-Internet telephone services would continue to be offered, with the addition of bundled phone-internet-cable TV packages
  • Rainier Connect would maintain existing arrangements for an institutional network for the City and the communities served today
  • Rainier Connect would maintain existing wholesale agreements and commit to an open access network with transparent and non-discriminatory pricing
  • At least 60 new jobs would be created in Tacoma
  • Rainier Connect would make a sincere effort to interview and hire all interested current Click! employees 
  • Rainier Connect would commit to a 90% one-call resolution for all its customers, and a 90% same-day on-site service response when necessary

It's just a letter of intent at this point, so nothing is set in stone, but what do you think of the Rainier Connect offer?


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