Fiber Glossary

Rock Island Communications: A locally owned and operated Internet Service Provider (ISP) serving the San Juan Islands. The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of OPALCO with the express mission of providing San Juan County with the highest level of broadband service at the most cost effective price.

OPALCO: Orcas Power & Light Cooperative (OPALCO) is a member-owned, non-profit cooperative electric utility providing services to San Juan County since 1937.

Fiber Optic Broadband: Fiber optic technology converts electrical signals carrying data to light and sends this light through transparent glass fibers about the diameter of a human hair. Fiber transmits data at speeds far exceeding current DSL or cable modem speeds, typically by tens or even hundreds of Mbps.

DSL Broadband: DSL is a wire-line transmission technology that transmits data over traditional copper telephone lines already installed to homes and businesses. DSL-based broadband provides transmission speeds ranging from 10 to 25 (Mbps) in San Juan County, but averages about 4Mbps county-wide.

LTE or Fixed Wireless Broadband: LTE Fixed wireless is a technology for getting fast and reliable broadband to locations within the county too expensive to deliver fiber to the premises. Fixed Wireless broadband utilizes the speed and coverage of a 4G (LTE) network using licensed wireless spectrum to deliver broadband connectivity.

Middle Mile: A term used to describe the length of fiber running from the nearest fiber optic backbone location to and through your neighborhood or group’s development.

Last Mile: A term used to describe the length of fiber running from the nearest Middle Mile location to your home.

Incentive Program: Rock Island is currently offering a last mile incentive program to those who connect to our network. Our incentive structure is specifically designed to encourage communities and groups to work together with us to find the best, most cost-effective solution for your area. Our Construction Incentive pays up to $1,500 on Rock Island equipment and Rock Island labor. This credit goes toward your last mile build cost and usually makes your last mile equal to the cost of excavation.

Power Grid Control Backbone: The original fiber optic network built by OPALCO starting in 2001 to control and monitor the electric grid systems through the San Juans. Rock Island connects your middle mile and last mile to this backbone in order to provide internet service to San Juan County.

Island Network: The original fiber optic network department within OPALCO established in 2001. This was spun out from OPALCO in 2014 and became what is now Rock Island Communications.

NewCo: A legacy term used exclusively in the planning phase of establishing Rock Island Communications by OPALCO. This appears in documents pertaining to this initiative during that period.

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