Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Port eyes high-speed internet options


July 5, 2018 | View PDF

Whitman County Port Commissioners discussed ongoing efforts by the Port and the Washington Legislature to expand high-speed internet access to rural areas throughout the state at their bi-weekly meeting Thursday, June 21.

Port Executive Director Joe Poire attended a meeting the prior week in Pomeroy with Gov. Jay Inslee, District Representative Mary Dye, local officials and economic development managers last week in Pomeroy concerning increased internet access for rural towns in Washington.

At the meeting, Inslee voiced support for the legislature's appropriation of $10 million to the Community Economic Revitalization Board for use by cities, counties and port districts in the state to pursue broadband infrastructure projects like those of Whitman County.

Kara Reibold, chief operating officer for the Port, reported Inslee commended Whitman County's construction of a “dark fiber” network and called upon other jurisdictions across Washington to follow a similar model.

The Port of Whitman began constructing the network in 2011 using $12 million in federal stimulus funding and $1.8 million of Port revenue. The network is now used by 14 private companies and spans 240 miles across six counties and two states, according to Poire.

Dark fiber networks provide the essential groundwork for high-speed internet access, which saves private firms money and incentivizes them to build upon the existing infrastructure to create the “last mile” of connection to customers.

Two internet service providers are prepared to vie for contracts from the Port to provide broadband access to the area using the county's dark fiber network, according to Reibold. Request for proposals (RFP) must be submitted to the Port by July 16 and will be reviewed Sept. 20.


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