CERB funds awarded for Fiber-to-the-Premises and Rural Fiber Extensions in Whitman County
Colfax (July 15, 2021) — The Port of Whitman County was awarded $1,734,921 from the Washington State Department of Commerce’s Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) to design and construct a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTX) network around Pine City and Malden in Whitman County.
The project timeline states that the design is expected to be completed by the end of 2021 and will overlap with obtaining permitting approvals. The expected start of construction is in early 2022. “Construction is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2022,” says Joe Poire, executive director for the Port.
The estimated total cost of the project is $2,168,651. The Port has committed a $433,730 local match for the CERB Rural Broadband Program grant. The additional $1,734,921 in projected project costs is the awarded grant from CERB.
After fires in the fall of 2020 devastated the area, the community continues to work to rebuild their town. As they rebuild, infrastructure including broadband will shape the communities. Broadband access will mean e-learning, work-from-home, business, telemedicine and other digital opportunities can once again become viable options for residents who want to enjoy the rural aspects and quality of life that the communities provide.
The investment of the CERB funds by the Department of Commerce will support the extension of the Port of Whitman County’s open-access broadband fiber-optic network. Constituents from the rural communities in Whitman County frequently approach the Port to ask for help in meeting their telecommunications needs and that the remote nature of these communities makes it even more important for their citizens to have access to reliable, high-speed Internet services to support their needs for information, education, conducting business, healthcare, and safety. The Port of Whitman County maintains a strong focus on ensuring residents and businesses have access to high-quality and affordable broadband services. "The addition of the CERB funds will allow the Port to continue to address this infrastructure problem," says Poire.
Additional information on the Port of Whitman County’s telecommunications network can be found at https://www.portwhitman.com/broadband.
For more information on CERB and the Rural Broadband Program visit https://www.commerce.wa.gov/building-infrastructure/community-economic-revitalization-board/rural-broadband/.
About the Port of Whitman County
The Port of Whitman County is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all citizens of Whitman County through industrial real estate development, preservation of multi-modal transportation, facilitation of economic development and provision of on-water recreational opportunities.
RCWs 53.08.005, 53.08.370, and 53.08.380 allow Ports and PUDs to build telecommunications infrastructure and offer it wholesale to service providers. Under these provisions, the Port has worked to develop a telecommunication plan and infrastructure to facilitate enhanced telecommunications services countywide. The Port works with telecommunications providers to build infrastructure that helps local providers enhance telecommunication services offered to rural communities.
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