May 18, 2023
Sarah Highfield
Port Receives $1.1 Million Grant to Expand Recent Whitman County Fiber to the Home Project

Project will serve approximately 104 homes on outskirts of Palouse, Garfield, Oakesdale, Tekoa and Rosalia

WHITMAN COUNTY – The Port of Whitman County has received a $1.1 million grant award from the Washington State Broadband Office to build fiber infrastructure to approximately 104 homes on the outskirts of Palouse, Garfield, Oakesdale, Tekoa and Rosalia

The project expands on the recent five-city partnership between the Port and Ziply Fiber to build fiber internet in Whitman County. The grant award will bring fiber infrastructure to those homes that were not included in the first phase due to a prohibitive cost-per-home.  Construction is estimated to begin in fall 2023 and be complete by spring 2024.

The project will connect to open-access dark fiber infrastructure, meaning any internet service provider may compete and offer services over the network. Currently, Ziply Fiber, WiFiber, Inland Cellular, FirstStep Internet and IFN offer services in these five communities. Additional internet service providers can bring their business to the project area at any time in the future. 

The first phase of the Port’s fiber to the home project brought Gig speeds to an area that previously averaged .8 – 1.5Mbps over a copper system, depending on demand. The project garnered a higher-than-average 60% “take rate.” This means approximately 60% of residents have signed up for services since the project’s completion in 2021. Nationally, fiber broadband service has a 44% average take rate in areas where it is available, according to a 2019 report by the Fiber Broadband Association.

“We believe every resident of our rural towns in Whitman County should have access to competitive broadband services and speeds, whether you live on Main Street or the outskirts of town,” said Port Commission President Karl Webber. “The Port is excited to build on the success of our Phase 1 project and reach the remaining unserved homes on the outskirts of Palouse, Garfield, Oakesdale, Tekoa and Rosalia. We are very grateful to the Washington State Broadband Office for making this project possible.”

The project will be 100% funded by the Washington State Broadband Office grant. The Port’s in-kind match consists of its investment in the Phase 1 project.


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.