July 30, 2021
Port of Whitman County
The Port of Whitman County connects Rosalia to High-Speed Fiber-Optic Internet

Partnership between the public and private sector helped speed deployment, provide an opportunity for economic growth in the region

Colfax (July 30, 2021) — The Port of Whitman County today announced that high-speed fiber-optic Internet is now available in Rosalia, Washington. The Port partnered with Ziply™ Fiber to construct an open-access, fiber-optic network allowing residents n Rosalia to choose from several Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for internet service to homes and businesses. This infrastructure brings competition to the market as well as high-speed Internet.

Rosalia is the first of five rural towns in Whitman County to where fiber infrastructure is being installed as part of the Port’s efforts to help close the digital divide that exists in rural Whitman County. The other four towns include Garfield, Oakesdale, Palouse and Tekoa, which are under construction now and scheduled for completion by the end of October. Recently the Port received funding to build the same infrastructure in and around the Pine City Malden area.  The design for this work is underway and materials have been ordered.

“Residents and businesses in our Whitman County communities will benefit greatly from not only the significant upgrade that fiber provides when making video calls, uploading and downloading content, streaming entertainment and more but also the competition and ability to select from multiple providers,” said Kara Riebold, Chief Operating Officer at the Port of Whitman. “Closing the digital divide has never been more important and we’re excited for residents to select from several great providers who will offer services to our cities and towns.”

The Port of Whitman County has long championed the open-access model to promote competitive services for rural residents. The CERB (Community Economic Revitalization Board) of Washington supports the Rural Broadband Program awarding grants and opening the door for partnership opportunities with telecommunications providers.

"Partnering with the Port of Whitman County and expanding our fiber footprint helps us continue to push the fastest speed possible to the communities we serve. All internet service providers are seeing our customers’ increased dependence on fast and reliable connections. Partnerships like this with the Port of Whitman are helping us meet that need," said Marcus Munn, owner of WIFiBER. 

“We are more than excited to continue our successful partnership with the Port of Whitman and the CERB Program,” said Chip Damato, Executive Vice President of Inland Cellular/ Emerge Technologies. “It is the perfect blend of public/private cooperation to bring a proven, successful open access model. We are planning on taking the next step forward after activating 240 doors in Pomeroy Washington, under the same model, in a 6 month period. Most of these homes and businesses are the beneficiaries of gig speed internet service at affordable prices. The open-access model allows us to bring internet services to lower-income and public services organizations, that may not have been able to accommodate high-speed services. This model has proven to be outstanding and we are more than thrilled with the opportunity to serve and be a productive partner in the Rosalia and future communities to come.”

“We are very pleased to partner with the Port of Whitman on bringing high-speed Internet to the residents in Whitman County,” said Joe Savoy, Area Sales Manager for First Step Internet. “High-speed Internet has proven to be a vital necessity and this project will bridge the digital gap for many of the communities in Whitman County. We look forward to seeing how these communities prosper many years from now.” 

“The future of communities in Washington state is tied directly to their access to technology. We at Rodeo Internet/Rodeo Networks are extremely pleased to be part of the effort and to work with the Port of Whitman in their high-speed fiber project bringing advanced technologies to the towns and cities in the region” said Kelly Stovall-Raney, Chief Operating Officer of Rodeo Internet. “We look forward to serving the people of the area and the partnership with the Port”

Marcus Munn, Owner of WIFiBER, marcus@wifiber.net, (509) 720-8313

Chip Damato, Executive Vice President of Inland Cellular/ Emerge Technologies, damato@inlandcell.com, (208) 791-8775

Joe Savoy, Area Sales Manager for First Step Internet, jsavoy@fsr.com, (208) 882-8869 ext 435

Kelly STovall-Raney, Chief Operating Officer, kelly@rodeotv.net

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. 

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/.

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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.