Seventeen applications for broadband in Northern Idaho have been given the green light after initially being denied, reports the Coeur d’Alene Press. Some of the $4.8 million in CARES broadband funding will be spent in the panhandle community of Kootenai County. Mike Kennedy, President of Intermax Networks, noted there are many plans underway, all aimed at bringing better connectivity to the region. “We’ve already got a number of projects in Kootenai County going,” said Kennedy. “Of the 17 applications, we have five that are close to completion, and then our Lone Mountain project is ongoing right now for a large new tower.”
“This pandemic changed many ideas about how much internet is needed at home,” Kennedy added. “Before, some people didn’t care about how much access they had. Now because of remote working and school transitioning online, it is critical.”
The Department of Commerce had set aside the funding for Idaho’s Broadband Grant Program. Since much of Idaho is considered to be underserved, the program was devised to provide financial assistance to public organizations so they can purchase and install broadband infrastructure, equipment and support services for communities that do not have adequate coverage. That state has said its goal is to improve distance learning, telehealth, public safety and e-commerce resources.
“These people are in critical need of connectivity in today’s world,” said Kennedy. “So the county and the state working together with us are trying to focus on those rural areas that often don’t get attention.”
Spectrum Internet, and subsidiary Charter Communications, explained they challenged the grants because they felt they infringed on their current service options in the county. The Department of Commerce officially denied the petition, clearing the way for broadband growth in northern Idaho.