Broadband outreach is coming to Okanogan County and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Washington State. The population of 42,000 has formed a Broadband Action Team (BAT) and drafted an RFP to help establish this goal, reports Community Networks.
The BAT is seeking a firm that can work with their unique challenges and set up a digital connection that will keep residents informed and competitive with the rest of the state.
As the RFP states, “Much of Okanogan County, including the Colville Reservation within Okanogan County, is plagued with high unemployment, excessive poverty, and an absence of quality of life amenities that have proven to be undesirable to most residents and insurmountable barriers to 21st century economic and community development.” Broadband is expected to provide opportunities that the waning mill industry cannot.
Setting up a County and Tribal Broadband Strategic Plan is the first step to extending broadband services to the region’s most rural residents. There is a 150-mile fiber option network that already runs through the county, operated by the Okanogan Public Utility District. Fiber-to-the-Home and fixed wireless connections exist. However, ISPs that extend that last mile to subscribers have not extended into the Colville Reservation.
A grant from the state’s Department of Commerce’s Community Revitalization Board has been matched by Okanogan County. A firm has yet to be selected.
December 2, 2019