Committee begins broadband research


Claire Ward, a representative from Northwest Open Access Network, or, addressed the Broadband Action Committee in Wahkiakum County that was formed to investigate ways to bring infrastructure and therefore better internet access to county citizens.

Improving the infrastructure would bring internet service providers, add value to homes, bring jobs into the community, more educational opportunities for students, or for those who want it, simply make streaming a movie that much easier.

The committee, made up of local decision makers, was formed by Gene Healy, a PUD commissioner, who has become passionate about the matter.

“This was borne out of the idea that there is a lot going on in rural broadband development and not much here,” Healy said.

Noanet is a non-profit municipal corporation, Ward said.

“We’re actually formed by public utility districts who had their own isolated fiber networks and they were used for their internal communications," Ward said. "They said, we have all this fiber for our PUD infrastructure, what if we were able to connect it and then we would have this really great statewide network. Serving the public is the core of everything we do. Today we have over 3,300 miles in the state of Washington in redundant loops serving over 300,000 end users who didn’t have any service before our network was made available and public.”

“You cannot compete in today’s digital world and digital economy if you don’t have access to the internet,” he said. “That is the driving force behind what we do. We want to see all communities, not just the metropolitan areas economically thrive.”

The official definition of broadband is considered to be 25 mbps for downloading and 3 mbps for uploading. Ward encouraged the attendees to dream big.

“Why even bother if you are not doing 100 symmetrical?”

It was just a start, but Ward gave the committee an overview of how they might begin to tackle the issue, and a lot to think and talk about.


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