Wahkiakum West buys Skamokawa Internet to move to east county
April 28, 2022
Wahkiakum West has begun an expansion to the east side of Wahkiakum County with the purchase of Skamokawa Internet, adding about 200 customers to their base, as well as maintaining a relationship with SI’s founder, Steve Carson, who will remain as their agent in that market.
“To deploy fiber is expensive, and you need to be somebody who is in the fiberoptic business, which Steve [Carson] really wasn’t set up for that, especially in such a small market. It’s hard to recoup your capital and build the whole infrastructure for that small of an area,” WW CEO Ken Johnson said April 15.
“Internally the company decided to explore it,” he added. “We had some good conversations. We had conversations with the PUD down there; [Steve] was always part of that.”
Wahkiakum West asked if Carson was interested in partnering with them, and in the end, Carson asked if they would be interested in acquiring his business, and they agreed.
Wahkiakum West purchased the internet subscribers and the network, Johnson said, which Carson will continue to administer and support, but Carson retains his other business Computer Link NW.
“The only change customers down there should see immediately, is in June, they’ll start getting the invoice from us instead of from Skamokawa Internet,” Johnson said.
Johnson said that WW had about 1,000 customers prior to their purchase of Skamokawa Internet, which added accounts in Skamokawa, Puget Island, Cathlamet, and Little Cape Horn.
Carson said he was continuing to add people slowly and that he thought the partnership was a win/win for the community as well as for Wahkiakum West and Skamokawa Internet.
“The wireless internet was a great stop gap and it is going to continue for a while to cover some people that had no other options but once fiber comes through their neighborhood there is just no competing as far as what’s available,” Carson said.
"The important thing is what we’re building in Skamokawa and Cathlamet is really the state of the art for fiberoptic,” Johnson said. “It’s actually going to be better than what we offer to our own subscribers here, in many ways.”
“The network is capable of delivering up to 10 gigabits to every house,” he said. “The internet can’t keep up with that, so nobody is going to buy that right now. Our goal is that it will be relevant for the next 10-20 years and have the capacity we are going to start needing as our usage continues to increase.”
Johnson solicited potential customers through social media, community meetings, and word of mouth to solicit enough applications to support a project that will provide broadband to people living on SR 4 from Skamokawa to Cathlamet, and then on to County Line Park. Unfortunately, Johnson also said that they were unable to add customers in Cathlamet without a franchise from the town.
“We haven’t seen a first draft yet, and that could end up affecting folks in Cathlamet," Johnson said. "I just feel bad because we do have applications from people in the city limits and we will get stopped short of where their city line is until we can get that worked out. That’s the only complicating factor.
“Cathlamet might be getting left behind.”
The franchise matter was on the agenda at the Cathlamet Town Council's April 18 meeting; action was delayed so that the mayor and town attorney could go over the application.