Six Mason County Communities with sub-par access to high-speed internet will see a major upgrade thanks to a financial boost from the Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB).
This month, the CERB Board approved an application from Mason PUD 3 to fund Fiberhood programs at Panther Lake, Tiger Lake, Mission Lake, Dana Drive and Briscoe Point, Phillips Road, Totten Shores and surrounding areas. An estimated 675 homes and businesses are in these communities. Internet speeds in the Fiberhoods will be a symmetrical one gigabit per second (meaning, 1 Gbps download and 1 Gbps upload). The PUD has four years to complete the project.
The approved funding package proposes a $1 million low-interest loan and a $1 million grant. The local match is $689,000. Cost recovery for the project comes through a monthly construction adder fee, repaid over 12 years by those who receive service in these areas. As a public utility, it is the PUD’s intent to recover costs, not create a profit.
“PUD 3 is excited about the support we have received from CERB to extend high-speed internet to citizens who have suffered through no broadband, or substandard service,” said Justin Holzgrove, PUD 3 telecommunications and community relations manager. “Our public-private partnership is a great model. I’m pleased that CERB saw fit to support a second round of funding for our Fiberhood program. We’ll be working closely on this project with our internet service provider partners who use our wholesale, open access network to resell broadband services to end users.”
Mason PUD 3’s wholesale fiber optic network is a nondiscriminatory, open-access, net neutral service. PUD 3’s partners, internet service providers, sell gigabit speed internet, HDTV, special digital circuits, and phone services. The network provides for improved educational opportunities, telehealth services, economic development, and increased property values.
“CERB projects represent an important partnership between the state and local communities resulting in enhanced economic vitality,” said CERB Chair Randy Hayden. “The projects approved for funding represent the economic, cultural, and geographic diversity of our state. The board is pleased to collaborate with each of these communities to create permanent private sector jobs.”
“Broadband infrastructure is essential to improving connectivity throughout the state,” said Lisa Brown, director of the Washington State Department of Commerce. “These investments in rural broadband strengthen communities by enabling equal opportunities to take advantage of Washington’s overall robust economic growth.”
Kitsap PUD, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, and the ports of Bellingham and Sunnyside will also benefit from funds awarded for rural broadband projects.