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High-speed Broadband Coming to All Corners of Washington
Aug 18, 2010 (03:08 PM EDT)

$185 million project will serve 170 communities and 2,000 schools, hospitals, emergency response agencies, libraries, colleges and universities

TACOMA, Wash., Aug. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet) announced today it has received a second federal grant to extend high-speed broadband service to nearly every unserved area of the state.

"This broadband initiative will create immediate jobs, attract economic investment to rural areas, and provide reliable, high-speed internet access to schools, libraries, emergency responders, hospitals, government agencies, businesses and individuals," said Greg Marney, Chief Executive Officer of NoaNet.

"Imagine a rural doctor being able to instantaneously share a patient's test results and consult with an expert at any major medical center in the world.  It's a big deal for rural Washington."

The $185 million program received a second federal broadband technology opportunity program grant today of $54 million that all told will construct more than 1,300 miles of new fiber capable of delivering enhanced, affordable broadband service to 55 economically depressed communities, passing 538,559 households and 103,230 businesses across 25 of Washington's 39 counties.

"This is a game-changer for many communities," Marney said.  "It just like when electricity was finally extended to rural communities in the 1930s and 1940s.  Broadband will help save lives, reduce government costs, help educate young people, and create business opportunities."

Remote areas often have only the most rudimentary capabilities needed to share critical information among fire, police, hospitals and first responders.  Additionally, businesses are reluctant to relocate or expand in areas that are not served by broadband connectivity.

"This program will revolutionize the services libraries will be able to offer communities across the state. People from vulnerable populations, the 'have nots,' will be connected with the world of the 'haves.' This is truly exciting news for the people of rural Washington," said Jan Walsh, Washington State Librarian.

The new broadband service will make life-saving enhanced 911 services available to virtually every inhabited location in the State.  The ability to transfer real-time data over wireless networks will allow EMTs to communicate with hospital physicians en route from injury sites and dramatically improve response times when receiving medical treatment in the "golden hour" after injury improves chances of survival by 90 percent.

The new broadband infrastructure will create a seamless network reaching more than 170 communities and 2,000 schools, hospitals, emergency responders, libraries, colleges and universities, including:

  • Connecting 34 community colleges creating opportunities for collaboration on research and information exchange.
  • Making remote diagnosis, enhancing professional training with reduced travel, and making it possible to provide immediate assessment and guidance to emergency workers via videoconferencing.
  • Enabling businesses to use credit/debit card systems, automated inventory and fulfillment systems, and web sales that are not currently available or extremely limited today.
  • Giving farmers the ability to participate in commodities trading – a key competitive disadvantage to the family farmer.

"Washington counties and cities are extremely grateful and excited about the opportunities and improvements this Broadband Stimulus Grant represents.  This grant not only puts many people to work across the state, but more importantly provides critical connectivity to the many rural areas of our state," said ACCIS (WA-State Association of County/City Information Systems) President Ed Sherman.  "The combination of Round 1 and Round 2 Stimulus Grants will have a dramatic and positive impact toward improving healthcare, education, and public safety services in areas that simply could not afford broadband without the assistance of a grant."

NoaNet is leading the effort on behalf of a consortium of more than 60 private, governmental, tribal and non profit participants.  In addition to participant contributions of more than $45 million, NoaNet has received two federal grants totaling nearly $140 million as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to fund the broadband expansion program.

About NoaNet

NoaNet is a non-profit mutual corporation providing wholesale telecommunications transport and is headquartered in Tacoma, Washington.  For more than 10 years, it has operated a reliable public open-access broadband communication network totaling over 1,831 fiber miles that provides rural areas access to broadband services, supporting 61 last mile providers that serve more than 260,000 customers.  NoaNet's members are twelve public utility districts and a joint operating agency that have served wholesale customers in Washington State since 2000.

For More Information

Paul Bergman (206) 652-9506