High-speed broadband expansion underway

Unserved Gorge businesses, residents and institutions will be connected

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Construction is underway on a major expansion of broadband fiber that will connect the unserved Washougal and Wind River areas with high-speed Internet service.

Northwest Open Access Network is starting construction on two projects that will bring high-speed Internet access to schools, hospitals, emergency response agencies and libraries across the Columbia River Gorge. The projects will lay the ground work for bringing broadband service to thousands of businesses and households.

Construction crews are at work laying more than 50 miles of high speed fiber in Skamania County during the next three months.

The new broadband Internet service will be available soon after construction is completed this fall.

“This broadband initiative will create immediate jobs during construction and attract economic investment to rural areas that have struggled from limited access to broadband,” said Greg Marney, chief executive officer of NoaNet.

The new broadband infrastructure will create a network connection capable of connecting community colleges and universities, creating opportunities for collaboration on research and information exchange. Emergency workers can make remote diagnoses, enhance professional training with reduced travel and provide immediate assessment via videoconferencing.

It will allow businesses to use credit and debit card systems, automated inventory and fulfillment systems and web sales, while farmers will be able to participate in commodities trading.

“Broadband expansion will spur economic development for area business and will offer a new conduit for information to flow to and from Columbia Gorge Communities,” said Brian Adams, manager of Sawtooth Technologies, LLC. “As part of the NoaNet grant, this type of network has the capacity to connect most schools and libraries in Skamania and Klickitat counties, including a one gigabit per second connection between all five schools in the Washougal School District.”

The projects are being paid for by the federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act grants, and local entities are providing matching dollars. Sawtooth Technologies/SawNet, of Washougal, partnered with NoaNet and is contracted to build the high-speed fiber.

NoaNet is a consortium of more than 60 private, governmental, tribal and non profit participants. It is a non-profit mutual corporation that provides wholesale telecommunications transport.

NoaNet, headquartered in Tacoma, has operated a public open-access broadband communication network totaling 1,831 fiber miles. The network provides rural areas access to broadband services.

For more information, call (866) 662-6380 or (509) 456-3611 or visit www.noanet.net.