The county’s resolution would help Yakima’s ISP receive funding to expand internet infrastructure | business

YAKIMA –A Yakima internet service provider could soon expand its broadband internet infrastructure thanks to a resolution by the Yakima County Board of Commissioners.

Commissioners will consider a letter Tuesday to allow Washington Broadband of Yakima to receive grants to provide high-speed fiber optic Internet services to underserved areas.

The company, which has been a Yakima Valley internet service provider for nearly 30 years, has been fiber deployment for broadband Internet services to homes in rural areas of Yakima County for several years, President Forbes Mercy said.

“Our goal has always been to continuously upgrade our customers’ speeds,” Mercy wrote in an email to the Yakima Herald-Republic. “We’re essentially reinvesting in those who have trusted us for decades for their internet needs, as those needs accelerate faster than technology.”

Fiber has been installed for Washington Broadband customers in the Cowiche area in recent months, Mercy said, with more fiber installation planned for this winter in the Naches area.

Action by county commissioners could provide grants to help expand the company’s efforts to build infrastructure for rural high-speed internet, he added.

“Spending close to $1 million a year of our own budget on fiber deployment, the county saw us as a legacy broadband operator and not a risky investment in an inexperienced internet builder,” Mercy wrote.

Previously, Mercy has criticized the deployment of federal funding for broadband infrastructure.

When asked about the pending county resolution, Mercy said she appreciates the county commissioners’ approach to the Internet access issue.

“It is never our desire to feel the thumb of regulations that could compromise our clients’ privacy and decision-making, reduce competition, or provide an unrealistic expectation of standards inconsistent with grants issued in other public-private partnerships,” Mercy wrote. “That is why we have resisted any funding in the past.

“The similar nature of this group of commissioners to protect their taxpayers, minimize government involvement, while accelerating high-speed access, has us interested enough to enter into a period of mutual discussion in search of common ground,” he added. .

During the commissioners’ Friday, Dec. 23 work session, contract broadband consultant Joe Poire said any infrastructure Washington Broadband builds would be available to other internet service providers.

“The system will have open access to any provider that wants to use (the fiber),” Poire said.

“The point is to get broadband to as many people as possible in the most efficient way possible,” added Commissioner Amanda McKinney.

Melissa Holm, program coordinator for Yakima County Human Services, said the resolution declaring Washington Broadband eligible for grant funding does not bind the county to any company.

“This is one of the minimum requirements for the grant application,” Holm said. “I sent out notifications to all ISP providers (in Yakima County) inviting them to participate.

“If a grant is awarded, it would go through Yakima County.”

The commissioners’ regular weekly meeting is Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the Yakima County Courthouse, and is also available online. For an agenda and online access to the meeting, visit yakimacounty.us/agendacenter.

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