The Broadlinc Board in front of a Cellular on Wheels (COW) tower in Spangle.

Broadband Pilot in South Spokane County Provides Internet Access

Spokane County, Wash. — The Spokane Regional Broadband Development Authority, Broadlinc, hosted a showcase event in Spangle today to highlight an innovative first-in-kind deployment utilizing semi-fixed wireless towers to bring internet capacity to one of the digital deserts that exists in Spokane County.

The Washington State Broadband Office (WSBO) funded a $4.6 million grant in Spokane County through Broadlinc to pilot the ability to bring near-term internet to households, business, and Community Anchor Institutions while long-term infrastructure, like fiber optic connectivity is under construction.

Through this pilot, Broadlinc, in partnership with Peak Industries, New J and WiFIBER, has brought internet to 100 households as well as connectivity to all of Spokane County Fire District #3 through equipment in First Responder vehicles. “We now have the ability to receive emergency call information not available to our units before, and Dispatch can now see where our vehicles are on the map when out on calls” said SCFD3 Deputy Chief Dustin Flock. “This is really going to be a game changer come fire season this summer.”

At the Showcase, Broadlinc and its public private partners showcased a Cellular on Wheels (COW) semi-fixed tower, both fully deployed and how it can be easily compacted for travel by a standard pickup truck. Attendees also saw demonstrations of the equipment that has been installed in SCFD3 emergency response vehicles.

“We are excited to build on our momentum, by applying for upcoming federal Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) funding*. The funds are expected to total near $100 million and connect over 22,000 eligible locations that need broadband internet. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to close the digital divide in our County, and today’s demonstration with our public private partners, shows it is within our reach,” said Ariane Schmidt, Executive Director of Broadlinc.

Spokane County Commissioner and Broadlinc Chair, Mary Kuney added, “This investment is not only changing the lives of constituents today but will provide a foundation for match funding and build outs in the future.” Kuney represents District 4 on the Spokane County Board of Commissioners and serves as Chair of the Board.

*At this morning’s event, Schmidt also made an unexpected announcement that the National Association of Counties (NACo) had bestowed a 2024 Achievement Award for Spokane County and Broadlinc’s innovative approach in using E911 Address Points in FCC Fabric (a detailed list of all places in the United States where fixed broadband internet can be set up) which added $300 million to the Washington State Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) allocation to a new total of $1.24 billion!

 

*Photo credit: Jessica Hines of Spokane County. Board Members Featured left to right: Councilman Michael Cathcart, Ariane Schmidt (Broadlinc Executive Director), Commissioner Mary Kuney, Kyle Twohig, Mayor Terri Cooper, Scott Simmons