High-speed broadband coming to more Wash. libraries

High-speed broadband service will soon blanket more libraries and other locations throughout Washington. Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet) announced Wednesday it has received the necessary funds to extend high-speed broadband service to nearly every area of the state.

“The NoaNet application will bring enhanced broadband connectivity to 45 public library buildings and two tribal libraries,” said Washington State Librarian Jan Walsh. “This will revolutionize the service that libraries will be able to offer their communities. People from vulnerable populations, the ‘have nots’ who are without broadband access at home, will take advantage of broadband at their local library and will be well connected with the world of the ‘haves.’ This is truly exciting news for the people of rural Washington.”

The $138.8 million program received a second federal grant Wednesday of $54.45 million to 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.

Last year, NoaNet succeeded in securing an $84.3 million “round one” grant that is funding the construction of 831 miles of fiber optics in southeastern and southwestern Washington.

Walsh led the participation of the Washington State Library and the libraries in the NoaNet application.

“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,” Marney said.

“This is a game-changer for many communities,” Marney said.”It’s 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.”

The State Library is a division of the Office of Secretary of State.