(Washington, D.C.) – Today U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) joined with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, and Congressman Jay Inslee (D-WA 1st) on the campus of the University of Washington Medical Center to announce an $84 million federal investment in building new broadband lines to communities in Washington state. The funding was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) which Senator Murray helped pass into law. The funding will go to the Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet) a non-profit corporation of public utility districts that has partnered to provide access to libraries, hospitals, businesses and homeowners.
“This is a direct investment in making our state more competitive,” said Senator Murray. “Not only with other states here at home, but with other countries around the globe. This grant will bring telehealth, distance learning, and help for small businesses to many regions in our state for the first time. A person’s ZIP code should never limit their access to learning, high-quality health care, or a chance to grow a small business. Broadband access is no longer a luxury, it’s a must. This investment will help ensure we are not leaving communities behind.”
“Broadband access has the ability to empower communities and open markets,” said Rep. Inslee. “The Recovery act is helping to put people back to work today as well as build the economic foundation we need to create well paying jobs. Through this grant, NoaNet, the University of Washington and other internet providers will be able to expand services to Washington state’s rural communities, assist health providers in sharing information, and allow small businesses to connect with each other and the world.”
Using this funding NoaNet intends to add an additional 830 miles of fiber and eight new microwave sites. This work will help save and create construction and maintenance jobs in Washington state and will help provide broadband access to communities with a focus on hospitals, libraries, government facilities, and rural community and tribal centers. See more detailed information on this investment, including project partner.
Senator Murray is a longtime supporter of expanding broadband access to communities throughout Washington state. Senator Murray has introduced and supported several bills that aim to bring high-speed internet access to rural areas including the Community Telecommunications Planning Act, the Broadband Internet Access Act and the Rural Broadband Enhancement Act. She has also worked to include funding for access programs in the Farm Bill and Recovery Act. In 2000, Senator Murray chaired a conference in Spokane, aimed at helping small and rural communities take advantage of new telecommunications technologies.