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PUD to build broadband in Point Roberts

$3.15M COVID-19 relief grant to pay for project

Whatcom County Public Utility District No. 1 will lay 25 miles of fiber-optic cable in Point Roberts
Whatcom County Public Utility District No. 1 will lay 25 miles of fiber-optic cable in Point Roberts (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

Public Utility District No. 1 of Whatcom County will use a $3.15 million grant to complete broadband buildout on Point Roberts.

The PUD will run about 25 miles of fiber-optic cable “all the way to the doorstep” of 1,274 Point Roberts residents, according to a PUD news release and Andrew Entrikin, the utility district’s broadband manager. 

The fiber should be in place by the end of 2024. The project is part of a countywide effort to bring high-speed internet to unserved and underserved areas of Whatcom County.

More than 14,000 residences and businesses still have inadequate broadband, Entrikin said.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” he said. “We’re going to keep going. There will be more grant dollars coming down the pipe.”

The Point Roberts project is also supported with $350,000 from Whatcom County. The PUD received the $3.15 million grant from the Washington State Broadband Office, part of the Department of Commerce. The money comes from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

The state awarded additional ARPA funds for broadband projects in Skagit and San Juan counties. Port of Skagit County was awarded $8.05 million to bring broadband service to the Bow area. Orcas Power and Light Cooperative received $14.95 million for multiple projects, providing broadband to San Juan and Orcas islands, and the Outer Islands.

In a statement, U.S. Rep Rick Larsen said the federal investment in broadband helps “to close the digital divide and ensure more people in rural and underserved communities can log on for job opportunities, grow their business, access telehealth appointments, do homework, and connect with family and friends.”

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