Broadband fiber link between Blyn, Sequim completed; more projects in the works

Broadband fiber link between Blyn, Sequim completed; more projects in the works

SEQUIM — A $337,000 Internet broadband fiber link just completed between Blyn and Sequim will significantly benefit the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe and Sequim Library.

Northwest Open Access Network, known as NoaNet, and Clallam County Public Utility District representatives will celebrate the project’s end at 1 p.m. Friday, March 16, at the Sequim Library, 630 N. Sequim Ave.

Speakers will include NoaNet Chief Executive Officer Greg Marney; PUD Commissioner Will Purser, who represents the Sequim-East County’s District 1; and Paula Barnes, director of the North Olympic Library System, which oversees public libraries in Sequim, Port Angeles, Forks and Clallam Bay.

Purser said the Sequim-Blyn project was one reason the PUD was part of NoaNet.

“The whole goal of NoaNet is to bring broadband to underserved areas,” Purser said. “And the eastern part of the county is really underserved.”

Angela Bennink, NoaNet marketing director, said the PUD coordinated the project, which involved stringing fiber on power poles for 6 miles between Blyn and Sequim.

“There are still more projects in Clallam County,” she said.

“And we’re still working with Jefferson County PUD and Team Jefferson on serving Port Townsend and Port Ludlow, and those areas.”

She said NoaNet also is working with the Clallam PUD on fiber connections to Forks, Clallam Bay and Neah Bay, plus the city of Port Angeles.

Tacoma-based NoaNet, a nonprofit mutual corporation providing wholesale telecommunications transport, is in the process of extending Internet broadband infrastructure across the North Olympic Peninsula.

The project is part of a federally funded economic stimulus effort to serve the rural region’s most distant reaches.

NoaNet operates a public open-access broadband communication network totaling 1,831 fiber miles that provides rural areas with access to broadband services, supporting 61 last-mile providers that serve more than 260,000 customers.

NoaNet supports a joint operating agency and 12 public utility districts as members, including those in Clallam and Jefferson counties, that have served wholesale customers in Washington state since 2000.

NoaNet is leading the effort on behalf of a consortium of more than 60 private, governmental, tribal and nonprofit participants.

The fiber pipeline dramatically improves Internet connectivity between the tribe’s new library in Blyn, the tribal center and the Jamestown Family Health and Medical Clinic facilities on North Fifth Avenue in Sequim.

“All of a sudden, we have the capacity to do the things we’ve never considered before,” said Adam Barrell, the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe’s information services manager.

“The old connection between Sequim and Blyn was a wireless bridge that shot the signal across Sequim Bay,” Barrell said. “It was reliable, but it was slow.”

The broadband improvements will provide improved backup of medical record and video-conferencing between the clinic and doctors off the Peninsula.

There also is a new opportunity for distance-learning programs.

“The tribe used to have a relationship with Northwest Indian College, but the satellite [connection] was very glitchy, and we finally gave up on the program,” Barrell said.

Barnes said broadband improvements will greatly benefit Clallam County’s public library system.

“Libraries aren’t just about books anymore,” Barnes said. “Technology is a big part of it.”

Besides the Sequim Library, she said, broadband will help the entire library system meet a growing demand for Internet access.

“The libraries are helping people bridge that digital divide,” she said, and the improvements will allow the system to move larger files, such as video and large graphics, and provide more computer access for teaching and general use.

NoaNet is initiating applications for two federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act grants that will bring high-speed Internet access to schools, hospitals, emergency-response agencies and libraries across Washington and lay the groundwork for bringing affordable broadband service to thousands of businesses and households.

Bennink said the grants total about $184 million, with about $140 million coming from the federal government and the balance from participating NoaNet local communities and governments.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at [email protected]

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