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February 2, 2022

Olympia, WA.  The Washington State Broadband Office (WSBO) has awarded the Washington Independent Telecommunications Association (WITA) $14.8 M to provide new services to more than 1200 underserved and unserved homes and businesses.  This public-private partnership teams WITA, a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1915, with two small, family-owned telecommunications companies:  Hood Canal Communications (established in 1934) and Whidbey Telecom (founded in 1908).  Together these entities represent over 300 years of commitment to meeting the telecommunications needs of rural Washington.  

The grant will extend broadband services to residents and businesses in several low-density population pockets of Mason and Island Counties.  Each company will contribute a cash match to their portion of the project resulting in Fiber to the Home and offer broadband internet up to 1,000 Mbps (Gigabit) with synchronous upload and download speeds.  The availability of high-speed internet service will also greatly enhance the capabilities of state and local emergency responders in these areas.

George Henny, Co-CEO of Whidbey Telecom stated, “Washington State and the Federal government are making a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness.  We are encouraged by these collaborative efforts and the bipartisan support that is critical to ensure that we have access to affordable, reliable, and scalable fiber broadband technologies supporting the economic viability of rural areas today and into the future.”

Whidbey Telecom and Hood Canal Communications have aggressively pursued and received multiple State and Federal grants, both directly and in partnership with public entities, to ensure that even the most rural parts of their service areas have access to gigabit broadband service.  This grant will also help these companies expand beyond their traditional service areas into neighboring areas which are currently unserved.

According to Mike Oblizalo, General Manager and Vice President of Hood Canal Communications, the company is extremely grateful for the partnership with WITA and the WSBO for making these projects possible.

Contact:
Betty Buckley, Executive Director
Washington Independent Telecommunications Association
bettyb@wita-tel.org
509.690.0530


White boom truck with Hood Canal employee standing near front passenger side with white hard hat, yellow safety vest, and a thumbs up.
Hood Canal Communications (HHC) employee gives a thumbs up while posing in front of a white boom truck.

“These are the communities that we serve; our friends and neighbors. We have a duty to do what is right during times of crisis.” James Brooks, Inland Telephone Company.

I’ve spoken with many of our members in the last few days, all of whom are reaching out to their local communities to see how they can help them through the COVID 19 pandemic. Many are setting up hot spots, many are reaching out to their local schools to ensure that kids can continue to learn from home, and all have waived late fees and discontinued cut-offs. Some are even looking at ways to help people get back on their feet once our country is back to work.

Inland Telephone’s efforts cover all the bases. This story is just one example of why Doug Weis, Inland Telephone Company President, was awarded the President’s Award last year. We were finally able to catch up with Doug and give him his award at the ITA Showcase this spring.

Inland Telephone Company’s Roslyn exchange has FTTH and full coverage. They light-up the entire downtown of Roslyn with Wi-Fi every summer for the Farmers Market and their techs have been told to turn that up now. Inland Telephone Company is currently working with the Roslyn-Cle Elum school district to get those students that do not have service today turned-up. This also includes Cle Elum and South Cle Elum where they have a broadband CLEC.

Inland Telephone Company is not turning down requests for service in any of their exchanges: Dewatto, Prescott, Roslyn, and Uniontown.

They just concluded working with the Colton School District in Uniontown; connecting five households covering twenty students that were identified as needing broadband. Inland Telephone Company is not charging for the service or for the emergency student connections during this period of crisis.

Inland Telephone Company has suspended disconnects and late pay fees. When things get back to normal, they are committed to working with those subscribers that have become economically challenged during this crisis on payment plans.

It’s an honor and a blessing to work with companies like Inland Telephone; companies like all of our members.