The Odessa Record -

Improved Internet options in 2019

 

March 14, 2019



(Davenport, WA March 7, 2019) The Lincoln County Economic Development Council has good news to share about some familiar companies making big broadband advancements in 2019. The EDC has communicated with many providers over the past year, and they find it no surprise that it is those companies already serving Lincoln County that are stepping up to the plate and moving Internet services forward.

Local Internet service provider Odessa Office Equipment currently provides high-speed Internet service to hundreds of Lincoln County homes and businesses. The company’s broadband network spans 45,000 square miles and reaches six counties, fueled by bandwidth purchased from Grant County PUD and NoaNet.

This past January the company went live with a new venture – a network designed for Odessa’s business district using advanced wireless equipment that generates “faster than fiber” speeds. The first customer to sign on saw its speed go from 35 Mbps to 250 Mbps upon installation. Odessa Office has plans to provide triple-digit speeds to more business districts in Lincoln County, with Davenport and Wilbur scheduled next.

Odessa Office started out as an office equipment sales and service company in 1995 but added Internet service to provide the community with an option that didn’t come with long distance charges. Since 2002, Odessa Office has focused solely on Internet and today is an independently funded company with four employees that continuously invests in the high speed broadband infrastructure it takes to keep up with the changing needs of the rural communities they serve.

Inland Cellular, a popular mobile communications provider serving Lincoln County since 1994, is also making a big investment in 2019. The company has announced plans to begin offering high speed broadband connectivity to the residents and businesses of Lincoln County. For 30 years Inland Cellular has developed their mobile network specifically to provide communications to rural areas throughout the northwest and the company will soon begin upgrading their existing infrastructure to allow for high-speed broadband as well as improvements to mobile communication. The new broadband service will utilize a variety of different technologies and will introduce a 5G type aggregation to handle Lincoln County’s diverse terrain and population dispersion. Inland is also adding a Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRAWAN) platform to facilitate the use of agricultural and business Internet of Things technology.

Also making broadband news in Lincoln County is LocalTel out of Wenatchee. LocalTel purchased Spectrum Online Services of Moses Lake a couple of years ago, shortly after Spectrum Online had purchased Ritzville-based RitzCom. A handful of Lincoln County customers previously served by Spectrum Online and RitzCom are now served by LocalTel. In 2018, LocalTel committed to investing locally when they became the winning bidder for Lincoln County in the Federal Communication Commission’s Connect America Fund Phase II auction. The purpose of the FCC auction is to encourage providers to service rural areas for which there is no business case for building out broadband absent that subsidy. As the winning bidder, LocalTel is required to provide download speeds equal to or greater than 25 Mbps and upload speeds equal to or greater than 3 Mbps to every home and business within specific census block groups identified by the FCC in LocalTel’s auction area (see the FCC map at http://www.fcc.gov/reports-research/maps/caf2-auction-final-areas). The FCC allows bid winners 10 years to build out their network with 90 percent required to be complete within six years, so this is not an expansion you will see this year. However, the company is eager to expand, and its goal is to finish the build-out within four years.

The EDC broadband planning team is well aware of the fact that the majority of providers target areas with large populations and appreciate how fortunate we are to have local and regional companies who are responsive to the needs of rural communities. We will post progress updates on our website (www.LincolnEDC.org/businessresources/broadband) and Facebook page (lincolncountyedc) as they are received.

 

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