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EPHTATA - Microsoft is stepping in to help with the further buildout of Grant PUD’s fiber optic network.

On Tuesday, Grant PUD commissioners learned that Microsoft will contribute $200,000 towards the buildout in George.

Since opening its Quincy data center in 2006, Microsoft has supported community projects in Grant County.

“The City of George is the only incorporated city in Grant County that does not have access to fiber-optic service, and we’re eager to help change that,” said Mike Miles, General Manager, Microsoft Cloud Infrastructure and Operations (MCIO), whose community development team is working in partnership with Grant County PUD.

Microsoft’s contribution is a benefit to not only those living in George but for customers throughout Grant County, said commission president Terry Brewer.

“With this partnership, we can bring our wholesale fiber-optic service to the community of George and also maximize our resources to expand fiber optic service in other locations in the county,” Brewer said. “We are excited about this partnership and that we are able to achieve our mutual goal of bringing high quality fiber optic service to more customers in Grant County.”

“High-speed internet is rapidly transforming how we work, farm, and educate our children,” said Lisa Karstetter, manager Microsoft TechSparkWashington, a program that fosters greater economic opportunity and job creation. “It’s Microsoft’s privilege to help bring broadband to residents and businesses in our community.”

70 percent of Grant PUD customers have access to fiber internet. Within the next several weeks, Grant PUD will finalize its schedule to establish service to George and announce plans for fiber expansion to other areas in the county.

Grant PUD's commissioners set aside $7 million in the 2018 budget for fiber-optic expansion.

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