EPHRATA – The Grant Public Utility District has $7.5 million budgeted for fiber optic and broadband expansion but isn’t sure how it will be spent.
A group of private Internet service providers asked the PUD Board of Commissioners about the state of the expansion during their Tuesday meeting.
The PUD will spend $2.5 million on maintenance, operations and upkeep of the system and $1 million on expanding the broadband network to rural areas. The remaining $3.5 million has yet to be allocated, said manager Tony Webb.
Webb added the initial plan is to use part of the funds for installing automated meters to measure broadband usage. The district is also looking to expand service in ten areas, including Coulee City, Quincy, George and Mattawa.
Critics said they were concerned that the district was looking to use the expansion as a means to limit private Internet providers gaining business in the county. Under state law, Grant County PUD cannot obtain retail authority and the district is committed to working with private business and not replacing it, said board secretary Larry Schaapman.
NOTE: iFIBER One News is owned by iFIBER Communications, which delivers Internet, television and phone service through the Grant PUD fiber optic system.