Over the past several years, roadsides around the county have sprouted large wooden spools wound with beefy black fiber-optic cables.
The Okanogan County Public Utility District (PUD) has completed installing 200 miles of these cables on power poles to transmit high-speed Internet connections. The project, financed by the federal Stimulus Act five years ago, helped extend the PUD’s network to provide broadband service to remote areas throughout the county.
The PUD received a $5.5 million grant and $3.7 million loan to extend the wholesale network, which is leased to Internet service providers around the county. They offer connections to retail customers. Although the PUD operates the network, the broadband service is available to anyone who can obtain a signal, including customers of other utilities.
The completed backbone now stretches from the Columbia River junction in Brewster to the Canadian border.