Photo by Max DeRoin from Pexels

Photo by Max DeRoin from Pexels

Federal Way to address ‘digital deserts’ for local internet connection

Pandemic reveals heightened broadband infrastructure demands for remote learning and remote work.

Federal Way will soon undergo an internet broadband study to address the city’s digital deserts and develop a high-speed internet city fiber network.

On Dec. 7, the Federal Way City Council accepted a $50,000 grant for the “Federal Way Broadband Planning Study,” provided by the Washington Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB). The board announced investments of $3.3 million in four counties on Nov. 22.

The broadband project consists of a feasibility study to assess the potential for developing a high-speed city fiber network for Federal Way, according to the board. The CERB funds are matched by $25,000 in federal ARPA funds from the city. The total study cost will be $75,000.

At the city council’s February 2020 retreat, the council agreed upon the goal of becoming a “tech hub,” said Tim Johnson, economic development director.

In September, the City of Federal Way determined that improved broadband access is vital for economic development, improving diversity and inclusion, and enhancing education.

“Enhancing broadband was identified early on in the pandemic as essential due to remote learning, work and the demands it brought on the existing broadband infrastructure in the city,” stated a Sept. 7 city memorandum.

In early 2020, the city provided $100,000 in CARES Act funding to the Federal Way Public Schools district to acquire internet hot spots located near areas where students experience inadequate internet connection.

The was a “Band-Aid” solution, the city said. The pandemic revealed heightened broadband infrastructure demands when it comes to remote learning and remote work.

An assessment is needed to determine what internet speeds are available in the city, the internet speed adequacy in the city, what infrastructure improvements are needed and the digital deserts within Federal Way.

Federal Way currently relies on Century Link for digital subscriber line (DSL) service, and Comcast “does not provide adequate speeds for many households,” the memorandum stated.

“There is a need for affordable broadband that can handle the internet demands of a modern household,” it stated.

“High-speed internet access, or broadband, is critical to economic opportunity, job creation, education, and civic engagement,” according to a 2020 report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). But, there is a “digital divide” between people who have access to high speed internet/advanced telecommunications, and those who do not, the report states, and most of the divide depends on fixed broadband networks.

FCC data from 2017 estimates about 0.2% of Americans do not have access to high-speed mobile broadband service, which rises to about 0.9% in rural areas and approximately 3% on Tribal lands.

The study’s work is set to beginning in 2022. Work and examination will be performed through hiring a consultant.

Materials outlining the scope of work will be developed and provided to the Federal Way City Council in January for approval, Johnson added.

Overall, CERB approved $2,431,250 in grants and $843,750 in low-interest loans for economic development, public infrastructure, and broadband development. The four additional recipients are in Cowlitz, Grays Harbor and Whatcom counties.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Courtesy photo
State offers free at-home COVID-19 tests

You can order the tests through the state’s new online portal.

Sen. Mona Das, D-47
Kent Democratic Sen. Mona Das proposes 1% cut in state sales tax

Starting in 2023; Republicans voice support for Senate Bill 5932

tsr
Federal Way police arrest suspect in fatal carjacking

Ruvim Stukov, 20, was shot and killed in a Federal Way shopping center on Dec. 8, 2021.

File photo
Non-profit sponsors study on how the pandemic impacted arts and culture in Puget Sound

The study helped identify challenges faced by residents and cultural organizations in Washington

James Fossos, far right, stands with his fellow SKFR fire commissioners and Fire Chief Vic Pennington at a commissioner's meeting on Feb. 26, 2019. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo
Former South King Fire Commissioner James Fossos dies at 75

Fossos served as a fire commissioner for over 27 years.

File photo
WA lawmakers propose making companies responsible for recycling improvements

SB 5697 would compel industries to report data, invest in infrastructure, meet standards.

Governor Jay Inslee. Sound Publishing file photo
Inslee: Officials’ lies about election results should be crime

Governor wants lawmakers to pass legislation making it a gross misdemeanor.

Aerial view of Federal Way. Photo courtesy of Bruce Honda
Federal Way, Auburn mayors speak out against multi-family housing bill

Leaders say they don’t need state intervention.

File photo
Person assaulted on BPA Trail | Police blotter

Following is a sample from the Federal Way police log Jan. 12-18.

Most Read