4-State Broadband Cooperative Sets Sights on Rural Broadband Network

The Pacific Northwest Internet Service Everywhere (PNWISE) broadband cooperative has announced it has contracted with Aspen Wireless Networks for a range of consulting services. PNWISE is working to create a rural broadband network across four states in the Pacific Northwest: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and the western part of Montana.

Aspen will provide services to PNWISE including: broadband mapping (to the census block), financial modeling, public-private partnerships, business planning, technology engineering, and systems integration to ensure PNWISE will meet its goal. In addition, the company will work with PNWISE on a grant submission for funding under the first round of funding allocated for broadband under the federal ARRA stimulus act.

Historically, one of the key issues affecting rural broadband connectivity is known as geographic "economies of scale," meaning that the more customers a local or regional business serves, the lower the operating cost per customer. That is, while densely populated urban and suburban areas often experience problems owing to too much Internet traffic, in rural areas customers are generally spread out over a much larger geographic area, leading to less profitable economies of scale. As a result, such areas are often deprived of the utility infrastructure necessary for the speed and consistency of service enjoyed in metropolitan areas.

"We have been stirring this pot for years now, but Aspen Wireless is the key component to turning this dream in to a reality," said Link Shadley, managing member of PNWISE. "Cooperatives brought electricity, telephone and other vital utilities to rural areas and we are committed to delivering affordable broadband as the next utility to our part of rural America."

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Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.