Lewis County PUD is launching a survey to gather feedback on the availability of high-speed internet in Lewis County and interest in a more widespread fiber optic network.
“As a resident of the south Chehalis area, I know firsthand that high-speed Internet access is a struggle for our community. The PUD is developing a strategy to expand its broadband network to areas of high need. This survey gives us the vital data needed to inform our efforts,” said Ben Kostick, District 1 Commissioner, in a statement.
Current Washington state law restricts most public utility districts from providing retail telecommunications services. Instead, Lewis County PUD provides what is known as “dark fiber,” or fiber optic cable that is leased to other government agencies to connect public facilities, or by a licensed retail telecommunications provider who sells internet, phone, and television services to households and businesses, according to a news release from the PUD.
“Our world is becoming ever more digital, and the COVID-19 pandemic has shined a spotlight on the growing digital divide. It is critical for students, businesses, and communities to have access to high quality, affordable Internet. Providing broadband to rural communities is a challenge due to the lack of fiber infrastructure and low population densities. This survey will give us the hard data needed to apply for grants and prioritize expansion,” said Chris Roden, General Manager of Lewis County PUD.
The survey is being administered by Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet), Washington State’s leading non-profit wholesale broadband and telecom solutions provider. The survey will not be used for commercial purposes.
In partnership with its own Energy Services department, the PUD is giving away a three-pack of energy efficient LED light bulbs to the first 3,000 households that complete the survey.
The survey will be open to all Lewis County PUD customers from May 7 through at least June 15, 2020. For information and to take the survey, go to www.lcpud.org/broadband. Customers without Internet access can take the survey by phone, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 360-602-1522.