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High-speed Internet access heading to reservation


High-speed Internet will soon be on its way to the Colville Reservation, according to Jim Ronyak, IT division director for Colville Indian Agency of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

New fiber-optic lines will bring service to Nespelem School, Nespelem Head Start and the tribal government campus. Later it will branch out to other areas.

Ronyak said this week that high speed Internet service on the reservation would be “life changing.”

The estimated $1.4 million project was 90-percent financed by a grant from federal Universal Service funding supplied by telecommunications companies. The remainder of the cost will come from the tribes.

Ronyak said one step in the permit process, the “open session forum” was conducted early this week.

Laying of the fiber-optic cable will begin at Coulee Dam and go the 16.5 miles to Nespelem School as soon as permits are gained from the Colville Tribes, Bureau of Indian Affairs Washington State Department of Transportation, and the towns of Coulee Dam, Elmer City and Nespelem.

Officials couldn’t indicate when the permit process would be complete, only that they were ready to go and hoped to begin in September.

The Colville Tribal Enterprise Corporation started the process in 2000, when it paid for fiber optics to be extended from the Grand Coulee Dam School District office in west Coulee Dam across the bridge to CTEC offices and the Coulee Dam Casino.

Workers will use a “micro-trenching” technique to lay the cable. Cable will be placed in a 12-inch deep trench only seven-eighths of an inch wide along the edge of the highway.

Officials have stated that no other land off the highway will be disturbed. The narrow trench will be backfilled with a grout-and-asphalt sealant.

There was no estimate of how long the work would take.

Officials have said that later there will be connections to the line with a “community connect,” which will branch out from SR 155, up Peter Dan Road, to bring high speed Internet to residents and institutions in Keller and at Mt. Tolman Fire Control Center.

The project will bring Internet capacity of one gigabyte per second to the reservation.

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