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City acquires fiber optics in preparation to offer service


The city of Coulee Dam has bought a business and its 96 strands of fiber-optic cable that run beneath the Columbia River bridge, the mayor announced at a special city council meeting Wednesday.

The purchase, a year-and-a-half in the making according to Mayor Greg Wilder, will allow Coulee Dam to move forward in developing plans that council members have advocated to bring internet speeds in town up to modern standards.

The council had voted Dec. 13 to allow Wilder and City Attorney Mick Howe to work out a deal with Basin Broadband LLC, a Moses Lake company whose owner lives in Utah and took some effort to find.

The mile of fiber cable and related equipment now belong to Coulee Dam, which paid $34,995.

The purchase agreement states that the company had only one customer with an agreement for renting the fiber optic line — the Grand Coulee Dam School District — and that the city would honor that agreement, which ends in 2020. The district pays $170 a month to connect the district office to the school on the other side of town.

No such agreement exists, however, with either Country Cable, a cable television provider operating in town, or the Colville Tribes, which has been installing fiber from the bridge north toward Omak. The tribal casino in east Coulee Dam also uses a broadband connection.

The possibility of owning a fiber optic network and providing service to residents and businesses prompted the town earlier this year to change its charter to that of a code city, as opposed to a town, because a town cannot offer such a service under state law.

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