–The first batch of fiber-optic cable for a new network serving Lewiston is just about to be laid.
Yet the Port of Whitman County, which is installing the broadband infrastructure, has already been bombarded with calls from potential customers.
Port Executive Director Joe Poire said many future customers are brainstorming ways they might be able to replace the service for schools that was being provided by the now-defunct Idaho Education Network.
“It just proves how many years, if not decades, we are behind on this technology,” he said.
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It’s not clear yet how the Port of Whitman County’s work will help. For now, the network will only go from the Idaho-Washington state line near the base of the Lewiston Hill to North Lewiston and the north side of the Memorial Bridge.
The work is being done by Summit Utility Contractors in Lewiston at a cost of $142,973. It is expected to be finished in four to five and a half weeks.
The line can be leased for 2 cents a foot per month, with a one-mile minimum to any entity that provides telecommunications services such as high-speed Internet, cellphone service or other phone service.
Whether it will be extended across the bridge into other parts of Lewiston is a question the Port of Whitman County is exploring with the Port of Lewiston, Poire said. The two ports are partners on the project.
As the Port of Whitman County brings fiber-optic cable into Nez Perce County, the Port of Clarkston is working on expanding its telecommunications infrastructure in Asotin County, which works on a similar financial model.
The Port of Clarkston is paying Summit Utility Contractors $15,215 to add about 1,500 feet to its fiber-optic network. The new section will run from 13th Street and Highland Avenue to 12th Street near Tri-State Memorial Hospital.
The Clarkston port already serves all Clarkston School District buildings, the port district north of Fair Street and the port’s Turning Pointe sustainable business park.