NoaNet connects to anchor institutions in Washington

PSBJ reports that NoaNet (the Northwest Open Access Network) will be connecting communities across Washington to high-speed Internet.

NoaNet, a nonprofit organization owned by 12 public utility districts and network service providers, is using the grant money to connect rural areas to an existing broadband network that runs through the state. The organization provides wholesale, open-access broadband services only, so local provider companies, such as Comcast, can roll out the technology to individual businesses and homes.

“We connect to anchor institutions,” Bennink said.

Libraries, government agencies, emergency responders, schools and medical clinics were NoaNet’s anchors in the communities. Once those places have broadband access, private companies can come in and extend the service into the community, giving people high-speed access to all of the information, communication and services available online.

Left unanswered is the question of NoaNet’s authority to make direct connections to community anchor institutions. As the article describes,

NoaNet, a nonprofit organization owned by 12 public utility districts and network service providers, is using the grant money to connect rural areas to an existing broadband network that runs through the state. The organization provides wholesale, open-access broadband services only, so local provider companies, such as Comcast, can roll out the technology to individual businesses and homes.

According to a 2001 Attorney General Opinion,

The Interlocal Cooperation Act, RCW 39.34, does not authorize public utility districts or port districts, through interlocal agreement, to offer telecommunications services or facilities to other governmental units where the other unit is an “end user” of such services or facilities.

How, then — under what authority — is NoaNet making these connections to anchor institutions?

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This entry was posted in Duplicate Facilities, Legal Authority, NoaNet, Overbuilding and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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