Gila County pledges Broadband will drive economy


Gila County Supervisor Tim Humphrey, along with County Manager James Menlove and Assistant County Manager Homero Vela, attended both the Town of Miami and City of Globe council meetings. They were looking for support and members from both municipalities to join Gila County’s Broadband Strategic Plan –– with the idea that Broadband in Gila County would drive the economy.

Broadband is high speed internet service that is always on. The current internet service in Gila County is not always on and sometimes it fails so it is unreliable. Broadband should be able to transmit 25MB per second for download, and for upload it should transmit 3MB per second.

Gila County has looked into this subject extensively and is suggesting that it be a new utility. Broadband is vital to the future quality of life for all communities. The infrastructure Gila County is looking into would also be “future proof” meaning that it would be developed to keep up with evolving technology, to make sure the investment would be worth the cost.

To pay for it, it would be considered a utility in Gila County and the subscribers, which would be optional, would help pay for the infrastructure. The money is already being spent in Gila County and the charts below show how.

Govenor Ducey also announced an additional $10 million in Rural Broadband Development Grants. This funding will accelerate the enhancement of broadband infrastructure and enhance economic growth and quality of life in rural areas.

Rural Broadband Development Grants awardees were allocated in two separate categories: development grants, awarded to recipients whose prospective projects are ready for construction, and planning grants, allocated for projects in the planning and development stage. Development grants are capped at $1 million per project, while the maximum award for planning grants is $50,000 per project.

Development grant awardees include:

Sparklight, formerly known as Cable One, will provide fiber to approximately 400 business customers in Payson, Star Valley and Tonto Apache Tribe that has symmetrical service up to 2 Gbps.

Mohave Electric Coop will provide high-speed broadband service at speeds up to 10 Gbps symmetrical to its 35,000 members. The project will serve Bullhead City, Fort Mohave and Mohave Valley.

Commnet Wireless will create a new fiber-optic middle mile to Page to serve 310 small businesses and 1,066 households within the area.

All projects will be completed within two years of the award date which was announced Jan. 10, 2020

Planning grant awardees include:

Coconino County; Gila County; Town of Springerville; City of St. Johns

In order to be eligible for the grant, awardees had to be an Arizona city and town with a population of fewer than 150,000 that are not part of a larger contiguous metro area; an Arizona county with a population of fewer than 750,000; a federally-based Indian tribe located in Arizona; an established non-profit enterprises focused on economic development in Arizona; or a for-profit enterprises with a minimum of five years operating history in the telecommunications industry.

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