Feds Pumps $54.5M in Stimulus Funds into Washington State to Expand Broadband Service, Spark Economic Growth

8/19/10

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will bring broadband access to underserved communities in the 1st district, and build upon the open Internet that has created millions of new jobs and given thousands of Washingtonians access to the global marketplace.”

“This is a great example of the Recovery Act at work, investing in our infrastructure with increased broadband Internet access,” Baird said. “Rural areas make up a large part of southwest Washington, and high-speed Internet access in these areas will help level the playing field. Small businesses can better compete regionally and nationally, and our kids can take advantage of greater educational opportunities for generations to come.”

Coincidentally, for such a tech-oriented state, Washington has not historically had the greatest broadband service. In its 2008 “State of the Internet Report,” Cambridge, MA-based Akamai found Washington state dead last in terms of Internet connection speeds.

Last month, Seattle-based network diagnostic company Ookla (the folks behind Speedtest.net and Pingtest.net) released some more recent statistics that ranked global Internet quality, compared service providers, and broke down analysis down to an individual IP address. The resulting report was the Net Index, based on data collected and analyzed from over 7 million tests from nearly 33 million unique IP address between July 19, 2010 and August 17, 2010. The report found that the United States ranks 27th in terms of Internet quality globally, and revealed that Washington state has climbed up in ranks over the last two years. We’re now in seventh place nationwide (and first off the East Coast) behind Delaware, Massachusettes, Rhode Island, Virginia, New Jersey, and Maryland.

But perhaps the most shocking piece of information to come out of the Index, is that when you look at the top 50 cities within Washington state, Seattle ranks way down at the bottom—or close to it—in 47th place. Still, decent Internet is better than none, and soon local leaders are hoping that access to the World Wide Web will be readily available from every corner of the state.

“This is great news for communities across Washington state,” Gov. Chri Gregoire said. “It’s these types of investments that have real results for Washingtonians. Expanding our broadband access puts people to work immediately—and creates jobs, educational opportunities, and improves community safety for the future.”

“Washington state—especially the city of Seattle—has long been ahead of the curve when it comes to understanding the importance of broadband technology, and I think there is no better region that will better utilize this funding,” U.S. Representative Jim McDermott said. “This project will not only improve connectivity for countless Washington state residents, but will equip our region’s public safety entities and health care organizations with cutting edge technology.  I’m pleased that the administration recognizes that improving broadband connectivity is a priority, and I want to thank them for recognizing that Washington state will put these funds to good use.”

Thea Chard is a correspondent for Xconomy Seattle. You can e-mail her at theachard@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/theachard. Follow @

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