Under the Idaho Broadband Grant Program, Idaho Commerce funded a total of 83 broadband projects across Idaho in 2020.
North Central Idaho (Region 2) was awarded seven projects totaling $6.6 million, providing broadband connectivity to households, public safety and government organizations. Of these seven projects, six were awarded for household service expansion, providing broadband connectivity to 5,753 households. One of these projects, impacting more than 1,000 households was in Lewis County.
With the help of AirBridge Broadband, 16 wireless sites were improved through this grant in underserved communities throughout Lewis County including Winchester, Craigmont, Reubens, Nezperce and Kamiah.
Previously, in Lewis County, only 22% of residents had access to high-speed internet. Additionally, it was noted in the Broadband Task Force Report that Lewis County was one of the most underserved areas of Idaho.
Lewis County’s internet shortcomings had become even more apparent in light of COVID-19. According to city officials, residents did not have access to broadband capabilities that enabled telework and distance learning.
The project improved the safety and security of those in Lewis County, and according to David McKnight, co-owner of AirBridge Broadband, the impact from the completed project is already being felt.
McKnight said the grant has not just improved the broadband in the county but also opened a wide array of opportunities for the community. From farmers being able to better monitor their crops to students and adults being able to learn and work remotely, the impacts of the project are vast and continue to grow.
“The grant has really given new life and real benefit to this community,” McKnight said. “It is hard to completely quantify that.”
Lewis County Commissioner Justin McLeod also said the grant has positively impacted his community.
“I appreciate the opportunity Commerce presented to Lewis County,” McLeod said. “We made years of progress in a few months.”
Learn more about the Idaho Broadband Grant Program here.