A $5 million plan will bring high-speed internet to the Key Peninsula

High speed internet is coming to the Key Peninsula.

Pierce County announced in a press release Monday that it is collaborating with Comcast.

The agreement, the statement said, “will increase the availability of high-speed internet services in the Key Peninsula.”

According to the release, the Internet expansion will provide “a fast, reliable, fiber-rich network and a full suite of services to more than 526 homes and businesses in the Key Peninsula.”

The project cost is estimated at about $5 million. Pierce County contributes $3.75 million from the American Rescue Plan Act.

“In July 2021, Pierce County committed $15 million in federal ARPA funds to assist in efforts to close broadband gaps across the county,” Erin Babbo, Pierce County Communications Director, told Portal Tuesday. “All ARPA funds must be spent by 2026 and meet donor requirements.”

Babu said the rest of the cost of the Key Peninsula project will be covered by Comcast. Comcast will also build the infrastructure.

“Now, more than ever, it is more important that people have access to high-speed Internet,” said Pierce County Executive Director Bruce Damer in the release. “Whether for work, school or leisure, we want to help all residents of the county enjoy the benefits of this important infrastructure.”

Papu said Pierce County and Comcast expect construction to begin around the end of this summer after the design is finalized and the licensing process begins.

Babu said they estimate that construction will be completed by the end of 2024.

“Once permits are secured and construction begins on public rights-of-way, Comcast will create an online resource for residents looking for information about network construction in their area, including answers to frequently asked questions and product and service details,” the press release said.

Plans for this project began in November 2021, when Pierce County began looking for potential partners to expand broadband Internet access in areas of Pierce County that were identified as underserved or underserved, Päbo said.

“Comcast was one of the participants selected for their proposal to serve addresses in the North Key Peninsula Broadband Development Area,” said Babu.

Babu told the portal that large parts of the Key Peninsula do not have access to internet service that meets a minimum download speed of 25 megabits per second / upload 3 megabits per second.

Pierce County recognizes the public benefit that broadband service can contribute to the economic development and quality of life of communities and businesses within underserved and underserved areas,” said Babu. “All of our communities need access to this essential tool.”

How much will it cost residents?

Once you activate the extended network in the Key Peninsula, pricing will vary for each plan.

Comcast’s residential internet services range from $19.99 to $80 per month, according to websiteBusiness Internet services range from $49.99 to $349.99 per month.

Residents will be able to register with the company Internet basics which provides low-cost, high-speed broadband to low-income families, according to Babu.

Interest Essentials offers free online service to eligible residents through application process.

“Comcast has connected more than 21,000 households in Pierce County to high-speed Internet in the home, many for the first time, through the Internet Essentials program,” Papo said.

Others may qualify Affordable communication softwareIt gives eligible families a $30 monthly credit for Internet and mobile phone services, Babu said.

Aspen Shumpert is a correspondent for The Peninsula Gateway. She grew up in Tacoma and graduated from Washington State University in May 2022. She started working at the News Tribune in March 2022.

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