Port of C-W moves ahead with broadband study

Port of Camas-Washougal commissioners on July 20, approved a $62,500 contract with Petrichor Broadband, an Eastern Washington-based consulting corporation, to conduct a feasibility and planning study on bringing dark fiber infrastructure — fiber-optic cables installed in the ground that network service providers can use to fulfill future bandwidth needs — to East Clark County.

“I think the most important part of this feasibility study (is answering the question), ‘How can we fill in the gaps that we have in the outlying areas of the Port district?” Port Commissioner Larry Keister said during the meeting. “I think it’s a great opportunity (to improve) broadband for those of us (whose) capabilities are limited.”

The Port is paying for the study with $12,500 of its own funds and $50,000 that it received from Washington state’s Community Economic Revitalization Board Rural Broadband program.

Petrichor Broadband, a public corporation formed in 2020 by the Washington ports of Kalama, Ridgefield, Bellingham, Pasco, Whitman County and Skagit County, provides broadband consulting and network management services for public agencies, including other ports, tribes, counties, cities, public utility districts and industrial development zones, across Washington state.

The study will examine “existing telecommunications services in the Port of Camas-Washougal District, assess existing broadband capacity, and identify gaps in coverage and possible solutions to address such gaps,” Kara Riebold, Petrichor’s chief operating officer, told the Port.

Petrichor expects to finish by the end of 2022.