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Ziply, iFIBER Merger Could Boost Washington State Broadband Access
Ziply Fiber has been increasingly active across Washington State, helping municipalities expand access to affordable, open access fiber networks. Those efforts have received a significant boost with the news that Ziply has acquired iFiber Communications, a Washington state open access ISP that works closely with Washington’s growing public utility districts (PUDs).
According to the Ziply announcement, the acquisition was for an undisclosed sum, but should dramatically help the company’s focus on expanding affordable fiber broadband service to Pacific Northwest customers long unserved or underserved by regional broadband monopolies like Comcast and Frontier Communications.
Ziply Fiber has unveiled new fiber construction projects across more than 90 cities and towns across the Northwest since the company began its fiber expansion plans in the summer of 2020. The iFiber acquisition is the second this year, Ziply having acquired Oregon fiber and wireless ISP Eastern Oregon Net, Inc (EONI) last June.
They’ve been particularly active in Washington state, most recently partnering with the Snohomish county government to leverage a $16.7 million Broadband Infrastructure Acceleration grant to expand affordable fiber access across the county. Ziply’s also been in talks with Whidbey Island, Washington officials on a major fiber expansion push.
Whidbey Island, WA Poised To See Major Fiber Expansion
Whidbey Island, Washington is the latest region poised to benefit from a major, multi-pronged boost in state fiber investment. Financing provided by the Washington State Public Works Board, combined with federal broadband infrastructure acceleration grants, should soon dramatically expand affordable fiber across various parts of the island.
Last December, the Washington State Public Works Board approved $44.6 million in financing for 15 broadband projects across the state. That included $4.8 million for the Port of Coupeville on Whidbey Island to expand fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband service to under-served island communities.
As with countless U.S. towns and cities, Covid-19 home schooling and telecommuting dramatically highlighted a need to improve access to affordable, future-proof broadband infrastructure.
“We learned during the pandemic when we were trying to do school and Zoom meetings or virtual meetings, that having that capacity in the Internet was critical to our ability to educate our kids, do business, operate government and even just have parties with our families when we’re in isolation,” Island County Commissioner Janet St. Clair recently told the Whidbey News Times.
Bidding Process For Potential Partners Now Open
Initial reports stated that the Port of Coupeville would primarily be working with Ziply fiber, which was expected to finance the remainder of the fiber project’s estimated $8 million price tag. Other reports suggested that Ziply would be seeing exclusive operation/ownership rights as part of the arrangement.
But Ziply and Port of Coupeville representatives told ILSR those reports were premature, the full scope and details of the project remain very much in flux, and additional bidders were now being considered.