‘Hopefully just phase one:’ Clark County to spend $3M to connect 415 households to the internet

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The Board of Clark County Commissioners has approved nearly $3 million in funding to improve high-speed broadband internet connectivity in roughly 415 households across the county.

Nearly 5% of Clark County’s population currently does not have access to high-speed internet, according to the county. Statewide, more than 300,000 households are without access to broadband.

That’s an issue because the need for high-speed internet has increased this year as more employers have asked employees to work from home and schools have used more virtual learning.

As a way to improve connectivity, the Clark County Community and Economic Development department has begun working with Charter Spectrum to connect areas of the county that do not have access to high-speed internet, a statement from the county said.

The first phase of the multi-phase project will consist of the construction of an additional 61 miles of infrastructure, and expand broadband infrastructure, to about 415 Clark County households.

Money for the project was made possible through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was passed by Congress in March.

“Access to high-speed internet has become essential for rural families in today’s economy,” Commissioner Melanie Flax Wilt, president of the Clark County Board of Commissioners, said. “Rural residents are workers, students, businesses and consumers and technology is a great equalizer that will allow our rural communities to prosper.”

Flax Wilt said she has struggled with broadband issues at her rural home. She called the cost to connect a single-household to broadband “hard to justify.”

“As someone who has lived in a rural area my whole adult life, I have gotten quotes on getting connected at both of my residences and the first one was somewhere around $13,000 to get a connection,” Flax Wilt said. “Then I moved actually closer to Springfield and the quote I got was around $40,000 to connect.”

Phase one of the project will begin early next year and is slated to be completed at the end of 2021. Clark County Administrator Jennifer Hutchinson said the first phase of the project was created with “bang for the buck” in mind, meaning households were selected based on how easily broadband could be expanded to reach them.

“It was very strategic in how we came up with it, in conjunction with Spectrum, on how we came up with the addresses and streets that we did,” Hutchinson said. “This is hopefully just phase one and then as soon as we can get some more grant funding or some additional funds down the road we can continue to try and expand.”

Hutchinson said the county’s goal is to eventually have 100% broadband connectivity.

Facts & Figures:

$2.9M: In CARES Act Funding uses to expand internet countywide

61: Miles of broadband infrastructure that will be built or expanded under the project

415: Clark County households that will be affected by the project

5: Percent of Clark County’s population currently does not have access to high-speed internet

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