Municipal Broadband Providers in Washington

In spite of state regulation which sets strict requirements and limits for municipal broadband services, Washington has 16 municipal networks in place as of 2021 out of 332 total in the US.

This places them at the sixth highest count of municipal networks among US states, tied with North Carolina and just behind California and Minnesota.

The majority of municipal networks in Washington state are open access fiber networks provided through Public Utility Districts (PUDs) or ports, as a workaround for regulation against offering broadband directly as a utility.1 In most cases, the network is operated as an “open access” network, meaning that private providers can lease fiber from the PUD to provide service locally, usually alongside other internet providers on the same network.

Only 3 municipal broadband networks in Washington state offer residential service directly to consumers, without private ISPs involved.

8 of the 16 municipal internet providers in Washington are Public Utility Districts, while the rest are either operated by ports, electric co-ops, or by the city itself as a municipal service.

Washington State Municipal Broadband Providers Summary

ProviderNetwork TypeServices Offered
Access Anacortes Fiber InternetFiberResidential FTTH, Enterprise.
Benton PUDFiber Open Access Network Enterprise.
Chelan County PUDFiber Open Access Network Enterprise.
Click! Network (via Rainier Connect)Fiber Enterprise.
Columbia iConnectFiber, Wireless, SatelliteResidential FTTH .
Douglas County Community Network (DCCN)Fiber Open Access Network Enterprise, Anchor institutions and municipal buildings.
Ellensburg City FiberFiber Enterprise.
Franklin PUDFiber Open Access Network Enterprise.
Grant PUDFiber Open Access Network Enterprise.
Grays Harbor PUDFiber Open Access Network Enterprise.
Mount Vernon Fiber ServicesDark Fiber Enterprise, Anchor institutions and municipal buildings.
Okanogan County PUDFiber Open Access Network Enterprise.
Pacific County PUDFiber Open Access Network Enterprise.
Pend Oreille PUDFiber Open Access Network Enterprise.
Port of Whitman CountyDark Fiber, Fiber Open Access Network Enterprise.
Rock Island FiberFiberResidential FTTH, Enterprise.

Residential Municipal Broadband Service and FTTH in Washington

The following municipal broadband providers in Washington offer residential services directly rather than through open access or public-private partnerships:

Access Anacortes Fiber Internet

Access Anacortes is the a new municipal broadband project in Washington, and one of few operated by the city directly rather than as an open access PUD network. As of 2020, more than 300 customers are already receiving service in a pilot while the network is actively built out to pass more houses around the city. The government website maintains a map showing which locations have drops installed. The city also shares the finance details and line length of the network, which is telling — of the 40 total miles of fiber, about half is dedicated to backbone while the other half is purely invested into fiber drops to individual buildings. This high drop investement is why some other networks in this list opt for fiber to the curb or fiber to the transformer rather than a full fiber-to-the-home build. Access Anacortes Fiber Internet launched residential internet services in 2020.2

Columbia iConnect

Columbia iConnect is an ISP in the Walla Walla area that operates as a subsidiary of Columbia REA, a utility coop. Columbia iConnect also offers satellite internet as a reseller of ViaSat. As of 2020, they are expanding a small Fiber footprint around Mill Creek.

Rock Island Fiber

Rock Island Fiber is one of the most complex and interesting municipal broadband networks in the state, which started as a private ISP but was bought out by and is currently run as a subsidiary of the local electric co-op, Orcas Power and Light Cooperative. The total cost of the network was about $25 Million, which is high for a network serving only about 17,000 island residents. The cost was high due to much of the network being underwater between islands, and the extreme weather associated with the area. Rock Island Fiber launched residential internet services in 2015.3

Open Access networks and public/private partnerships

The following municipal broadband providers in Washington offer residential and/or business services by leasing capacity to private ISPs:

Access Anacortes Fiber Internet

Access Anacortes is the a new municipal broadband project in Washington, and one of few operated by the city directly rather than as an open access PUD network. As of 2020, more than 300 customers are already receiving service in a pilot while the network is actively built out to pass more houses around the city. The government website maintains a map showing which locations have drops installed. The city also shares the finance details and line length of the network, which is telling — of the 40 total miles of fiber, about half is dedicated to backbone while the other half is purely invested into fiber drops to individual buildings. This high drop investement is why some other networks in this list opt for fiber to the curb or fiber to the transformer rather than a full fiber-to-the-home build. Access Anacortes Fiber Internet launched residential internet services in 2020.4

Benton PUD

Benton Public Utility District maintains an open access fiber network used by several local ISPs who lease capacity to offer FTTH, wireless, and business services. The network was started in 2002 and is widely considered a case study in a well-managed public broadband asset, as it generates $2M revenue on an initial $17M investment, with most operating costs like customer service and marketing taken on by participating private ISPs.

Chelan County PUD

Chelan County Public Utility District maintains a network of community hotspots and and open access fiber network utilized by private ISPs to deliver fiber residential service within the county. The PUD website maintains an address search feature for residents to find and compare options locally.

Click! Network (via Rainier Connect)

Click! Network is a municipally owned fiber network in the Tacoma area. As of March 2020, service is provided to residential users through a partnership with Rainier Connect, a private company. The Click! network still exists, and is still owned by the municipality, but is managed and sold via the RainierConnect brand. 5

Columbia iConnect

Columbia iConnect is an ISP in the Walla Walla area that operates as a subsidiary of Columbia REA, a utility coop. Columbia iConnect also offers satellite internet as a reseller of ViaSat. As of 2020, they are expanding a small Fiber footprint around Mill Creek.

Douglas County Community Network (DCCN)

The Douglas County Community Network (known locally as DCCN) was installed by the county Public Utility District (PUD) for system monitoring. It was later expanded to provide residential, business, and anchor institution service throughout the area. The use of Fiber-to-the-Transformer network installation allowed the district to install service at approximately 75% the cost of a full Fiber-to-the-Home network, while still permitting speeds far greater than cable or DSL. Per state law, service is not provided by the PUD directly but is leased to private ISPs who sell service over the network.

Franklin PUD

Like most PUD fiber systems in Washington state, Franklin PUD leases their fiber lines to private providers, who manage all residential, commercial, and wireless service options. Franklin PUD is part of the NoaNet system, with open access service available from several ISPs including Desert Winds Wireless and iFiber. NoaNet is commonly touted as a strong example of well-managed and fiscally responsible public fiber assets. 6

Grant PUD

The Grant PUD is one of several public utility district fiber networks offering open access to private providers. The network has been slowly expanding since the 90s and is still growing as of 2021. They maintain an interactive map of their coverage area with a full list of participating private ISPs at their site.

Grays Harbor PUD

Grant Harbur PUD offers a variety of telecom services on an open access network model, as well as dark fiber leasing, colocation facilities, and other enterprise lease services. They also leveraged their network to offer free community WiFi during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020–2021. 7

Mount Vernon Fiber Services

Mount Vernon first started building out a fiber ring in 1995, making them one of the pioneers of municipal fiber in Washington and the US. To date, the city claims around $100,000 in annual savings thanks to the fiber, which is leased out to private providers for a 15% cut of gross income. While there are some residential users like Wave Broadband locally, most applications are business connections and anchor institutions like schools and medical facilities. The network has drawn businesses to the area, with Blank Law and Technology paying only 25% of the costs they paid for connectivity to private providers in nearby Seattle. 8

Okanogan County PUD

Okanogan PUD operates a fiber backbone in the county, and has been using grant funding to expand the network starting in 2011. It’s part of the NOANet open access network system in Washington state. Services are primarily wireless, via partnership with private ISPs leasing on the network and handling last-mile hardware.

Pacific County PUD

Pacific County PUD is one of several municipal fiber networks in Washington state that makes excess bandwidth available to private providers on an open access model.

Pend Oreille PUD

Pend Oreille PUD is part of NOANet and leases fiber through the public utility to private providers including iFiber and Concept Communication. Local government figures have broached the possibility of offering service directly to consumers in rural areas in the past, but this is currently not possible to due to state law prohibiting direct sales by PUDs. 9

Port of Whitman County

The Port of WHitman County dark fiber and open access fiber network is a unique setup which takes advantage of provisions in Washington state law which allow ports as well as PUDs to build and lease fiber networks and dark fiber on open access models. As of 2020, the port is partnered with Ziply Fiber and is expanding Fiber-to-the-Home in more rural parts of the county. This new network build will also be maintained on an open access model, according to press releases issued by the port Commission. 10

Rock Island Fiber

Rock Island Fiber is one of the most complex and interesting municipal broadband networks in the state, which started as a private ISP but was bought out by and is currently run as a subsidiary of the local electric co-op, Orcas Power and Light Cooperative. The total cost of the network was about $25 Million, which is high for a network serving only about 17,000 island residents. The cost was high due to much of the network being underwater between islands, and the extreme weather associated with the area. Rock Island Fiber launched residential internet services in 2015.11

Non-Residential Municipal Broadband Providers

Ellensburg City Fiber

Ellensburg first began exploring the idea of building a city-owned network in 2017, when increased pricing for business service from Charter Communications convinced city council that building their own could be cheaper. Since then, the network has been slow expanding and adding businesses and fiber lines around the downtown area. It is currently only available for business use. 12

This page is based on a database of municipal broadband services maintained by ConnectWashington.com. This page updates automatically as we update the database on a quarterly basis. The last modification was made 2021 February.


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Page Summary
  • Washington currently regulates and limits municipal broadband under §54.16.330, which prohibits the direct sale of consumer broadband services as a utility.
  • Open Access Networks operated by Public Utility Districts (PUDs) are common in Washington, due to the restriction on PUDs selling service directly.
  • Several PUDs in Washington own and operate NoaNet, an open access wholesale provider and emergency service delivery system.

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Last Update: 2021
Published: January 08, 2021
CC BY-ND 4.0

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