BOISE – A central Idaho Internet company will use $2.4 million in federal stimulus money to build eight broadband towers that will deliver high-speed Internet access to businesses, hospitals, schools and homes in five rural counties.
Most towns in the area have some sort of Internet access. But transmitting large files or watching videos online can be painfully slow. For example, smaller hospitals sometimes have trouble sending radiology files to a larger hospital in Lewiston.
The company that received the money, Moscow-based First Step Internet, couldn’t afford to invest in the infrastructure without the federal government’s investment, said Mike Hall, area sales manager.
“It’s harder for us to make a capital argument to put in that level of equipment,” he said. “There’s not a large enough population that’s going to generate income.”
Most of the towers will be put up over the next few months on rural mountaintops in the five counties: Latah, Idaho, Clearwater, Lewis and Nez Perce.
The money is part of $7.2 billion in federal stimulus money going to underserved areas nationwide.