February 18 was a milestone day for the Methow Valley Broadband Action Team (BAT).
BAT was formed in 2018 and since then has conducted a broadband feasibility study and secured a $50,000 grant funding from the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) with matching funds from Okanogan County and the Twisp PDA. The funding made it possible to hire consulting firm Tilson Technology Management, Inc. who have been retained to work on a 4-phase planning project to bring reliable internet to under-served areas in the Methow Valley.
On the 18th, BAT and Tilson met with 20 key stakeholders in our community including representatives from local healthcare providers, the schools, public safety and emergency services, businesses, local government and homeowners associations to brainstorm the question, “How does better broadband support my organization and its work?” In addition, the group spent time reflecting on what is and what is not the problem with existing broadband service. The outcome was a 5-year vision of what our broadband infrastructure should like in the Methow Valley.
The day wrapped up with a community meeting where more than 50 people came to the TwispWorks campus and joined in a conversation answering the question, “When it comes to local broadband service, what do you want to see improved?” The feedback from both meetings informed the key priorities of BAT moving forward: making broadband a public utility, ensuring access to educational resources, building a solution that will provide consistent access and download and upload speeds and creating a variable rate structure that reflect the actual speeds that are delivered to customers. BAT and Tilson will take this feedback and create a GAP analysis report and demand assessment for the future needs of broadband for our community.