Senator Cantwell Works with Makah Tribe, CenturyLink to Bring Broadband to Neah Bay

Broadband infrastructure key for unlocking opportunity in rural WA

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Makah Tribe, and CenturyLink, cut ribbon on new high speed broadband internet in Neah Bay, Washington. The new broadband services will help spur economic development in and around Neah Bay, and will increase access to educational and healthcare services for local residents.

Senator Cantwell has been working with the Makah and CenturyLink to see the project to completion, including federal agency permitting. The announcement was celebrated in Neah Bay with a traditional Makah salmon bake, a ceremonial ribbon cutting, and a service demonstration.

“Broadband is a necessity. Without it, rural communities can’t take advantage of the opportunities presented by our increasingly connected economy,” said Cantwell. “Before there was broadband access at Neah Bay, kids didn’t have high-speed internet to do their homework and entrepreneurs were unable to start online businesses or even develop a basic web-presence. Thanks to the work between CenturyLink and the Makah Tribe, Neah Bay has access to broadband that will support local families and the economy.”

CenturyLink will provide internet speeds between 25 and 40 mbps.

“Gaining community access to Centurylink is a milestone a long time in the making. Our members are happy to hear that we may have faster internet speeds but this is bigger than that,” said Nate Tyler, Chairman of the Makah Tribe. “Broadband access will open the door to providing better services faster. In order to protect our way of life at Makah, security and safety are paramount. Broadband puts new possibilities in reach that can change the way we may operate in health care, law enforcement, oil spill response, and education. We'd like to thank Senator Cantwell for the dedicated and invaluable guidance that she has provided us on these issues.”

40 percent of Americans in rural areas and 68 percent of Americans on tribal lands do not have access to high-speed internet. Over 200,000 Washingtonians lack access to FCC standard broadband. More than 400,000 people in Washington have access to only one provider, leaving them no options to switch.

“We’re excited to help bridge the urban-rural digital divide by building out our broadband services in Neah Bay,” said Sue Anderson, CenturyLink vice president of operations for Washington.  “We understand how important it is for our Neah Bay customers, including the Makah Tribe, to have fast, affordable access to the internet, so CenturyLink made this expansion of our high-speed internet service a priority.”

For years, Senator Cantwell has supported the expansion of broadband access to unserved and underserved communities. In 2010, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) — which provided $40 million in federal grants for expanding access to high-speed, affordable broadband to underserved rural areas — the senator helped secure funding for broadband projects for over 35,000 people and 1,400 businesses in Washington state. Later that year, she contributed to the dedication of $84.3 million in federal stimulus funds for the Northwest Open Access Network to build more fiber optic networks in rural Washington state.

More recently, Cantwell has called on the FCC and the White House to carry out broadband reforms and invest in improving internet access in tribal and rural communities. In early 2017, she also joined Senate Democrats in announcing an infrastructure blueprint that would dedicate $20 billion to improving broadband quality and access in rural and underserved communities.