CEO Message — March 2022

Back to Normal...? How Exciting!

scott peters headshotWe have some exciting things coming up this year.

First, we are pleased to announce that our 2022 Annual Members’ Meeting will be held on Thursday, April 21, and it will be an in-person event! Finally, after a two-year hiatus, it looks like we will be able to get together again. We will hold the Annual Meeting in our Walla Walla Service Center warehouse. We’ve got plenty of room for everybody, and social distancing protocols will be observed according to the most current state guidelines, so barring some sort of major step backward, we look forward to seeing all of you on April 21st! The final details will be published as soon as possible through our website, social media, and the April issue of this magazine, but please mark your calendars, and bring your appetite!

We also have some exciting things happening in the world of broadband internet connectivity! Through participation in Federal and State infrastructure programs, Columbia iConnect will soon be offering 1Gbps fiber optic internet service in the Touchet area.

Rural connectivity has always been a challenge. The high cost of building fiber-optic networks, along with the smaller populations in rural areas, make it difficult, and frankly, unattractive from a purely business perspective, for private companies to invest in less populated areas. The Federal Communications Commission has made funds available through the RDOF (Rural Development Opportunity Fund) that will allow local carriers to upgrade and expand existing networks and build new infrastructure, bringing fiberoptic internet to our local communities.

We are hopeful that Touchet is just the start of an ever-expanding network of 1Gbs internet. Faster, more dependable internet is better internet…better gaming and streaming obviously, but fiber-optic internet also brings the potential for expanded telemedicine options for our local healthcare community and more robust online education opportunities for our students.

“Our targeted launch date for this new service is mid to late summer of this year,” says Bob Greene, Columbia REA Manager of Communications and IT.

“As part of our new service Touchet customers will also be able to sign up for basic VoIP telephone service, which comes with options such as E911 call routing,” adds Bob.

E911 routes any emergency call made from a VoIP phone system to the correct local 911 dispatch service.

“This is very exciting, and it is the very reason that the FCC made some funds available for these projects that would have never been built through other methods.”

For more details about eligibility and availability of this service and others in your area, please email our Columbia iConnect representatives.

Be safe, stay healthy,
Scott Peters, CEO