CLALLAM COUNTY – The Hoh Tribe on the Washington coast has finally reached the long-sought goal of acquiring broadband access thanks to SpaceX Starlink satellites and a special division of the State Department of Commerce.
Russ Elliott, Director of the Washington State Broadband Office, explains.
“So the Washington State Broadband Office has the goals of getting everybody service by 2024. The Hoh Tribe called us early on in covid, sharing that they had a lot of challenges around being connected or staying connected. They definitely had very limited internet and they were very nervous about the future.”
Here’s Melvinjohn Ashue, Vice Chairman of the Hoh Indian Tribe.
“The Hoh Tribe is 23 miles south of Forks, Washington. We’re very remote. The last eight years, I feel like we’ve had been paddling upriver with a spoon and almost getting nowhere with Internet to the reservation.”
Elliott-“We introduced the Starlink folks to the Hoh Tribe. The Hoh Tribe shared their story. Sterling felt very compelled to come out and see what they could do to help.”
Ashue-“And it seemed like out of nowhere SpaceX just came up and just catapulted us into the 21st century. Our youth are able to do education online, participate in videos. Tele-health is no longer going to be an issue, as well as tele-behavioral health, tele-mental health.”
It’s all part of Washington state’s goal to have high-speed internet access for all by 2024. One important step in that process has been this year’s effort by the Department of Commerce to get everyone with a computer to take the Access and Speed Survey, a 1-minute test of your internet speed that you can take with a simple keystroke.
Elliott-“Take the speed test, enter the information, get your folks in your neighborhood to do that so we can start to see that there is a pattern of need or demand. And once we see that, we can start to help you. We can be active in the conversation with providers. We can be active in potentially bringing some of these emerging technologies or way, and we can be active in helping you pursue the funds, whether state or federal.”
(Broadband Office photo: Melvinjohn Ashue)