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Initiative seeks to 'Link Up Idaho' to fast internet

cable drums with orange fiber cable on a construction site
Hans Engbers/hansenn
Adobe Stock
Idaho's broadband delivery is patchy, in part because of its unique geography.

A stable internet connection is key in today's world and Idaho wants to ensure everyone has reliable access.

The state's Link Up Idaho initiative is asking the public for input about the strength of broadband coverage in their local communities.

Ramon Hobdey-Sanchez, broadband program manager for the Idaho Department of Commerce, said the information is crucial because the state is set to receive federal funding to help connect communities.

"These are historical funding opportunities as it relates to broadband in Idaho and our ability to connect the rural outskirts of our communities," Hobdey-Sanchez pointed out.

The federal funding is available through the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program, which is providing more than $42 billion to states to expand high-speed internet access.

Hobdey-Sanchez said Link Up Idaho is a jumping off point for the state developing its own broadband availability map, which will be a useful tool for making funding decisions. He emphasized a strong internet connection is crucial for telehealth appointments, remote work and online education.

Hobdey-Sanchez also noted businesses without access to high-speed internet, such as those in rural communities, could be missing out on economic opportunities.

"Broadband connectivity and the quality and reliability of that connectivity is key for small rural America trying to develop their local economies," Hobdey-Sanchez stressed.

Hobdey-Sanchez added Idaho's mountainous geography provides some challenges for installing the infrastructure necessary for high-speed broadband.