BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE: Governor Katie Hobbs & Wecom Fiber Break Ground on High-Speed Broadband Internet for Mohave, La Paz Counties & Hualapai Reservation

Published by The Bee News

November 15, 2023

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State, local, federal & tribal officials kickoff construction of transformative project

Kingman, AZ – Yesterday, Governor Katie Hobbs and Wecom Fiber were joined by local, federal and tribal officials as they broke ground on a project that will deliver affordable, high-speed Internet to an estimated 32,500 Arizonans across Mohave and La Paz counties and the Hualapai Reservation.

“We are on track to bridge Arizona’s deep digital divide with this historic investment, connecting unserved and under-served Arizonans, especially in tribal and rural communities,” said Governor Katie Hobbs. “As the reliance on digital services increases, it’s critical that we ensure our people, businesses, and community services are capable of handling the demand, and I am laser focused on getting that done.”

Construction of the 2,250 miles of multi-gigabit broadband fiber will facilitate an estimated 250 jobs in the near-term, but has much broader economic, educational and other benefits for Arizona communities that have gone without for years.

“Wecom Fiber is thrilled to play a critical role in closing the digital divide by bringing affordable, high-speed Internet to tens of thousands of Arizonans across western Arizona and the Hualapai Reservation,” said Wecom CEO Paul Fleming. “Reliable broadband is no longer a luxury; it is essential infrastructure for businesses needing access to the online marketplace, jobseekers, students engaged in remote learning, patients utilizing telehealth and so much more. We thank Governor Hobbs and our state, local, tribal and federal partners for their support of vital project.”

The ambitious, $54 million project is powered by a public-private partnership that includes state and federal grants. In 2022, the Kingman-based Internet provider Wecom was awarded a competitive, $10 million Arizona Broadband Development Grant to bring high-speed Internet to Mohave and La Paz counties. Separately, Wecom was awarded a $3.2 million USDA ReConnect Grant to construct broadband fiber for the Hualapai Reservation.

“Our beautiful Hualapai Reservation is remote, but we will have the world at our fingertips thanks to reliable broadband service,” said Hualapai Chairwoman Sherry J. Parker. “This will be a real game-changer for the Hualapai people and our businesses, public safety, medical facilities, schools, libraries and more.”

Currently, hundreds of thousands of Arizonans lack access to high-speed Internet. Closing that digital divide is a Hobbs administration priority – connecting rural businesses with the online marketplace, helping students, and facilitating telehealth, public safety and countless other opportunities.

“Rural Arizona deserves and requires the same reliable, high-speed Internet available in big cities,” said Chairwoman Holly Irwin of the La Paz County Board of Supervisors. “We are pleased to work with Wecom in supporting this broadband expansion, which will improve economic opportunity and the quality of life across western Arizona.”

“Mohave County has been a leader in the push for affordable, high-speed Internet because we recognize how important it is to our residents,” said Chairman Travis Lingenfelter of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors. “Access to reliable broadband should not depend on a person’s home address, which is why I look forward to the completion of this project and continued expansion of high-speed Internet access across western Arizona and rural communities statewide.”

In February, Wecom broadband Internet will begin for the first customers in Mohave and La Paz counties, as well as the Hualapai Reservation. The tribal project is scheduled for completion in April 2024, with the Mohave and La Paz counties portion finished by June 2025.

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