HCC Awarded Public Works Grant to Bring Service to Mason/Thurston County Line

Hood Canal Communications (HCC), an independent cable and broadband provider serving rural Mason County, Washington, announced today that it has been awarded a grant from the WA Public Works Board to bring broadband connectivity to the Mason/Thurston county border.

The entire project is estimated to cost over $240,000. Broadband connectivity will be brought to both residences and businesses in the service area, offering gigabit (1,000 Mbps) broadband internet, HD streaming television and critical phone service to a currently underserved area. The entire project will be built using high-speed fiber optic lines, extending all the way to become fiber the home (FTTH).

“We’re thrilled to be bringing this level of connectivity to these underserved residents and businesses,” said HCC’s Vice President and General Manager Mike Oblizalo. “Washington State’s goal is to bring 150 Mbps service to all residences. However, we’re surpassing that to bring Gigabit service to this area for optimal experience and futureproofing.”

The added gigabit connectivity will be powered by HCC’s internet backbone. The backbone was upgraded in 2019, comprising of two geographically diverse fiber-optic cable connections, each capable of providing 100 gigabits per second of throughput to the public internet. It is the largest and fastest internet backbone in Mason County.

“Backbone” connections are used to connect a local internet service provider’s network facility to the rest of the world. This backbone connection allows users to access websites and other online resources anywhere in the world. HCC first looked at increasing the speed of its backbone connections over a year ago, with an eye on future growth in its existing customer base and a desire to create the infrastructure needed to support further economic growth in the area. Working in collaboration with engineers at its “upstream” network provider, Wave Broadband, the company undertook to design and construct two new fiber optic connections with physically diverse paths, connecting its network facilities in Union, Washington to Port Orchard and Tukwila, Washington, respectively. 

HCC’s backbone infrastructure upgrade and Public Works Board grant add to the company’s track record of connecting underserved communities. HCC recently completed its Connect Cushman grant, a $2.3 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service Community Connect Grant program, to build a broadband network serving Lake Cushman. HCC contributed another $352,000 for the project.

“Upgrading our backbone infrastructure was a major step forward for rural broadband and connecting our community with the rest of the world,” Oblizalo said. “Knowing that those stable, high-speed connections are available has paved the way for opportunities like our current Public Works Board grant.”

The new high-speed internet connections support HCC’s existing 6,300+ broadband subscribers with improved network performance and reliability, while also positioning Mason County as an attractive destination for commercial growth and new business development. The increased connection speed also gives HCC the opportunity to expand its network’s “co-hosting” facilities, with enough bandwidth to power remote servers for any high-tech companies that might consider establishing a corporate foothold in the area.

“Living in a rural area can provide you with some amazing opportunities: lower cost of living, space, peace and quiet, lower stress, lower crime, and generally a more active lifestyle. However, economic stability and growth today requires a few basic needs and one high-speed connection truly a necessity, not a luxury,” said Jennifer Baria, Executive Director of the Economic Development Council of Mason County. “Giving our rural communities broadband access and developing greater capacity helps ensure that we can connect worldwide, utilize educational opportunities that enable us to find future entrepreneurial success, and succeed in the online economy. Access to broadband rises opportunities and unemployment falls. The EDC is in full support of capacity development of this vital piece of infrastructure!”