How the
Northwest Connects

Airing on Viewpoint: Connectivity in Rural Areas

America is getting a closer look at the need for public and private high speed broadband partnerships in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. This topic was spotlighted on national public television in a docuseries called Viewpoint, hosted by actor Dennis Quaid. The recently released segment features several associates close to NoaNet, including interviews with long-time Mason County PUD Commissioner and former president of the NoaNet board of directors Linda Gott, and Andy Leneweaver, Deputy E911 Director – Wash. Emergency Management Division.

In the documentary, Quaid explains that advances in technology have revolutionized the way we conduct business, and more efficient mediums are leading to even greater advances. Gott illustrates how Americans in rural areas lack adequate broadband to be able manage daily life’s demands. While retail Internet service providers have done a good job providing service in more populated areas, she noted, it’s more difficult for them to make their return on investment in rural towns. This is where public entities such as PUDs and rural electric co-ops have stepped up with a cost-of-service user model to build out rural broadband infrastructure with service providers providing customer engagement and OTT services. In many communities, “it’s a public-private partnership that’s going to get us to the next level,” Gott notes.

Showing actual sites in Washington State where public broadband hotspots were installed, glimpses of broadband infrastructure creation in action, and by sharing interviews with leaders in public utilities leaders and emergency operations, this Viewpoint segment drives the message that nearly every household in America could and should have adequate broadband. The takeaway: With public and private entities working together, backed by more available federal funding, it’s possible.

Reflecting on the pandemic, Leneweaver commented that “lack of broadband access limited children’s abilities to get educated, families’ abilities to get healthcare, and required telehealth and telecommuting to school.” With quickly advancing technology, he notes that public citizens are better able to communicate, whether that’s in daily life or contacting emergency responders.

The goal of the Viewpoint Project is to “enlighten the audience by delivering diverse informational and educational documentaries on a variety of issues and topics.” The Viewpoint Project is on the cutting edge of the television documentary industry, producing top-quality programming for public television. Many know of host Dennis Quaid’s work from his wide variety of dramatic and comedic movie roles, such as Breaking Away, The Big Easy, Great Balls of Fire, The Parent Trap, Soul Surfer, and many more. View the segment here.

Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet) is a not-for-profit wholesale telecommunications mutual corporation that has been serving Washington State since 2000. As a mission-driven organization, NoaNet focuses on bringing world-class telecommunications technology to hard-to-reach communities which lack access to high-speed affordable broadband services