The lands of the Colville Confederated Tribes make up much of the south portion of Ferry County, Washington, while the north county is the historic home of a vibrant mining industry. In recent years, Ferry County has struggled to attract new investment. Its low population density and rugged landscape have made the deployment of broadband infrastructure a challenge. New and existing businesses are deterred by the lack of options, and residents lack access to telehealth and distance learning applications. To address these issues, the Confederated Colville Tribes and Ferry County formed a Broadband Action Team (BAT) and received grant funding from the State of Washington’s Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) to develop an action plan for increasing connectivity across the region. Magellan was selected to assist the BAT with developing this action plan.
The difficult terrain and sparse population density in Ferry County and on Colville Confederated Tribe lands provides little incentive for traditional internet service providers to build infrastructure in the area. Residents and businesses in both the north and south portions of the County were faced with a lack of options for coverage, low speeds, and high costs to connect. The lack of broadband investment made it a challenge to conduct business, receive job training, or complete homework. Residents living in this digital divide also struggled to access community services and healthcare. There was a general feeling among the community of falling behind, impairing the ability to attract new residents and commercial activity.
Magellan developed an action plan for the Colville Confederated Tribes and Ferry County BAT to attract investment in broadband infrastructure. Our team worked with the BAT to bring together stakeholders from within and outside of the community to gain an understanding of their needs and willingness to bring resources to the table to partner with the Tribes and County. We identified parties that already had infrastructure in the area and were interested in expanding their services, new entrants that were interested in partnering with the County and Tribes to serve previously unserved areas, and entities that would not only provide infrastructure, but would bring jobs and training directly to the local population. Magellan’s team also identified key funding sources that would allow the Tribes and County to expand its own infrastructure, allowing for increased control to ensure key locations are served. We provided the BAT with a high-level network design that capitalized on existing infrastructure to reach critical locations.
The BAT is continuing its work with Magellan by exploring options for conducting a feasibility study for the Colville Tribes and by evaluating options for partnerships, ensuring a more connected future for its residents and businesses.