First Step Internet

Central North Idaho Regional Broadband Network Expansion

First Step Internet proposes to build a regional network of 10 microwave towers to extend high-capacity Internet service in the rural counties of Latah, Idaho, Clearwater, Lewis, and Nez Perce in north-central Idaho. The project intends to directly connect 42 anchor institutions, including healthcare facilities, emergency response agencies, libraries, and government offices, as well as institutions serving the Nez Perce Tribe. The 550-mile network plans to offer speeds of 50 Mbps to 100 Mbps for anchor institutions and facilitate more affordable broadband Internet service for local consumers, including as many as 21,000 households and 700 businesses, by enabling local Internet service providers to connect to the project’s open network. In addition, the Nez Perce Tribe has already made plans to use the new network to provide enhanced last-mile services.

Total Award: 
BTOP In Action
Construction workers bolt together sections of the wireless tower

First Step Internet deployed 551 miles of fiber, completed construction on nine microwave towers, and completed 72 fixed microwave paths through June 2013. The new 550-mile high-speed fiber network extends broadband Internet coverage across Idaho’s rural counties of Latah, Idaho, Clearwater, Lewis, and Nez Perce. First Step Internet also activated a wireless area network that covered more than 150 miles and connected approximately 45 community anchor institutions, including libraries, schools, health clinics, and government buildings. Once completed, the network will provide wireless Internet access to more than 20,000 households, 700 businesses, and 50 community anchor institutions.

First Step Internet’s network will also complement the Nez Perce Tribe’s BTOP grant that is providing high-speed, affordable broadband services across 1,200 square miles of tribal land. When completed, these two grants will provide complete broadband coverage for members of the tribe.

Reports and Documents
Award Documents