Business Community

Faster internet coming to parts of Key Peninsula, county says

Posted on February 1st, 2023 By:

Pierce County and Comcast recently announced an agreement to expand access to high-speed Internet to part of the Key Peninsula. 

The county will contribute $3.75 million to the $5 million project to improve service to an estimated 526 homes and businesses. The public money comes from federal funding provided through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. 

Comcast provides the remaining $1.25 million. 

Key Peninsula North

The project will improve service in what Pierce County called the Key Peninsula North area. It’s the northeastern-most corner of Pierce County, largely along Highway 302 east of the Key Peninsula Highway. 

The Key Peninsula North Broadband Incentive District is highlighted in magenta on this map.

Construction is expected to begin in six to nine months and wrap up by the end of 2024. Permitting and other delays could push the timeline back. A Pierce County program to encourage improved broadband access allows for expedited permit review. 

Other Broadband Incentive Districts in Pierce County include the Puyallup/White River region; the Nisqually region; the area around Alder Lake in south Pierce County; and Key Peninsula South, essentially Home and beyond. 

“Now, more than ever, it is crucial that people have access to high-speed Internet,” Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier said in a news release. “Whether for work, school or entertainment, we want to help all County residents enjoy the benefits of this important infrastructure.” 

Comcast said the Key Peninsula project will be the company’s first all-fiber build in Washington state. 

Comcast promised to provide more information once permits are complete. 

‘Available speeds simply are not high enough’

A 2019 study on broadband access commissioned by Pierce County found that in rural areas of the county, “costs are too high, competition is too entrenched, or market demand is too low for providers serve rural areas without public support.” 

“For many of the rural areas, including areas of Gig Harbor and the Key Peninsula and areas outside of the population centers, available speeds simply are not high enough to enable many functions needed for day-to-day household functions, much less for attracting key economic sectors,” the report said. 

The northern Key Peninsula area currently is served primarily by DSL service, offering speeds in the 25 to 50 mbps range. The improved fiber service is expected to offer almost exponentially faster service of up to 100 gbps for business customers.