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High-speed Internet is coming to the Key Peninsula.

Pierce County announced in a news release Monday that they are partnering with Comcast.

The agreement will “expand access to high-speed Internet services on the Key Peninsula,” the release said.

The Internet expansion will bring “fast and reliable fiber optic network and a full suite of services to more than 526 Key Peninsula homes and businesses,” according to the release.

The cost of the project is estimated at 5 million dollars. Pierce County is providing $3.75 million from the American Rescue Program Act.

“In July 2021, Pierce County was awarded $15 million under the federal American Rescue Program Act (ARPA) to help with efforts to bridge broadband gaps in the county,” Pierce County Communications Manager Erin Babbo told Gateway on Tuesday. All ARPA funds must be spent by 2026 and meet the grantor’s requirements.

The remaining costs of the Key Peninsula project will be covered by Comcast, Babbo said. Comcast will also build the infrastructure.

“Now more than ever, it’s critical that people have access to high-speed Internet,” said Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier. “Whether for work, school or leisure, we want to help all county residents take advantage of this important infrastructure.”

Pierce County and Comcast expect construction to begin around the end of this summer when they complete the project and begin the permitting process, Babbo said.

They estimate construction will be completed by the end of 2024, Babbo said.

“Once permits are obtained and construction begins on public rights-of-way, Comcast will create an online resource for residents seeking information about the network being built in their neighborhood, including answers to frequently asked questions and product and service details,” the release said. said:

Plans for this project began in November 2021, when Pierce County began looking for potential partners to expand broadband Internet access to areas of Pierce County identified as unserved or underserved, Babbo said.

“Comcast was one of the respondents selected for their proposal to serve addresses in the Northern Key Peninsula Broadband Development District,” Babbo said.

Large parts of the Key Peninsula do not have access to Internet service that meets minimum download speeds of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps upload, Babbo told Gateway.

Pierce County recognizes the public benefit that broadband can provide to the economic development and quality of life of local communities and businesses located in underserved and underserved areas,” Babbo said. “All of our communities should have access to this essential utility.”

How much will it cost the residents?

Once the expanded network is activated on the Key Peninsula, prices will vary by plan.

Comcast’s residential internet services range from $19.99 to $80 per month, according to their website, and business internet services range from $49.99 to $349.99 per month.

Residents will be able to sign up for the company’s Internet Essentials program, which provides low-cost, high-speed broadband for low-income households, according to Babbo.

The Interest Essentials program offers free internet to qualifying residents through an application process.

“Comcast has connected more than 21,000 households in Pierce County to high-speed Internet at home, many for the first time, through the Internet Essentials program,” Babbo said.

Others may qualify for the Affordable Connections program, Babbo said, which credits qualified households with $30 a month for Internet and cell service.

Aspen Shumpert is a reporter for The Peninsula Gateway. He grew up in Tacoma and graduated from Washington State University in May 2022. He joined The News Tribune in March 2022.

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