Inyo County Awarded Broadband Grant

March 6, 2024

Inyo County has been awarded a $110,500 Rural Development Broadband Technical Assistance (BTA) Grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development. The grant will specifically be used to expand high-speed wireless Internet to areas of Death Valley National Park.


According to Regional Broadband Coordinator Scott Armstrong, the funding is hoped to result in shovel-ready, last-mile, detailed network engineering designs for Internet service to Furnace Creek, an exceptionally remote area of the county that includes a large resort and residential housing for National Park Service employees. 


“Despite the popularity of Death Valley National Park – the Park sees approximately 1.7 million visitors annually – Internet service providers have expressed little interest over the last several years in constructing and providing wireline broadband Internet service in that area because the communities are too small to provide a reliable return on investment that includes constructing infrastructure,” Armstrong explained. “With funding from this BTA grant, we plan to develop a design for the Furnace Creek area that will enable community-based cooperatives to provide faster, more reliable Internet service to that area until the State’s middle-mile network is constructed in the region in 2025 or 2026.”


Armstrong added that once the network engineering designs are complete, the county will seek funding for the actual construction of the last-mile infrastructure to make it more feasible for Internet service providers to deliver services in the Furnace Creek area. 


The Inyo County Board of Supervisors has made it a priority to support development, expansion, and implementation of regional broadband initiatives to provide residents and businesses with reliable, affordable high-speed Internet service and devices, and the training and skills to use them. The Board recognizes that providing these essentials to as many homes, schools, and businesses as possible can help create digital equity and make positive impacts on everything from education and healthcare, to workforce and economic development, to public safety.  


The BTA grant does not include a cost share or matching requirement. The funds were appropriated under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) of 2021.