Updated: Jan 7, 2020
Article Writer: Marcee Hartzell - June 24, 2019
COEUR D’ALENE — In many ways, getting broadband internet to rural Idaho feels familiar, said Mike Kennedy, president of Intermax Networks.
“A lot of people are contemplating how similar this is to rural electrification in the 1930s,” Kennedy mused.
As with rural electrification, the government is playing a large part in improving broadband internet in rural areas. Last fall, Intermax received $940,000 to improve service in Idaho’s panhandle from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which offered Idaho a share of the $1.49 billion it provided nationwide through its Phase II grants, funded by the Universal Service Fund. Intermax committed to providing 25 megabit per second (Mbps) download speed to 42 census block groups in north Idaho over the next five years.
In more metropolitan parts of the region, such as Coeur d’Alene itself, there might even be two fiber providers.
“But you get out to Rathdrum or Athol, there are none, and no expectations of it, due to density,” Kennedy said. “We have to figure out how to get those folks plugged in.”
In addition to those cities, Intermax also provides internet service to Hayden, Spirit Lake and Pinehurst, as well as operating Sandpoint’s city-owned fiber optic cable.
Much of Intermax’ service is provided through fixed wireless, which means the company puts a transmitter someplace central and tall – typically, in rural Idaho, the town’s water tower – and puts a receiver, which looks like a satellite dish, on customers’ homes. If the