Spokane Journal of Business

Ptera inks broadband contract with Cheney

City to exchange dark fiber access for service

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Cheney City Council has approved a contract with Liberty Lake-based telecommunications provider Ptera Inc. that will allow the city government to lease inactive fiber-optic lines to the company in exchange for broadband service.

Ptera will lease six strands of fiber and part of Cheney City Hall to conduct its operations for five years. The contract will be renewed automatically for three additional five-year terms. Instead of paying the city to lease the space and fiber lines, Ptera will provide broadband service to all municipal buildings.

Ptera approached the city about a year ago, city administrator Mark Schuler says, after learning that internet access in Cheney is sometimes unreliable or can’t meet consumer demand.

Cheney’s internet speed is the second most frequent complaint the city has heard over the past decade, Schuler says, the first being water supply issues that he says have been cleared up in the past year. 

“In the older areas of town, they have trouble sending even simple emails during high usage times,” Schuler says. “With the onset of streaming services ... streaming is becoming more important, and we need to provide reliable internet with speeds that can match the demand of our residents and businesses in town.”

The addition of Ptera as a service provider will also make Cheney a more appealing place for companies to do business, Schuler says.

“There’s a perception out there that the current providers in Cheney couldn’t provide the level of speed needed for business purposes,” he says.

The city’s current providers, CenturyLink Inc. and Cheney-based Davis Communications Inc., don’t provide cloud access, which Schuler says was a draw for a contract with Ptera.

The city also wanted to provide some redundancy, he says, by adding a third service provider.

Ptera will launch its broadband service, beginning with Cheney City Hall, within the next few months, Schuler says.

“They’ve got some work to do to build some infrastructure out here,” Schuler says. “They’ve already started mapping out some tower locations to make sure that they can provide broadband to the entire community.”

Ptera will offer service to residential and commercial customers in addition to serving the municipal government.

With the addition of Ptera as a service provider, Schuler says Cheney and Ptera are looking toward the future. 

“There’s a lot of growth that’s going to happen on the West Plains, in Cheney, and especially out into some of the unincorporated area between here and Airway Heights,” he says. “Ptera sees this as a great opportunity to lay a foundation for it to provide broadband access to potential residents and commercial interests in that area.”

The contract is renewable after five years. At that point, Schuler says the city will likely renegotiate its deal with Ptera in order to see some payment, as by that point the company likely will use Cheney’s fiber lines to serve nearby communities.

Virginia Thomas
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Reporter Virginia Thomas has worked at the Journal since 2017 and covers the banking and finance industries. As a reporter, she loves learning about Spokane's many growing industries. She enjoys travelling with her husband, snuggling with her cats, and cross stitching.

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