EPHRATA – A fast-internet connection during the COVID-19 pandemic has become a highly-coveted commodity. Grant PUD officials say more people are working and learning from home resulting in a record number of subscribers connecting to Grant PUD’s high-speed fiber-optic network.

“We are connecting people at a rate we have never seen before,” said Senior Manager of Wholesale Fiber, Russ Brethower as he shared the Wholesale Fiber Group’s quarterly update with the commission.

Through June, the year-to-date growth of new subscribers using the network was 2,173 customers. With more than 400 new customers receiving a fiber connection during each month of March, April, and May. The total new subscriber growth through June is just shy of the yearly goal for all of 2020, which is 2,475.

The year-to-date “take rate” – the percentage of users with access to the fiber network connecting via one of the independent service providers – is also ahead of the targeted yearly goal of 60%. Brethower told commissioners that even as new areas are released throughout the remainder of the year, he anticipates eclipsing the annual “take rate” goal. 

The utility says construction on expansion of the fiber network in all five areas that were scheduled for 2020 are expected to be complete by early 2021.

Grant PUD continues to target the end of 2023 for completing construction to all 40 build-out expansion areas.