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The Port of Skagit Board of Commissioners voted Monday to partner with the Port of Whitman to manage the fiber optic network being constructed over the next two years by the Port of Skagit and the Skagit Public Utility District.

The agreement will allow the the Port of Skagit to share common networking software with the Port of Whitman, which has managed its own fiber optic network for the past 15 years, Port of Skagit Community Outreach Administrator Andrew Entrikin said.

“They’ve been a pioneer in this open access fiber model,” Entrikin said of the Port of Whitman, located north of Pullman.

The agreement will also allow the ports to share other resources, such as labor for administration and billing.

“As (the Port of Skagit fiber optic network) is in the startup stage, this allows us to identify the real resource needs for the network before we commit to hiring additional staff,” Entrikin said.

In 2019, the Port of Skagit will pay the Port of Whitman $27,500 for its services.

Beginning in 2020, the ports will switch to a revenue-share model, with Whitman receiving 30 percent of Skagit’s revenue from the network for the first $250,000, 20 percent for the next $250,000 and 10 percent of revenue exceeding $500,000.

The Port of Skagit’s $2.8 million network, which will stretch from Anacortes to Concrete and provide high-speed internet, is set to be complete in 2020.

Segment one, in Anacortes, is complete. Segments two and three, which include Anacortes to Burlington, Anacortes to Mount Vernon and Anacortes to La Conner, are set to be complete in early 2019.

Segment four, which will bring the network’s backbone to Sedro-Woolley, is halfway through the design process. Segment five, from Sedro-Woolley to Hamilton, was completed years ago by the PUD. Segment six, which will get the backbone to Concrete, still needs funding.

Once the backbone is complete, internet service providers can lease space on the network and use it to provide customers with high-speed internet.

Cities, towns and private internet service providers can then work with business or residential customers to build connections to the backbone, Entrikin said previously.

The port currently has interlocal agreements with the cities of Anacortes, Mount Vernon, Sedro-Woolley and Burlington to create connections from the backbone.

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