Gov. Jay Inslee and local officials gathered in Yakima yesterday to announce the completion of a 1,600-mile statewide broadband network — with construction overseen by a South Sound-based nonprofit provider.

Tacoma-based NoaNet — shorthand for Northwest Open Access Network — led the effort to expand broadband Internet access in rural Washington state, on behalf of an over 60-member consortium spanning private, governmental, tribal and nonprofit groups. The finished broadband expansion stretches over 1,600 miles, funded partly by two American Reinvestment and Recovery Act grants, totaling nearly $140 million.

“This broadband initiative created immediate jobs during construction and brings economic investment to rural areas for years to come that have been left behind by the digital revolution,” said Greg Marney, Chief Executive Officer of NoaNet. “Washington is now nationally recognized as one of the most wired states in the country and we're proud to have contributed to this accomplishment.”

A statement from NoaNet described the new network as “a broadband highway for Washington state,” bringing high capacity Internet connections to several remote or rural communities within the state that were previously underserved by high speed networks.

Among other uses, the new broadband service expands public safety access for critical emergency and healthcare technology to remote areas, as well as providing opportunities for rural small businesses to participate in e-commerce. Additionally, local Internet service providers can also connect to the network and provide service to customers in these previously underserved areas.

“This is a hidden jewel for economic development in the state of Washington. It is underground, but its results are above ground,” said Governor Inslee. “We are one of the most wired states in the nation, and that's just not because of the coffee.”