Paul Fleming, CEO of Wecom, presents his company’s plan for bringing broadband service to La Paz County at the May 1 meeting of the County Board of Supervisors. He said their goal is to come as close as they can to providing access to broadband to 100 percent of the homes in the county.
Bringing broadband Internet service to La Paz County will be a challenge, but Kingman-based telecommunications company Wecom is up to the challenge. That’s what Wecom’s CEO, Paul Fleming, told the La Paz County Board of Supervisors on May 1.
Fleming told the Supervisors he was not asking for money as they are already funded. He said they will be working through partnerships with public and private entities. They were awarded a $10 million grant Arizona Broadband Development Grant in 2022 to develop Internet service in La Paz and Mohave Counties. Fleming said some $40 million of public and private money is involved, and they already have made investments in the area.
“We have some real skin in this game,” he said.
Among their private-entity partners is Arizona Public Service.
Fleming cited figures from the Federal Communications Commission that showed 8,400 of 9,500 homes in La Paz County do not have access to adequate broadband services. Of the communities in the county, the FCC said Ehrenberg is the only one with access to adequate broadband services.
La Paz County is hardly alone, Fleming said. The FCC estimated that 85 percent of rural locations in the nation have inadequate Internet service.
Wecom’s plan will be carried out in two phases. The first, which Fleming said should get underway in three months, is intended to reach 6,000 homes. Some 1.8 million feet or fiber optics will be laid to reach homes in the county.
The second phase will reach an additional 1,000 to 2,000 homes.
“We are striving to get as close as possible to 100 percent coverage in La Paz,” Fleming said.
Fleming provided a map showing where Wecom plans to lay their lines. The mainline would start near the line with Mohave County and head down the river to Parker. From there, it would follow State Routes 95 and 72 through Bouse to Hope. The mainline would split into two lines at Hope. One would head east to Salome and Wenden, while the other would follow U.S. Route 60 to Quartzsite. From there, it would follow U.S. Route 95 to the Border Patrol Station. There would be a branchline to Ehrenberg and another to Vicksburg Junction. There would also be branch and spur lines into the populated areas along the mainline.
While building this system, Fleming said they wanted to make it as affordable as possible. He noted the Affordable Connectivity Program offers discounts to qualified residents for Internet Service. He also noted the FCC’s Rural Health Care E-Rate program. This allows for schools, libraries and hospitals to have subsidies for their telecommunications needs. He said Wecom has been participating in this program for 13 years.
District 2 Supervisor Duce Minor said he looked forward to Wecom providing good service for the county.
Wecom was found in 1956 and is based in Kingman, Ariz. They have been involved in telecommunications in the region for 66 years.
Y'all be just a little late to the game, most folks I know went with STARLINK. Guess what it WORKS even during the summer monsoon season.
Elon Musk bypassed you… just saying
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.