The municipal owned broadband network — one of the fastest in Oregon — improves opportunities for students and entrepreneurs while assisting first responders
March 12, 2019 (Maupin, Ore.) – With the completion of a $2 million high-density fiber optic broadband network, the rural community of Maupin, Ore., is now among the state’s most competitive when it comes to internet access. The network can provide speeds of 1 gigabit per second (gbps) per customer — the fastest broadband service available in the Pacific Northwest – vastly improving the city’s economic and educational opportunities.
The project, which took more than three years and financing from seven partners — including more than $935,000 from the State of Oregon — is a boon to the Central Oregon town of 430 better known for its access to whitewater rafting and fly-fishing along the Lower Deschutes River than its access to high-speed internet.
“This is a total game-changer for Maupin,” says Maupin Mayor, Lynn Ewing. “Our new high-speed broadband network significantly improves the professional and learning opportunities for residents while luring visitors to stay longer and even consider moving here.”
Before Maupin set out to build its own fiber optic network, the town had some of the state’s slowest upload and download speeds, putting businesses, job seekers and kids at a disadvantage. The city partnered with QLife Network, an inter-governmental agency that’s helping facilitate reliable, cost-effective, open-access link to fiber optic, and Portland-based LS Networks to design and install the network. Maupin received financial assistance from the Oregon state legislature, thanks to legislation introduced by former State Representative John Huffman of The Dalles, the Oregon Regional Solutions office, and QLife Network. The network was also made possible by investment from private partners including LS Networks, Gorge.Net, Google and the Gorge Health Council.
Efforts to bring high-speed broadband access to Maupin date back to 2014, when Maupin completed a feasibility study funded by Google to determine the cost of developing a high-speed broadband network. Initial funding was secured in 2015 and design of the network began in 2016, facilitated by QLife Network. Full build-out was completed in early 2019. Local service providers, Gorge.Net and LS Networks, worked through the winter storms to complete connections to individual buildings. Today, South Wasco County School District, White River Health District, Southern Wasco County Library, City Hall, and all of the more than 300 homes and businesses have full access to the network starting at $40 for 100 Mbps speed and $70 for 1 Gbps speed.
“Maupin remained steadfast in its pursuit of attaining higher-quality internet for its residents,” says Byron Cantrall, CEO of LS Networks. “Thanks to a combination of local champions and numerous partners willing to sit at the table together, Maupin now has broadband service that rivals the speeds enjoyed by those in Oregon’s biggest cities.”
New Oregon Broadband Office
In December, Governor Kate Brown signed Executive Order 18-31 establishing the Oregon Broadband Office, citing access to high-speed internet as an economic and equity issue. With an increasing number of cities and internet providers trying to determine how to bring broadband to their residents and customers, Maupin serves as an example for what can happen when public-private partnerships go well.
“The new high-speed fiber network in Maupin is proof that no town is too small or too remote to make sure their community is connected,” says Governor Kate Brown. “It will allow businesses in Maupin to grow and add new jobs while helping the school, health care providers, and local government to provide quality services. I appreciate all of the community support, including from the state’s Regional Solutions team, that improved access to high-speed internet for more Oregonians.”
A Boost for Doing Business in Maupin
Maupin’s broadband network, more affordable housing prices and safe neighborhoods are attracting more young professionals, business owners and families to settle there. “I have a dynamic and demanding work schedule, and I absolutely rely on high-speed internet to do my job,” says Michael Jones, director of research at San Francisco-based Salesforce. “But when I’m not working, I want to spend time getting to know my neighbors and being on the river.” He and his wife are in the process of moving from Portland to Maupin, where he will work remotely most of the time. “I think the word will get out and more telecommuters and tech companies will follow.”
In addition to its new broadband network, the City is beautifying its downtown, improving pedestrian walkways, and building a new 3,000-square-foot library as part of a new 6,000-square-foot Civic Center. “We say out here, ‘Things are hoppin’ in Maupin’,” says Mayor Ewing. “With 1 gigabit per second and numerous construction projects underway, that’s definitely true!”
Maupin is a city in Wasco County, Ore., located on the stunning Lower Deschutes River. The tight-knit community with a population of 430 is well known for its access to fly-fishing and whitewater rafting as well as one of Oregon’s fastest broadband networks. Located about two hours from both Portland and Bend, Ore., Maupin is home to a variety of companies ranging from outdoor guides and outfitters to technology startups, and is becoming increasingly attractive to telecommuters and solo entrepreneurs.
QualityLife (QLife) is an intergovernmental agency based in The Dalles, Ore., helping facilitate reliable, cost-effective, open-access link to fiber optic. Founded in 2002, QLife provides competitive broadband services, primarily through private last-mile providers, to meet the needs of existing and future businesses, as well as the needs of education, training and social service providers. Its projects include a 17-mile fiber optic loop in The Dalles, Ore. and an 14.4-mile fiber optic network in Maupin, Ore. Learn more: qlife.net
About LS Networks
LS Networks is a privately held competitive local exchange and interexchange carrier, founded, based and headquartered in Portland, Ore. LS Networks is committed to serving communities and businesses throughout the rural Northwest with the high-caliber equipment and network connectivity that other carriers typically deploy only in metropolitan areas. The company’s network is designed to deliver data and broadband IP services to any size institution, organization or campus in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more at LSNetworks.net.