Broadband in Oregon
 : A Report of the Oregon Broadband Advisory Council

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The Oregon Broadband Advisory Council publishes a report on the state of Broadband in Oregon every two years. This is the executive summary from the 180 page report (link at end) published at the end of 2020. 

This is the sixth report of the Oregon Broadband Advisory Council (OBAC) to the Legislative Assembly on the affordability and accessibility of broadband technology in all areas of the state, and on broadband technology use in business, healthcare, energy management, education and government. The 2020 report will also present information on the role of broadband in local, regional and state economies, economic development, public policy issues, and key broadband related challenges and opportunities facing the state. 

In its last report to the Legislative Assembly in 2018, OBAC stated that it believes that Oregon’s broadband public policy needs to be focused on the future, be more aggressive, be more financially supportive, be more specific, and have a renewed sense of urgency. The Council reaffirms these beliefs in 2020, and is submitting its report during a pandemic that has served to underscore the essential nature of broadband telecommunications infrastructure, the applications it enables, and the value of having the skills and access to use them. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a hyper-accelerator for broadband public policy, applications, adoption, utilization and infrastructure deployment. It has created a new sense of understanding, urgency and commitment to address the long-standing challenges of the Digital Divide. The stage is set, and it is time to act. 

Key Broadband Challenges and Opportunities 

OBAC has identified the following key broadband challenges and opportunities facing Oregon.

  • Digital Inclusion: Oregon needs funded state-level strategies and programs to ensure that all individuals and communities have access to affordable state of the art broadband communications services, and the skills, knowledge and technical support needed to use them.
  • Cyber Security: The security of data and communications systems continues to be a critical risk exposure for government, public organizations, private sector businesses, and for individuals that is widely unrecognized and under managed. Oregon needs to follow-through on its 2017 cyber security legislative initiatives Expanded and pro-active cyber risk management is needed.
  • Education: Oregon’s K-20 educational institutions are positioned to realize significant economic, work force and community development benefits for the state through the utilization of broadband networks and applications. State level support and technical assistance is needed.
  • Public Safety: Oregon’s first responders are at a transition point for migration to new broadband Internet Protocol (IP) technologies. Support is needed for Oregon’s three 911 centers and first responders to migrate from legacy systems to Next Generation 911 and to interoperable wireless broadband communications systems. 
  • Agriculture is emerging as an important application and may become the largest
    driver for broadband infrastructure deployment in rural areas of the state. State
    level engagement, support and technical assistance is needed.
  • Local Community Broadband Planning: Local community engagement in broadband development, adoption and utilization continues to be a low cost high-
    return “game-changing” activity that needs to be promoted and supported.
  • Federal Funding Programs: Federal broadband programs are a key source of
    available financing to be leveraged for new infrastructure. State support in the form
    of technical assistance and matching funds is needed for eligible applicants.
  • Network Interconnection: Oregon needs to develop strategies to improve the state’s  connectivity to national and global networks, improve network resilience and support the growth of network enabled data centers and e-commerce businesses.
    To address these challenges, OBAC offers the following recommendations
  • Provide and expand state funding for grant, loan and loan guarantee programs for broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved geographic areas, for technical assistance and for matching funds to leverage federal funding programs.
  • Provide support to low adopter underserved populations and community anchor institutions.
  • Promote and support scalable broadband infrastructure deployment.
  • Reduce barriers to broadband infrastructure deployment.
  • Promote and support digital inclusion and cyber security initiatives.
  • Require that broadband infrastructure components be included for all state funded infrastructure projects including roads, bridges, water, and wastewater projects.
  • Encourage public-private partnerships in broadband infrastructure that leverage
    limited state resources.
  • Remain technology and provider neutral.  Information and communications technologies have been the most disruptive and transformative technologies of the past one hundred years. Oregon’s information and communication technology infrastructure and the capacity of Oregon to utilize these technologies for economic growth, community development and public safety is an important public policy issue. It will determine the state’s future economic growth and development. The internet has become the platform on which the world works, and broadband connectivity is becoming a universal common denominator that is important and essential for all sectors of the economy.

Competitive high-speed access to the internet and telecommunications networks is essential, statewide, for Oregon’s schools, libraries, businesses, agricultural producers, governments, first responders, healthcare providers and individual residents.” 
– Oregon Broadband Office Strategic Plan, January 2020 

Oregon Broadband Advisory Council Members  – 2020 

The mission of the council is to encourage coordination and collaboration between organizations and economic sectors to leverage the development and utilization of broadband for education, workforce development, government and healthcare, and to promote broadband adoption by residents and communities. The council members represent Oregon’s cities, counties, telecommunications service providers, tribes, educators, economic development organizations, public safety agencies, healthcare providers, E-Government, the Public Utility Commission, the State House of Representatives and the State Senate. Members of the Council were appointed by the Governor, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate. 

Council Members 

Katie Latimer Cox 

Kurtis Danka
Chief Technology Officer
Office of the State Chief Information Officer 

Miles Ellenby
Associate Professor of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine
Medical Director, Telemedicine Program
Doernbecher Children’s Hospital / Oregon Health and Science University 

Joseph Franell (Council Chair)
General Manager and CEO Blue Mountain Networks 

Michael Heffner
Assistant Chief Deputy
Oregon Office of State Fire Marshall 

Wade Holmes
Vice President of Technology
TDS Telecommunications (BendBroadband) 

Lonny Macy Planner Akana 

Pam Marsh
Oregon House of Representatives 

Galen McGill
System Operations & Intelligent Transportation Systems Manager Oregon Department of Transportation 

Rick Petersen
President and Chief Executive Officer PEAK Internet 

Jeremy Pietzold (Council Vice-Chair)
City Council President
City of Sandy 

Cheri Rhinhart
Information Technology Director Intermountain Education Service District 

Dave Sabala
Economic Development 

Arnie Roblan
Oregon State Senate 

Mark Thompson
Oregon Public Utility Commissioner 

David Yamamoto
Commissioner Tillamook County 

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