Fiber Provider, Douglas Fast Net, makes impact on community and schools with reliable broadband coverage
Douglas County, Oregon: situated just two hours from the rocky coast and cold but beautiful Pacific Ocean, the community boasts all the benefits you might expect from small towns in Oregon—winding rivers, towering mountains, lush greenery, and a tight-knit community that looks out for one another.
But there’s one feature notoriously common to small Northwestern towns that this one lacks: painfully slow internet. Much of the county is connected by a cutting-edge fiber network, built and serviced by Douglas Fast Net, a local internet service provider.
Roseburg High School first received a fiber connection in 2005. Before that, education followed a fairly traditional format as students and teachers alike worked within the limitations of little to no internet access.
Asthika Welikala, Chief Information Officer of Douglas ESD, remembers those days all too well. “I started 20 years ago when all the state testing went online,” he recalls. “When it came down to testing, everyone had to stop what they were doing online so the testing could go through. We had to do one thing at a time.”
Some schools were working with as little as 1 Mbps. That’s 1/1000th of the bandwidth individual residential homes can enjoy with fiber today. “This area is very sparsely populated,” explains Welikala. “A lot of service providers didn’t expect to see a return on their investment, so they didn’t put any capacity for the people to use.”
Fortunately, Douglas Fast Net was not like those other service providers. Launched in 2001, the company provides residential internet, business internet, managed services, and voice services (both residential and hosted PBX).
It took nearly twenty years before COVID pushed the digital divide into the public consciousness and sparked a flurry of broadband funding. By that time, Douglas Fast Net had already laid 2,300 miles of fiber throughout the community, connecting many schools, hospitals, government buildings, and residences.
“Before we had the access that we have today, the teacher was the keeper of the knowledge, but now kids have immediate access to knowledge,” explains Dr. Weber. “We’re now teaching kids to think critically and deeply about things because we can get answers in a few clicks of a button, but thinking critically and applying knowledge is a shift in education. We have to help them develop the way that they think about things.”
Whatever challenges the future may hold, Douglas Fast Net will be there with cutting-edge technology to keep their community connected and equipped—and the people who call this rural county home take pride in that. “Kids are proud to say, ‘My daddy works there,’ or ‘My mommy works there,’” observes Douglas Fast Net CEO Todd Way. “You can’t go anywhere in this town without hearing, ‘Oh, you work for DFN! I love your service.’”
By Amanda Scherer, Adtran