The project fulfills infrastructure needs for health, educational, public safety, and business entities, enabling higher Internet connectivity speeds. Also a benefit to the overall Central Oregon economy, it will create approximately 75 jobs during construction and an estimated 115 permanent jobs as a result of the improved regional connectivity. The goal of this project is to bridge the gap that has existed between rural and urban areas of Central Oregon.
"The Madras City Council supported BendBroadband's grant application and is pleased and excited that the grant was awarded and that this broadband service will soon be available in Madras, " noted Mike Morgan, City Administrator, Madras. "The City has historically supported those private sector efforts that bring choice and quality services to the residents of Madras."
BendBroadband expects to start construction in mid-September 2011 and estimates completion by September 2012 (ahead of the July 2013 grant deadline). Specifically to these communities, the project will begin with fiber infrastructure being provided at COCC in Madras and Bend-La-Pine Schools.
BendBroadband was awarded the initial grant in July 2010 in the amount of $6.3 million through the federally funded Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). BendBroadband will be providing $1.9 million of those funds to complete the project.
From BTOP, the Central Oregon Fiber Alliance (COFA) was created, forming a partnership with the local communities of Madras, Prineville, Sunriver, and La Pine as well as key health, educational, public safety, and business entities. COFA aims to create a comprehensive, regional 40 Gbps fiber ring and bring broadband connectivity to more regions of Central Oregon, helping local businesses and providing a boost to the economy. The goal is to provide high-speed connections from 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps to 25 community anchor institutions and to build direct fiber connections to area business parks and districts.
"The City of La Pine is pleased to have a franchise agreement in place that will allow additional broadband services into the community which is vital to our economic expansion. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) made this possible by working with BendBroadband to expand its services into the La Pine area," said Rick Allen, City Manager, La Pine.