Before 2008, CenturyLink had been the primary provider of internet to the northern region of Lake County. Cerca 2008, North Lake Health District gained a grant and brought broadband (BB) internet fiber optic cable to the North Lake Health Clinic.  Several years later, Nathan Church, a local farmer and Internet Service Providers (ISP) under InternetServices, LLC, gained access to the fiber optic and has been continuously expanding availability of BB internet via microwave to willing customers through the northern region of Lake County. Church had interest in providing internet to Summer Lake Basin via microwave relay on Forest Service-administered Dead Indian Communication Site.  Unfortunately, the Forest Service needed to complete a new management plan for the Communication Site, conduct the associated NEPA process, and renew several expired permits before allowing new uses at the Communication Site.

In the middle and southern region of the County for many years, CenturyLink has been the primary provider of Broadband internet via fiber optic from Klamath Falls to Lakeview. FireServe of Klamath Falls also provided internet service to Lakeview area via mountaintop microwave. Other internet providers mostly relied on access from CenturyLink’s cable. From Lakeview to surrounding areas (Summer Lake, Paisley, Warner Valley, New Pine Creek), CenturyLink provided internet via T-1 lines.  

Circa 2014, CenturyLink’s internet service from Lakeview to Paisley School essentially ‘tanked-out’ due to ever-increasing area demand.  TNET (local ISP) stepped-up, gained access to a tower atop Cox Peak, and delivered internet service to Paisley School and availability to residences.  Negotiation with CenturyLink’s state office wasn’t successful in getting their internet enhanced to Paisley.  However, in 2016, the talks did result in CenturyLink upgrading and enhancing their Broadband internet from Klamath to Lakeview.  This upgrade to Lakeview had significant effect in availability of Broadband internet in the general Lakeview area and availability for eventually extending Broadband internet to outlying communities.

As TNET stepped-up to cover Paisley School, discussions with representatives of Oregon Dept. of Education achieved Paisley School being added to a list of small rural schools on a Pilot Program to achieve partial financial coverage toward $-match for e-Rate grants.  Lake County Education Service District (ESD), notably Office Mgr. Sara Sarensen, was successful in gaining the e-Rate grant.  Hunter Communications was awarded the contract to extend fiber optic from Lakeview to Paisley School and Library and completed the project in June 2018, with a port in Valley Falls and hopefully in Crooked Creek Valley for a local ISP to access the fiber cable.   Hunter’s goal, and well as Ginger Casto and mine, has been to get redundancy loop (back-up loop) from Paisley to La Pine, as well as Lakeview to Alturas.  Connecting redundancy for the fiber spur to N. Lake Clinic in Christmas Valley is also part of the goal.  Paisley to La Pine is 100 miles with very low population (customers) and very expensive without a large grant and money match from someone.  Time & Money!

TNET is currently in process of assessing and designing microwave internet availability to Summer Lake Basin after gaining access to fiber terminal in Paisley.    In January 2018, the ESD was successful in gaining e-Rate grant for fiber optic from Lakeview to the two elementary schools in Warner Valley (Plush & Adel). Thereafter, an ISP can tap the fiber and microwave outwardly to businesses and residences.  A secondary objective for fiber is to eventually carry cellular phone service to the Plush area when we can get a cellular company onboard.

The Warner Valley fiber project recently had a set-back in meeting the grant deadline of June 30th.  The ESD and others are working hard to get a time extension on the grant and ensure completion of the project.  Local federal land management agencies and congressional delegates have given support for a time extension from Federal Communication Commission (FCC).  Fingers are crossed!

Broadband Internet Redundancy for Lake County:  Redundancy would provide greater Broadband internet capacity and importantly offer continuance of service when a single fiber cable is interrupted, as by a backhoe. Redundancy is very important for institutes as medical facilities and schools.  Roughly 5 years ago, USDA-RUS Field Rep. informed us of a forthcoming fiber cable north-to-south through Lake County.  This particular fiber company specializes in transporting large data volume, as from data centers, and does not provide internet service to local communities along their fiber route. Recall desire to get Lakeview-Paisley fiber connected to La Pine and Lakeview to Alturas.  Approximately a year ago, we learned that this data conveyance fiber company was approaching land management agencies, ODOT, and others for easement thru Lake County.  One roadside trench is cheaper than two. In the Spring of 2018, introduction was made between the data fiber company and a local fiber company.  Nothing in writing, yet, but discussions are in process.  Finger crossed ! Time: Couple years, and provide viable ISP option for the Summer Lake Basin, Silver Lake, and redundant back-up for Christmas Valley.

 

Ken Kestner

Former Lake County Commissioner

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