(Photo provided by LS Networks)
Telecommunications companies across Oregon are working to bridge the “digital divide” — the term used to describe the gap between those with access to reliable broadband internet services and those without. In Central Oregon, this digital divide affects rural communities and businesses — any town just off the beaten path or straight shot from an interstate. Even today, with all of the development we’ve seen in Central Oregon, many businesses are still without strong, reliable broadband. And without good broadband, businesses today must compete at a disadvantage.
The Pew Research Center says an estimated five million U.S. families are without internet. On a community level, this digital divide negatively affects economic development, healthcare initiatives and children’s education. How many businesses are also affected by lack of adequate broadband? We see lots of rural communities that just don’t have the resources to attract companies that are willing to build and operate broadband networks.
Bridging the Digital Divide
Across the Pacific Northwest, LS Networks is one of the companies answering the call, bridging the digital divide with a robust data and broadband IP services network. We were founded in Oregon in 2005 with the goal of bringing better data communication services to rural communities. Today, our company owns and operates more than 7,500 route-miles of purpose-built network across the state, with even more in the surrounding Northwest states.
Here’s an example of how companies like ours are helping: over the next three years, LS Networks plans to connect 25 rural Oregon communities — places like Maupin, Oregon — with the fastest broadband service available in the Pacific Northwest. This will give businesses in these communities truly affordable options for fast, reliable broadband, at either 100 Mbps or 1 Gbps speeds.
Since the beginning, LS Networks has prioritized providing service before profit, often investing resources into communities like Central Oregon without immediate financial returns. These critical broadband services help directly address that “digital divide,” by helping organizations in non-metro regions compete and grow, while spurring economic recovery and enabling technological advancements in areas like education and healthcare.
The strength of these community advancements are due in part to well designed networks and modern technology, and partly from the partnerships each telecommunications provider forms along the way. Reliable, high-quality data and voice services are needed for hospitals, clinics and surgical centers in every corner of the state. Because high-quality video conferencing is critical to these providers and we’re able to meet the need, we’re pleased to be working with a majority of the healthcare providers in Central Oregon and beyond.
One of the ways we’re connecting Central Oregon to the rest of the state and the nation is with organizations like Greater Oregon Behavioral Health, Inc., which is advancing rural telemedicine in 17 Oregon communities through high-resolution videoconferencing for mental behavioral diagnostics. The technology needed for video diagnostic sessions between providers and patients was out of reach until recently, but now it has become a reality in Oregon. And while we’re founded in Oregon, we are working to connect other rural and out-of-the way communities in the Northwest as well, from central and eastern Washington to northern California and parts of Nevada and Idaho. Ultimately, LS Networks wants to connect as many underserved Northwest communities as possible with fast, reliable broadband voice and data services.
Local Fiber Footprint
When fiber is available in the immediate vicinity, communities thrive. When dollars are invested —and spent — in the community, economies thrive. What’s unique from other telecommunications providers is that LS Networks is 100 percent owned by citizen shareholders of five Oregon electric cooperatives and the Coquille Tribe. The company’s largest shareholder, Central Electric Cooperative, Inc. has provided member-owned, electric utility services to Central Oregon since 1941.
Finally, I’m proud to be able to say that LS Networks is expanding its footing this year in Central Oregon, and deepening its commitment to serving businesses, institutions and residents east of the Cascades. We recently acquired Quantum Communications, a Redmond-based company, which now brings a dense network of fiber-optic “last-mile” connections to business and residential customers in the communities of Redmond, Bend, Madras, Prineville and Sisters.
With each connection — into Central Oregon and beyond — LS Networks is working daily to bridge the “digital divide,” helping improve not only local economies, but residents’ quality of life by connecting communities to each other and the world around them. It takes a deep local investment to ensure underserved community members have access to the technology they need to flourish.
Thanks for your interest in Central Oregon and helping make this a great place to live and work.
Bryan Adams, director of sales and marketing at LS Networks. Contact him at 503-414-0489 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LS Networks is a privately held competitive local exchange and interexchange carrier, 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. Learn more at LSNetworks.net.