Making Broadband Access a Community Asset

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Techvision, a part of Karnopp Petersen’s Business 20/20 executive breakfast series, recently provided an opportunity for Central Oregon business leaders to discuss the region’s broadband infrastructure and its potential to create jobs.

Craig Settles, expert on broadband implementation and keynote speaker, opened the discussion.  “It’s predicted that more than 50 billion devices will be connected to one another by 2020.” 

With this reliance on telecommunications, Settles made a case for investing in broadband as an economic asset for the community. “When you make broadband more than a commodity service, it becomes an asset by which a community can create new industries and recruit new business.”

When polled, the more than 130 business professionals and leaders who attended the event said cloud computing and mobility are technologies critically impacting their business today.

“If there were a gold, silver or platinum for infrastructure, broadband is platinum,” said Jeff Anspach, CEO of Warm Springs Telco.  Anspach explained that broadband – fiber – connectivity is the only technology right now that is large enough and scalable enough to support the increasingly huge amounts of data shared now and in the future. “Average internet speeds now are about nine megabytes per second (Mbps). That is expected to quadruple within the next five years,” continued Anspach. 

Anspach was joined by Amy Tykeson, CEO of BendBroadband, Dennis Martin, technology manager for St. Charles Health System and Peter Ozolin, CEO of Manzama, on the panel of local experts who addressed questions from the audience at the Tower Theatre.  

The audience had the opportunity to engage with the panel through twitter and an interactive voting software that let attendees vote on questions posed.  More than 65 percent of the audience polled said that Central Oregon could better market its broadband assets.  

Tykeson noted that the infrastructure is readily available for businesses to take full advantage of the region’s high-speed connectivity but doing so also requires partnership among leaders and some support. “How can we help those businesses come up with more ways to use technology, to leverage it and attract and keep businesses here so they can grow and contribute to the economy?”  

If Tykeson’s points were to spark action locally, the right community leaders were in the audience, including Roger Lee, executive director of Economic Development of Central Oregon, Becky Johnson, vice president, OSU-Cascades and Bill Smith, Old Mill District creator and developer in Central Oregon.  

“That is the whole goal of this series,” said Josh Newton, a partner at Karnopp Petersen and TechVision steering committee member.  “We bring in national and regional leaders to initiate discussion about how to improve our business community.  Technology is just one piece of the overall pie that affects business in Oregon.”

Techvision was moderated by Jamie Christmen, executive producer of COTV’s Talk of the Town, and will be aired in a special edition of Talk of the Town later this month.  The next seminar is yet to be announced but will most likely be in late spring.  Photos and video footage of the October 5 event can be seen at kpbusiness2020.com.

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