How Fiber Brought an Oregon County Into the 21st Century

FBA Douglas County Website Graphic

By: Mary Jander

Recent passage of the U.S. Broadband Bill reminds us that vast regions of the country remain without adequate Internet bandwidth. According to U.S. Census data, at least 17% of the U.S. has been bypassed by incumbent ISPs or telcos unable or unwilling to extend service to remote areas. And without that service, these populations can't fully participate in twenty-first-century work, education, healthcare, business opportunities, and entertainment.

A key feature of the Broadband Bill is its insistence that fiber optic network projects will be given priority in funding awards. This is a breakthrough for municipalities looking for a permanent, future-proof solution to their broadband needs.

Fiber has already proved to be the path forward for municipalities that took the initiative to create their own fiber optic networks when they were left behind.

One of these networks is described in detail by Futuriom and the Fiber Broadband Association in a recent profile, “Douglas County, Oregon: Building a Fiber Pathway Forward.”

Twenty years ago in Douglas County, Oregon, a group of citizens enlisted the local electric cooperative to start a fiber optic network delivering 1-Gb/s services to the local hospitals. Today, Douglas Fast Net, the fiber subsidiary of the electric cooperative, has installed 2,799 miles of fiber that serves over 13,000 installed homes and businesses with over 20,000 voice and data circuits in the Douglas County region. Having spent $25 million to establish the infrastructure, Douglas County realizes over $28 million annually in benefits directly attributable to its fiber network.

Highlights of the Profile

  • Douglas County was among the first municipalities in the state of Oregon to get symmetrical 1-Gb/s Internet service and is one of the first to embrace 10-Gb/s backbone services, which will soon be offered as part of commercial and residential packages.
  • Douglas Fast Net (DFN), based in Roseburg, Oregon, was established as a subsidiary of Douglas Electric Cooperative (DEC) in 2000. Since then, DEC and DFN have followed an unorthodox but mutually beneficial route to adding value to Douglas County and surrounding areas.
  • Despite economic setbacks in Douglas County, fiber optic facilities have been key to preserving business in the region and have contributed significantly to business, healthcare, education, and government.
  • Fiber brought many intangible benefits to Douglas County, including support for fighting notorious wildfires that savaged the region’s forests in 2020.
  • DFN’s fiber infrastructure has become a source of revenue, as DFN is able to lease fiber to other carriers, even competitors.

Download the report here now!

(Publisher's Note: The FBA contracted with Futuriom to create and provide this custom research.)