CAMP SHERMAN BROADBAND FIBER PROJECT

Bringing fast, reliable, affordable Internet to Camp Sherman

Background & History

The Challenge of Internet Connectivity in Camp Sherman

Over the last decade, securing a fast, reliable and affordable internet connection in Camp Sherman has been virtually impossible. Due to Camp Sherman’s remote location surrounded by National Forest, fiber broadband connection has yet to reach our unique town. Treasured old growth forests have likewise impeded wireless viewsheds, rendering satellite and fixed wireless systems unreliable. Various internet service providers have written off Camp Sherman as a viable business opportunity, as the cost of upgrading existing equipment to current standards exceeds the amount of income to be generated. These challenges have left local businesses, Black Butte School, residents, and potential residents behind 21st Century opportunities.

Timeline Summary of Past Efforts to Improve Connectivity

Black Butte School, along with other committed local stakeholders, have tried a number of different tactics to improve broadband connectivity over the past decade. While past initiatives have resulted in limited improvements for some stakeholders, no solution has proven successful in truly meeting the needs of our community.

2014

Black Butte School District (BBSD) partnered with Bend Broadband to apply for a USDA grant to fund a fiber connection. Unfortunately, we were not selected for funding.
2014

2017

Community petition sent to Century Link to request an upgrade in service for Camp Sherman. The petition resulted in no clear response and no proposed upgrade.

2017

2018

Direct request sent to Century Link to install a fiber connection. Century Link responded, saying they could not justify the cost.

2018

2016-2020

BBSD reached out to other local internet service providers, including Yellowknife and Sureline Broadband, to explore other types of service options, such as fixed wireless.

2016-2020

2021

In January, Sureline Broadband established fixed-wireless connectivity in Camp Sherman using COVID-19 relief funds, as a temporary relief method. The service was made available to BBSD, select community businesses, and approximately 30 Camp Sherman homes. Realizing this was not a long-term solution for the community, Sureline began looking into the feasibility of fiber.

2021

2021

Starlink began to establish satellite service to a select number of local homes and home-based businesses. Only a limited number of kits are available at this time.

2021

2021

In May, BBSD contracted with Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC) to develop a Community Broadband Needs Assessment. The Assessment was completed in September. See below for more information about this project!

2021

2022

Construction of the new AT&T 5G cell tower begins. The new tower will enable connection to the FirstNet Emergency Response Network. It will also improve cell coverage, making mobile hotspots another, more viable broadband option for Camp Sherman residents.

2022
*Additional details on past efforts and initiatives can be found on pages 22-23 of the BBSD Broadband Needs Assessment.

Black Butte School District Community Broadband Needs Assessment

During the 2020-21 school year, BBSD received funding from the Oregon Department of Education to support a Comprehensive Distance Learning program in response to COVID-19. Some of those funds were used to support a Community Broadband Needs Assessment. Black Butte School District partnered with the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC), who also provided matching funds, to conduct the research and write a report detailing the current status of broadband connectivity in the District. The report provides a picture of the current needs and gaps in broadband service for the school, local businesses, and residents, which helps make a strong case for additional investment in our community.

A primary goal going forward is to utilize the BBSD Broadband Needs Assessment to support future Camp Sherman-specific grant applications to expand access to the Camp Sherman community through the installation of fiber-optic service. To make this happen, the community must continue to build an effective and mutually beneficial partnership with a private-sector internet service provider. Sureline Broadband is prepared to make a significant investment in this potential project, and has already begun a fiber feasibility analysis. A secondary goal of the needs assessment is to serve as a supplemental report to be incorporated into a Jefferson County-wide Broadband Assessment and Feasibility Study, which is currently underway.

Welcome to Camp Sherman
About the Camp Sherman Fiber Project

Why fiber, and why now?

A fiber internet connection will meet three important criteria for Camp Sherman residents and businesses. It will be fast, reliable, and affordable. Additionally, the fiber project will not negatively impact the precious ecological resources of the basin, as it will utilize existing power pole lines to deliver service.

Recently, the State of Oregon and Federal Government have passed legislation providing significant monetary investment to connect rural communities, such as Camp Sherman, to reliable broadband systems. With a variety of grant opportunities available, our Community Needs Assessment complete, and a secure private-sector partnership, Camp Sherman is in a great position to apply for grant funding to offset the cost of a fiber installation project.

Project Rollout

Once the initial fiber connection from Sisters to Camp Sherman is established, a main fiber line will be constructed to reach the core of Camp Sherman. The main fiber line route will be determined by interest for a fiber connection expressed by homeowners and businesses during the planning phase, as well as the amount of awarded grant funding. The build-out in Camp Sherman will take place at one time and extensions to this core line may be limited or unavailable after completion. Anyone who wishes to connect to the system must pre-order services after the project receives official approval and funding.

Most properties in Camp Sherman will be able to connect to the main fiber line. There may be some options to connect to the system for remote properties in Camp Sherman that will not be able to directly connect to the main fiber line. Some may be able to connect with a wireless connection. Others may be able to pay extra to connect to the main line. Costs to connect will vary depending on the location of your property.

It is very important that property owners express interest to connect to the main fiber line during the planning phase of the project. Any property owners who are not able to connect during the project construction, will incur a non-reoccurring charge (NRC) starting at $1000 to connect. This includes properties situated close to the fiber line. Properties that are more remote could incur much larger costs to connect. For property owners that pre-order services, most likely any NRC would be covered by grant funds.

Sureline Broadband’s Role

To successfully compete for grant funding, it is important for Camp Sherman to demonstrate that we have a strong partnership with a private sector internet service provider who is able to complete the installation and maintain the resulting network. Sureline Broadband has demonstrated a commitment to bringing fiber service to Camp Sherman, even if they do not profit on this venture. They have already invested significantly in feasibility analysis, as well as applied for a conditional use permit with the USFS. It is our goal to find a mutually beneficial pathway to fiber connectivity, which results in reliable connectivity for our community and a solid business model for Sureline.

Proposed Fiber Infrastructure
The pending conditional use permit from the USFS will allow Sureline to utilize an existing power pole line, which runs from Sisters, across Green Ridge and into Camp Sherman. This line was originally built by Central Oregon Electric Cooperative, but is not currently in use. The local USFS office has expressed preliminary support for this transfer, pending approval of the new permit and transfer of ownership of the poles from CEC to Sureline Broadband.

Frequently Asked Questions

While the vast majority of Camp Sherman properties will be able to connect directly to the fiber, likely not every household in the basin will be able to connect due to the remoteness of some properties. Some properties may be able to wirelessly connect to the fiber. Others may not be able to connect at all. Please reference the maps to find whether your property is within the proposed fiber installation zone.
Unless your property is very remote, you will likely be able to connect to the fiber service. In addition, fiber connectivity is not vulnerable to winter weather events, which made Sureline’s fixed wireless service (and some satellite options) less consistently reliable for some customers.
Sureline has committed to providing better customer service during the rollout of the fiber project. However, due to the small size of their company, customers may need to be patient during the project installation and testing phase.

Get Involved!

To make this fiber project happen, we need the support of community members like you! There are currently three important ways to get involved:
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