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 District, residents, and potential residents behind 21st Century opportunities.
Timeline Summary of Past Efforts to Improve Connectivity
Black Butte School District (BBSD), 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.
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.
Direct request sent to Century Link to install a fiber connection. Century Link responded, saying they could not justify the cost.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Construction of the new AT&T 5G cell tower completed. The new tower enables connection to the FirstNet Emergency Response Network. It also improves cell coverage, making mobile hotspots another, more viable broadband option for Camp Sherman residents.
The Jefferson County Broadband Assessment and Feasibility Study completed.
To find out more about this Study go to:
USFS approved a permit application to construct a fiber line using existing power poles across Green Ridge from Sisters to Camp Sherman.
Black Butte School District, contracted Sequioa Consulting to create a Rapid Design of potential fiber builds in Camp Sherman. The Ford Family Foundation & the Samuel S. Johnson Foundation funded the Rapid Design project.
Grant rules for grants available from the Oregon Broadband office were determined to exclude Camp Sherman census blocks from eligibility due to CenturyLink’s hold on these areas through the RDOF program (Rural Digital Opportunity Fund).
CenturyLink representatives are currently assuring the Camp Sherman Broadband Project that they will follow through with their commitment to have fiber built in Camp Sherman by 2028.
*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 conducted 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.
About the Camp Sherman Fiber Project
A fiber internet connection is fast, reliable, affordable, and able to adapt to future innovations, in other words, “future-proof.” Fiber internet does not require an unobstructed sky view, which excludes many in Camp Sherman from accessing satellite internet services.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will everyone in the Metolius Basin be able to connect to the fiber installation?
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.
I own an undeveloped lot, or I own a lot that can be subdivided, can I get a fiber connected for future construction?
Possibly. To make sure that the lot is considered in the process, you'll need to sign a letter of interest including the address for any undeveloped lot. A "splice point" will then be planned into the system at that lot, into which a fiber connection to future construction can be built (likely a Non-Reoccurring Charge will be required). If your property has not been subdivided, but you are interested in an additional splice point at your existing address, please indicate that at the bottom of the letter form.
I own a USFS summer cabin, will I be able to connect to the fiber system?
At this point in the process, the USFS has not granted special use permits to connect to any lots that they own. However, it is possible that a permit could be granted for cabins that wish to connect to the fiber.
We are aware that cabins currently are not allowed to have satellite dishes attached to them, so we hope to eventually connect cabins to the fiber build.
Will the fiber line be safe on an above ground power line through the forest?
If fiber is installed in Camp Sherman above ground, the risk to fire starting from a break in the fiber line is close to zero. One of the great benefits (there are many), of fiber is that it is passive. In other words, it doesn’t carry any voltage. So, the risk of fire is almost nil!
To make this fiber project happen, we need the support of community members like you! Here are ways to get involved: