An electric cooperative in Oregon is once again answering the call, fulfilling unmet needs for those living in places considered by monopoly providers as being unreachable and unlucrative. Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative (CCEC) broke ground last month on the construction of the Beacon Broadband Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network, launching a project that will connect businesses and residents that have historically been left behind when it comes to broadband investment.
The project is estimated to cost $60 million, running more than 1,400 miles of fiber across Coos-Curry Electric’s service territory. The buildout time is anticipated to take three to four years.
Expanding the Economy Through Reinvestment
Coos County used to be one of the leading contributors to the growing timber industry in the early 1900s, and for a long time had a thriving fishing industry, both of which fueled the local economy. Today, the service sector and tourism drive the region.
“We will never be a timber economy again,” Paul Recanzone, general manager of Beacon Broadband told ILSR in an interview. “We’ve got to find a way to be a 21st century economy . . . we’re going to do tourism, we’re going to do work from home, we’re going to do artisan crafts where the artisans can demonstrate their wares on the Internet.”
CCEC was founded in 1939 with it’s first power lines going up in 1940 and spanning 84 miles. Today, 80 years later, it’s serving 13,000 members. As the economy shifted, CCEC saw the need for residents and emerging businesses to have reliable Internet access. But 20 percent of CCEC members received inadequate satellite or DSL Internet service.
In response CCEC created Beacon Broadband, a for-profit subsidiary of the cooperative, “to build a fiber network where no one else will go,” according to the Beacon Broadband website.
“One of the values of Coos-Curry electric is to improve the lifestyles of its members, and that value was driven into the creation of Beacon Broadband, “ Recanzone said. “We have a driving core value to improve our region in any way that we can create economic vitality in our region as much as possible.”
Beacon Broadband will borrow funding via the Cooperative...Read more