Fiber optic internet is coming to homes in Lebanon | Wbactive

Lebanon will be the first in the middle Willamette Valley to bring enterprise-level fiber internet to every home within city limits.

The city signed an agreement with Corvallis-based PEAK Internet on November 9, allowing the company to cover Lebanon with fiber optic lines in 2023.

PEAK has been planning to bring fiber to Lebanon for nearly a decade, installing tens of miles of fiber lines in separate projects to Lacomb and Sweet Home. Proponents say the infrastructure could attract businesses and boost economic growth.

“Lebanon is the donut hole for us,” said Rick Petersen, the company’s CEO and president.







PEAK Internet ground hand Edgar Montiel lays fiber optic lines between power poles near Lebanon in late August 2022.


Photo courtesy of Brian Fagan


Petersen uses a wireless connection from PEAK in Crawfordsville – the company offers download speeds of 3 to 30 megabits per second via radio receivers with a clear line of sight to a transmission tower.

People also read…

But in Lebanon, Petersen saw potential for something much faster.

PEAK once provided free broadband. High-speed Internet was pumped into WiFi routers across the city, to which users could connect computers and smartphones.

A 2006 study estimated that Lebanon was one of only about 60 offering city-wide internet.







Peak internet line

PEAK Internet lineman Chris Silveira is installing a line where a work team will run a fiber optic downline to a home on Middle Ridge Road near Sodaville in late August 2022.


Photo courtesy of Brian Fagan


It was “great,” said Petersen — fast enough for casual users. “But wouldn’t it be great if we had a fiber optic network across the city?” he said.

Lebanon ended free WiFi in 2013.

The company is still deciding exactly what connection speeds and at what prices PEAK will offer residents.

“I can tell you they’re going to be extremely competitive with Comcast,” said Brian Fagan, who coordinates the company’s customer experience.

PEAK offers download speeds of 100 and 250 megabits per second and 1 gigabit per second. Upload speeds are 20, 100 and 500 Mbit/s.

Gigabit Internet is typically the origin of the business-level Internet in the Mid-Willamette Valley. In Lebanon, PEAK laid fiber optic lines at the College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Western University of Health Sciences – Northwest.

City officials said fiber optic internet was one of the factors that prompted the Pamona, California-based university to build in Linn County.

Fagan described Lebanon as a city dedicated to economic expansion.

“The city government is very open to economic development,” he said.







Peak internet antenna

A work team from PEAK Internet is running a fiber optic downline to a home on Middle Ridge Road near Sodaville in late August 2022.


Photo courtesy of Brian Fagan


Gigabit fiber is increasingly being viewed as a home Internet option.

Petersen said Lebanon’s strategic plan identified fast internet as a way to future-proof the city. And the Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments recognized high-speed Internet access as vital to the rural state.

Then the global coronavirus pandemic showed internet providers, workers and employers that people could complete projects and attend meetings from home.

“The need was recognized before COVID, and COVID just put an exclamation mark on it,” Petersen said.

In addition to the CARES funding, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which paid tens of miles of fiber to Lacomb, an additional $13.2 million in loans and grants was paid by the US Department of Agriculture for expanded fiber access to 11 square miles of Linn County between Sweet Home and Lebanon.

Fagan and Petersen said fiber optic connections would make Lebanon more attractive to people working from home.

“If you’re working from home and you keep having interruptions, chances are your boss will ask you to come back to the office,” Petersen said.

The company has provided DSL through CenturyLink, but will now seek municipal bond-based funding to install its own infrastructure “instead of relying on legacy copper infrastructure,” Fagan said.

PEAK is the broadband arm of Philomath-based Consumers Power Inc. and will offer fiber in Lebanon as Santiam Fiber.

The company signed a contractor to take on a $40 million project to connect about 8,000 buildings to fiber by 2025, Petersen said.

PEAK’s agreement is not exclusive – it will be an in-city broadband provider where customers can also get Xfinity, Comcast Corp.’s broadband service; and Internet by Lumen Technologies, formerly known as CenturyLink.

The city’s director of information technology said it was important that existing providers in Lebanon were not “overwhelmed” by incoming fiber.

“It’s frustrating when you only have one option,” Hurst said.

Alex Powers (him/her) covers business, environment and healthcare for Mid-Valley Media. Call 541-812-6116 or email Alex.Powers@lee.net.

.

Leave a Comment