Blue River area residents get reliable internet
This week, residents of Blue River got free Wi-Fi hotspots as part of a project to bring reliable high-speed internet to the community. Even before the devastating Holiday Farm Fire, the community’s connectivity was spotty.
A 60-foot-tall solar-powered telecommunications tower has been constructed above Blue River. It’s a more resilient infrastructure. Matt Sayre, with the non-profit Onward Eugene, said it provides a cellular network with internet service to the community.
“Internet matters,” he said. “It matters more than it ever has before as it relates to access to health care, access to loved one, and you know, it matters a lot in terms of access to education”
Sayre says even before the Holiday Farm Fire burned through the McKenzie River Corridor in September 2020 internet coverage was not reliable. Blue River was one of seven communities across the country to get a $300-thousand grant from the National Science Foundation for the project.
The project is a collaboration of Onward Eugene, Elevate Technology Group, and the McKenzie School District. McKenzie district students and families were the first to receive nearly 100 WI-FI hotspots this week as part of the pilot phase of the project.
Sayre said this project shows that it’s possible to bring reliable broadband infrastructure to rural communities.
“The digital divide is absolutely solvable and it would be great to fix it,” he said. “And then folks like myself and others who’ve spent time solving this problem can move on to other problems.”
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