News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Broadband internet on tap for Camp Sherman

After more than a decade of false starts, broadband internet service is coming to Camp Sherman via Sureline Broadband in Madras.

Local realtor and Camp Sherman native Shane Lundgren has been heading up a group of Camp Sherman residents since 2009 to secure internet access for the community. According to Lundgren, the original impetus was the government’s “No Child Left Behind” program in 2009-10, to bring internet learning opportunities to students at the Black Butte School in Camp Sherman.

Through the past decade, potential connection was discussed with BendBroadband, Century Link, and then Central Electric Cooperative to possibly run cable lines on their power poles. The negotiations with BendBroadband ended when they were sold to the national TDS corporation, who had no interest in extending service to Camp Sherman.

Due to its isolated location under the shadow of Green Ridge and Black Butte in the thick Deschutes National Forest, Camp Sherman presents a number of challenges to providing internet and cell service. Lundgren said that over the years they have tried hard to solve the problem. He and Lamont Boileau, senior account executive for Sureline, credit the hard work of Caprielle Foote-Lewis, Sisters Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) manager, for helping bring Sureline to Camp Sherman by leveraging some of her contacts.

Sureline was able to secure a grant to help with the expense of equipment needed to provide fixed wireless service to Camp Sherman and they are currently testing that service at Lundgren’s House on Metolius. He reports that it is both fast and reliable.

Owners Josh and Shelly Richesin established Sureline in February 2014 in Madras and have built their customer base throughout Central Oregon. With the addition of Camp Sherman, their service is available from the border of the Warm Springs reservation to La Pine and from Prineville to Camp Sherman covering in excess of 3,664 square miles, with 37 current towers providing dedicated fixed wireless service.

Boileau and Richesin have enjoyed working with the people in Camp Sherman.

“They have been super nice and easy to work with. As we roll out our service, it will require patience and time. Not everyone will immediately have service. They are a really pleasant community to work with,” they agreed.

Both men also acknowledged they are cognizant of the fact that some people will not welcome the internet.

“We understand people’s desire to unplug and that’s one of the things they have liked about Camp Sherman — no internet or cell service,” they pointed out. Accordingly, they don’t expect to have everyone subscribe.

Richesin commented, “We are excited to be in Camp Sherman. This has been a long time coming and we are standing on the shoulders of others. Now it’s our job to get it done.”

Future plans include offering service in Sisters, first as dedicated wireless and eventually offering fiber optic. Richesin indicated the service in Sisters will be commercial-grade.


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