Jackson and Josephine Counties Broadband Consulting Services
- Fiber + Broadband
- Fiber + Broadband Planning
- Jackson and Josephine Counties, Oregon
Challenge: Jackson and Josephine Counties are located in the southern region of the State of Oregon. Both are rural Counties, and with the exception of Medford in Jackson County (population of 82,098 as of 2020), there are few significant population centers. Although broadband access has been an ongoing issue, the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted a serious access issue for both Counties. Recognizing that the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), Coronavirus Capital Projects Act (CCPA), & Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expand broadband throughout the region, each County independently decided to move forward with a cursory Broadband Study.
The Counties needed to definitively understand current broadband availability in the region. Beyond this baseline understanding, the Counties sought advice on current industry trends and potential forms of ownership (publicly-owned, privately-owned, public-private partnerships) that would best allow them to move forward quickly to capitalize on upcoming grant programs.
Solution: HR Green engaged both Counties in a Broadband Vision Study coupled with a Broadband Survey and Market Assessment. This process started with gathering information on the local market and the existing broadband landscape. HR Green contacted national and local internet service providers (ISPs) in the region to discuss the Counties’ desire to improve broadband and network expansion for those respective ISPs.
The HR Green team also published an online Broadband Survey posted on the respective Counties’ websites, which garnered over 3,500 responses from both Counties. With the Counties’ assistance, mailers were sent out, as well as radio advertisements about the survey, to help spread the word and encourage community participation. This approach brought about the largest response per capita HR Green has seen to date, highlighting the need for further broadband expansion.
Using the data collected from the Market Assessment, Provider Outreach, and Broadband Survey, HR Green created a Final Report for both Counties, which outlined our findings that broadband access was severely inadequate outside of the denser municipal areas. In some cases, there were significant access issues in parts of municipal areas as well.
We presented these findings and our recommendations on a path forward to both Counties’ Commissioners. HR Green recommended that the Counties partner with existing ISPs that currently have expansion plans via grant money through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Ultimately, there was desire for both Counties to continue in the direction of a public-private partnership. At the time of project completion, both Counties are currently waiting for the Oregon Broadband office to release the Rules for the State of Oregon Broadband Grant Program.