Alyrica Networks, a provider of broadband services over fiber and fixed wireless in Oregon, has announced with Tarana its winning bid to dramatically improve broadband service speeds and availability in Polk County, Oregon.
The county awarded Alyrica $795,000 in local grant and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to deploy Tarana’s G1 platform, its groundbreaking next-generation fixed wireless solution. Alyrica’s 5 G1 towers will cover 33 square miles of hilly, remote, and well-forested rural terrain near Dallas, Oregon, that Alyrica knew would have been prohibitively costly to reach with fiber.
Polk County officials have been working with local internet service providers (ISPs) to improve their broadband offerings and coverage throughout the county since 2018. County officials had begun to notice discrepancies between the FCC’s broadband coverage reports and the reality of service in Oregon’s rural areas.
In a mail survey completed in September 2021, the Polk County team discovered that almost 70% of their respondents have service that is well below the federal definition of broadband, if any at all, and concluded that speeds and service availability remain far below national standards and state averages, in disagreement with state and national service provider maps.
In their Rural Broadband 2021 Update reporting on these findings, Polk County explains that census blocks in the area often include parts of cities where fast internet service is abundant, which given the FCC’s block-level mapping leads to incorrect depiction of adequate service in the rural parts of those blocks. Alyrica, however, is a local ISP and understands first-hand the reality of internet access for people outside of Dallas city limits.
Determined to provide quality service to more remote customers across the Willamette Valley, Alyrica began to explore the Tarana G1 platform to extend coverage beyond the reach of its fiber offering. “G1 opened our eyes to what’s possible in both urban and rural areas, allowing us to get much greater density on each tower and serve more customers in each area before we have to go back and rebuild the tower or upgrade,” shared Josh Kvidt, Director of Growth at Alyrica.
Alyrica’s G1 testing yielded download/upload speeds of 570/124 Mbps at 2.5 miles in non-line-of-sight (NLoS) conditions and 462/114 Mbps at a distance of 9 miles in near line of sight. After logging those unprecedented speeds over previously challenging radio links, they submitted a grant proposal to use the G1 platform on the Polk County Broadband Project. “We were thrilled with G1’s performance. It’s the perfect solution to serve tricky parts of Polk County,” said Sam Dotson, Alyrica CEO.
While the full scope of the Polk County Broadband Project encompasses multiple technologies and service providers, Dean Anderson, Project Manager at Polk County, highlighted the value of Alyrica’s fixed wireless offering in the hills around Dallas. “Reaching citizens and providing service is critical in those areas. We were not sure fiber was going to reach everywhere or be cost effective, so this was a great alternative,” said Anderson. “Bottom line, we wanted to bring service to the most customers in these hard-to-reach areas as cost effectively as possible at that 100 Mbps mark, and with Tarana technology Alyrica will be able to do that for us and more.”
The project also required any proposing ISPs to support pricing for high-speed services that remains affordable for low- and fixed-income residents. Before Tarana, Alyrica’s service plans maxed out at a download speed around 100mbps. With the help of G1 they plan to offer up to 400mbps while still maintaining a price point below $100 per month across all packages. Alyrica’s grant proposal summarized their main goal in deploying G1: “Bridging the digital divide is at the forefront of the partnership between Alyrica and Tarana. Together we are determined to make broadband services accessible and affordable to families in the Willamette Valley’s most rural areas.” Alyrica expects to add first subscribers on its G1 network by mid-summer, and is gearing up to connect all 616 underserved homes in the coverage area by early 2023.