Sherman County is turning to tiny, shiny, sun-powered trailers to fill gaps in high-speed internet coverage in Oregon’s windswept wheat country.
The coronavirus brought a new sense of urgency to the long-standing issue of bringing rural communities online.
As distance learning, remote work and telemedicine took root this spring, some Sherman County residents were still relying on satellite internet or even dial-up, seeing download speeds of 1 or 2 MB per second (Mbps). That’s far below the federal minimum standard of 25 Mbps and hardly capable of supporting a Zoom meeting.
Though Sherman County has worked for years to upgrade its internet system, the pandemic laid bare an issue plaguing rural communities everywhere.
“There’s places that just