Wallowa Valley Networks plans to soon bring high-speed Internet access to the Wallowa Lake area.
The year-old business already offers a wireless broadband connection in certain coverage areas of the county, providing speeds 100 times greater than a dial-up connection.
Co-owners Moses Frederic, Travis Boyd and James Bane brought years of computer engineering education and work experience back home to form Wallowa Valley Networks, offering broadband and business networking to the county.
After final negotiations with landowner RY Timber and when the weather allows, Frederic said they plan to build a concrete foundation and a 32-foot Internet tower on Mt. Howard. Because there is no power supply in the area, they will also build a shed housing a solar-energy generator to power the tower.
"It's going to provide high-speed Internet services to the lake basin and should cover the whole area. And, it'll be a lot faster than options that are available now," Frederic said in a recent interview in the office loft above the Gypsy Java coffee shop.
The beacon on Mt. Howard will send a signal available through what Frederic called a "fixed wireless solution." Once the tower is erected, wireless radio receivers will be installed on subscribers' homes and businesses to receive the high-speed signal.
"The fixed wireless solution is a dedicated connection from the Internet tower to the home wireless radio-receiver. From the radio-receiver, the signal comes into the home through a wire connected directly to their computer or home network," Frederic said. "Fixed wireless technology allows us to provide the Internet to remote locations. The coverage area is 13 miles from the tower."
The new broadband service will expand currently available lake-area Internet options beyond satellite and dial-up service.
"We'll use reliable equipment that can be managed and upgraded remotely," Frederic said.
In addition to developing high-speed Internet and computer repair services, Wallowa Valley Networks offers business networking services including network engineering, workstation and server management and multi-line phone service, support and consulting. Recent phone system installations have been completed at Wallowa Resources, Sun Storage and Northeast Oregon Economic Development District.
"Recently many people in Wallowa County have experienced the drawback of having a single telecom path into the county. Right now all services run through the same bundle of fiber. We're currently engineering a new higher capacity path into the county," according to Frederic.
"We're really excited to see how well the community is responding to the new services we're offering. We've been surprised over the last month - we thought it would slow down during the winter months," Frederic said.
"We're trying to focus on customer service. It's challenging for anyone in this market to keep customers satisfied. We'll respond quickly to solve problems," Frederic said.
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