Emerald Broadband: Connecting rural towns in Lane County with high-speed internet

Emerald Broadband

Emerald Broadband was founded in 2016 by Raymond Hardman and Scott Littlejohn, who describe themselves as “a couple of guys who had an idea in a garage about a year and a half ago and got excited about making a change in how internet is doled out”. Both founders are from rural Oregon, and grew up in small communities where traditional job sources were slowed by economic disruptions.

 

Emerald Broadband provides access to public networks and brings affordable high speed wireless internet to rural communities in Lane County. They are a public benefit corporation, meaning the organization prioritizes public benefit above profits, with the main goal being connecting rural homes to a fast and reliable broadband service. This past year, services have expanded into a small town by the name of Westfir; the town is located 44 miles southeast of Eugene, with a population of roughly 125 people. They are actively permitting and are beginning construction in Oakridge, Oregon.

 

With a technology centered economy, being disconnected with internet and digital services creates a huge setback for personal success. Emerald Broadband offers  residential and commercial internet ranging from basic packages to enterprise classes with 10 gigabytes. Emerald Broadband is perfecting the balance of wireless and fiber connectivity, all while giving more rural internet access options.

 

“You should be able to live wherever you want in this country and

still be part of the U.S. economy,” - Raymond Hardman

 

Founders Hardman and Littlejohn are in constant communication with the Lane County Community & Economic Development (CED), continuing to look for eastward expansion towards McKenzie Bridge. The populous has expressed interest in getting more personalized service, which would add onto their already existing operations in downtown and south Eugene.

 

The Emerald Broadband service operates on the regional open access fiber cable infrastructure that was rolled out in many parts of rural Oregon in the early 1990s. This allows for the expansion of internet and broadband services without the hassle of creating new infrastructure. Much of the fiber cable is underutilized and Emerald Broadband’s plan to expand into rural parts of Oregon may be a roadmap for future expansion beyond the lines of Lane County.

 

Another exciting collaboration is with Akamai Technologies, a huge name in the internet and content delivery network. Akamai Technologies has recognized the collaboration of the Eugene city government, local township, local utility company, and their work in providing services for the people. The constant communication between Lane County CED and Emerald Broadband is truly incredible and shows a high level of commitment to improving their community.

Emerald Broadband is forever changing the way the majority of Oregon receives internet services.  Both the founders understand the hardships of a poor connection and how it can slow down day-to-day business operations, which is why - with the use of fiber cables - they have committed to expanding their services all throughout Oregon.

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