Internet services disruptions are taking a toll on businesses in Bend

Internet services disruptions are taking a toll on businesses in Bend. One of the proposed solutions at the forefront of many conversations in town, is making the City of Bend the new Internet service provider.

“It’s not just the tech companies in our community, or the largest users such as our medical industry, it’s our small-to medium-sized businesses that count on Internet service,” said Jamie Christman, director of government affairs for the Bend Chamber. “Right now businesses are having to pay for the hiccups of their Internet service providers in loss of business, loss of potential business and out-of-pocket expenses.”

Bend can’t be a ‘tech town’ if it doesn’t address tech.  Bandwidth usage in Bend has doubled in the last year alone. Video is 70 percent of all Internet traffic and is projected to be at 90 percent within the next couple of years.

But if the City were to take over Internet service, the cost would be passed to all taxpayers.

Christman said it’s really about the value system of Bend; what the community wants to be investing in.

“Does the taxpayer pay for transit or Internet?” she said. “If taxpayers are all paying the same amount for Internet service, will they all receive the same amount of benefit and level of service by the City?”

In addition, Christman said there’s no guarantee that the service the City could provide would be any better.

Bend Business Advocate Ben Hemson, who will co-moderate the April 5 What’s Brewing event “Bend’s Bandwidth” with Christman, said when other cities have set up their own utilities, it hasn’t been very successful.

“It gets at the question of, are your putting the burden on citizens that don’t even want broadband service?” Hemson said.

The current model for Internet service is based on a user fee, Hemson said. Private providers like BendBroadband, CenturyLink, Yellowknife and Webformix charge individuals and companies based on their usage.

Hemson did add that other cities have explored public/private partnerships in order to provide more robust high-speed offerings from private providers.

“There are people who are unhappy with the service they are being provided, so they’re asking the City to do something about it,” Hemson said. “The real city staff position is, they’re waiting to get feedback from the business community about what they want from the City in order to assist the providers.”

Join the discussion and share your feedback to the Bend Chamber and City of Bend on Tuesday, April 5, at the Dechutes Brewery Tap Room during the Bend Chamber What’s Brewing? Bend’s Bandwidth event. Register now: .



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  1. Max Vaughan says:

    I have always believed, and it is shown time and time again, that government, any government is not capable of doing any better than what private enterprise can do on it’s own. One gets done via policy that is not based in reality the other gets done via what customers needs and desires dictate.
    How will it make access any better with respect to reliability, unless the city plans to implement its on backbone infrastructure. Right now they would only be buying chunks of service from one of the other providers, and then re-selling it as their own, and charging all the tax payers for it regardless of what the individual wants. The service they buy is only going to be as reliable as the company that provides it to them. The folks that are not happy with their service may think that it can be done better by government are in for a rude awakening. Folks need to understand that they are paying for the type of service they are getting. If that is not sufficient and they feel they need more service at less cost,and the city will provide it, sounds good to them. If your provider limits your bandwidth then pay for more bandwidth. It is not fair to get more bandwidth at less cost on the backs of taxpayers who don’t care about bandwidth.

  2. The question is, should government be put in a position to compete against private enterprise? I agree that my internet service by a local provider is spotty. My phones are also connected to this service and I was dumped off an important New York call just last week. It disrupted everyone’s schedules.

    However, the political implications of the question is still on the table.

    Then there is a question of City competence. Denmark, for example, and other Western Countries have put government in the seat of providing services that affect health and human services because governments can negotiate much better deals than individual businesses and households can on their own.

    We will be visiting the happiest country in the world in May – Denmark – and their structure is far left of any system we currently have in the US.

    Locally we would be agreeing with the Bernie Sander’s political platform and perhaps that is not such a bad idea. However, I don’t think the majority of Bend Citizens will be voting that way. So your question is a very curious one.

    Please flush out your question better. It needs to be more transparent. I would like to know what it would cost and how expansion would be costed out. I would like to see the full proposal including installation costs, operating costs, maintenance, staffing (with pers) and expansion.

    I think part of the solution lies in the City not collecting enough in SDCs for infrastructure — on all levels — along with existing competence-based negotiation issues with existing internet service providers.

    Then we have new college issues that will flame into reality very soon on the existing systems. What solutions is the college bringing to the table other than traffic congestion, strain on existing infrastructure, and tech problems?

    So far the City’s grade point average on this is a D- because of how special interest can work through the loop holes and gain favor on the City Council.

    As a City, our governance infrastructure is too loose and casual to stand the test of competence-based leadership on this specific issue. We can’t even get our roads cleared during snowfall or potholes filled. Those two examples are probably a pretty good indicators of potential internet service quality and consistency.

  3. Bill says:

    “But if the City were to take over Internet service, the cost would be passed to all taxpayers.”

    “Christman, said when other cities have set up their own utilities, it hasn’t been very successful.”

    What is this guy talking about? The service would be self-funded by only the users. A general taxpayer would pay nothing. There are may successful pubilic utitlies running broadband. Here are just a few examples from around the Northwest:

    Not only are we dealing with outages and high prices, only Bend Broadband’s “Gold” and “Platinum” packages meet the definition of broadband. We need more choice.

  4. Kathy Gates says:

    What a horrible idea!
    The City of Bend doesn’t have a very good track record with things they should leave to experts. Juniper Ridge, the bus scandal, cost over runs, etc. Not to mention pot holes. We’re all playing dodge the holes! If they can’t keep the pot holes from happening what is to keep the gaps in internet coverage. They need to stick to basics. Fix the streets and update the infrastructure. Manage the city.

  5. Patrick says:

    I had no idea that currently there are cities that had ownership of internet services. Would the city really want the negative consequences that come with it when they experience outages? They would have to answer to rate hikes, when there is poor or intermittent service, staff up with those with the right skills to run this venture such as leadership, techies, and customer service – not to mention facilities and infrastructure costs to run this ‘business’. The City should stick with and improve what it already has. NO THANK YOU!!! (Oh, unless the funds are coming from BP&R. Then sure, why not)

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