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BEND, OR -- For many Central Oregonians Internet service is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity for students, small businesses, corporations and those just trying to stream their favorite show on Netflix. But, several recent widespread outages highlight the region’s bandwidth vulnerability.


The city of Bend’s Business Advocate, Ben Hemson, says the City Council has heard from many who are concerned about Internet reliability. "We know Bend, anecdotally, has this growing population of telecommuters from the Bay Area, from Portland, from Seattle and they’re moving up here and working from their homes but when an expectation of being able to use the same sort of bandwidth with the same sort of reliability that they expect back in their former workplace." He says some have suggested the city should consider a municipal Internet Service Provider. "Council has certainly heard from folks in the community saying, ‘we’re not happy with our internet speeds, our internet reliability.’ That’s a big leap to any sort of municipal broadband from there. Council has not discussed that at any large level. But, we want to talk more about what the city can do to help the private utility providers."
Hemson and Jamie Christman, with the Bend Chamber of Commerce, will co-moderate an event next week, featuring representatives from two of the region's biggest Internet service providers: Bend Broadband and BendTel. Christman tells KBND News, "It’s not pointing any fingers; this isn’t even to necessarily go to Council who needs to do a municipal utility. We just need to get this on deck because it’s affecting businesses." She says if Central Oregon wants to attract more tech industry, the region needs to protect and expand its bandwidth. Two representatives from the business community will round out Tuesday's panel. 
For our complete conversation with Hemson and Christman, visit our Podcast page or click HERE. The Bend Chamber’s “What’s Brewing” event begins at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, at Deschutes Brewery. Click HERE for event details.

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