Marion County Economic Broadband Initiative
Goal: To improve broadband in the county to enhance economic development, access to education, public safety, access to healthcare, and overall quality of life through improved livability.
The county does not intend to be a broadband provider but rather to help identify barriers to accessible, reliable, and affordable broadband, and to help convene broadband providers to enhance broadband services to underserved areas.
On February 28, 2022, Marion County completed its work on a new broadband map. The broadband map, using FCC data and responses from Marion County's Rural Broadband Survey (see below), is designed to help local policymakers plan for future broadband projects and identify areas in need of better internet service within their communities. This map has been made publicly available and can be viewed by clicking the link above.
Marion County Broadband Map Explained
Rural Broadband Survey
Between September 28, 2021 and February 1, 2022, Marion County conducted a broadband survey targeting rural businesses and homeowners. 53 rural businesses and homeowners responded from 22 different zip codes in Marion County. Thanks to their help, Marion County can now better identify areas in need of future broadband deployments. The survey's results were also incorporated into the County's Broadband Map.
To view the Rural Broadband Survey's results, click the following link Broadband Survey Results
Broadband is Essential
Broadband internet is essential infrastructure for everything from education, healthcare, to the economy. While the recent pandemic highlighted internet access problems across the U.S., our economic development team has been working diligently to expand broadband internet access throughout the county since 2016, when we received a grant from USDA Rural Develpment to complete a broadband market analysis.
In 2019, Marion County finalized its first strategic broadband plan with the help of broadband consultants. That plan and the previous North Santiam Broadband Business Analysis resulted in four specific goals for the County to target:
- Small City Policy Development for 5G Readiness
- Shared Infrastructure Trenching Policy Development in County Public Rights of Way
- Broadband Build-out in the North Santiam Canyon
- Connecting Agriculture Communities and businesses to Broadband Fiber
Making it Happen
Since 2019, Marion County has been working to address these goals by participating in public-private partnerships and supporting both local communities and internet service providers seeking to expand broadband access. We've worked with Jefferson and Silverton to develop local policies that support broadband deployments and 5G technology. The County partnered with DataVision Co-Op in a cost sharing agreement to lay broadband fiber along Wheatland Road and Methany Road to the Wheatland Ferry. With the help of Ziply Fiber, broadband fiber was built out to Detroit and Idanha in the North Santiam Canyon after the wildfires.
In each of these cases, Marion County has worked to create real economic value and benefit to its residents and businesses. The County intends to keep working towards achieving the goals it set in 2019.
For more information regarding the outcomes of our broadband work, please click HERE.
Why Broadband Fiber?
The deployment of fiber broadband infrastructure is the best way to ensure high quality, future ready internet access throughout Marion County. Compared to other technology such as cable, DSL, line of sight microwave or satellite, fiber optic broadband is capable of much higher speeds and evolving with advancements in digital technology. Accordingly, Marion County has made expanding fiber-based broadband access to its residents and businesses a priority.
Future Fiber Deployments
While Marion County will not provide direct internet service to customers, we will continue to work with communities and existing internet service providers to expand fiber-based broadband access throughout the county. In 2022, we have continued to work with internet service providers to build out broadband fiber in agricultural communities and other fire-impacted communities in the North Santiam Canyon. Marion County’s goal is to ensure that all its residents have access to reliable internet that is easily accessible and competitively priced.
As we progress towards that goal, follow this page for updates. For more information, please contact Eli Heindricks at 971-209-9606 or by email at