Oregon Internet Response Success Story

How a volunteer group used Preseem to help re-connect up to 3,000 residents after a devastating wildfire

When Disaster Struck, Oregon Internet Response Was There to Help

In September 2020, Oregon’s Holiday Farm Wildfire swept through the McKenzie River Valley, east of Eugene, Oregon. The blaze scorched 27 miles of fiber, impacting public services and more than 1,000 homes and businesses in the area. However, the award-winning efforts of a community group quickly restored internet connectivity to the region. The group, named Oregon Internet Response (OIR), is made up of over 30 volunteers.

One of those is Geoff Turner, a founding member of the group who’s been responsible for leading its backhaul team. Turner started his first company when he was 14 years old and is the current CEO of Elevate Technology Group, a fixed wireless hybrid service provider based in Portland.

How They Did It

By creating wireless links between towers spanning the remote Cascade Mountain Range, OIR was able to restore connectivity to the region and provide primary communications for over six months.

The first member of the community to have internet access restored was the US Forest Service, while fire stations, medical centers, schools, power generation stations, and community centers, quickly followed suit.

The network consists of both point-to-point and multi-point fixed wireless, as well as GPON (Gigabit Ethernet Passive Optical Network) and ADSL+ (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line). Some sites had reliable power while others needed power built via solar.

Oregon Internet Response volunteers working

OIR volunteers setting up an internet relay station. Photo by Matt Sayre

“This made for an interesting network management strategy and required extremely talented individuals who wanted to make a difference,” said Turner.

How Preseem Helped

Once the makeshift network was up and running, the OIR team wanted to improve the network’s Quality of Experience (QoE). Turner had already tested Preseem’s QoE Monitoring and Optimized Shaping solution in Elevate’s network, and recognized its potential to help with the OIR initiative.

The volunteer group were provided with a discounted Preseem 5000B appliance and given free access to the Preseem platform during its initial deployment.

“Preseem gave us control, where we didn’t have to log into each individual device and rate limit anymore,” said Turner. “Preseem instead provided us with a central place to see what was happening with the network and provide a better user experience.”

Keeping the Region Connected

For more than six months, the fixed wireless internet service provided by OIR was the primary source of connectivity in the region. Turner estimates that between 2,000 and 3,000 residents have benefited as a result of his actions and those of the other volunteers.

“When we installed Preseem, it dramatically changed the experience that people were having,” said Turner.

Today, as incumbent carriers have restored connectivity, there’s still a struggle to keep the networks online. A local nonprofit group called McKenzie Communications has re-deployed hotspots in the community to provide for unserved and underserved residences throughout the region.

Oregon Internet Response volunteers setting up a fixed wireless network

The OIR team setting up the fixed wireless network. Photo by Oregon Internet Response.

Turner has also partnered with various entities such as McKenzie School, Onward Eugene, US Ignite, and the National Science Foundation to deploy an education-first LTE (Long Term Evolution) network in the region and upgrade the redundant connectivity to the towns of the McKenzie Valley.

When we installed Preseem, it dramatically changed the experience that people were having.”

Geoff Turner
CEO, Elevate Technology Group

Moving Forward with Preseem

After seeing the effectiveness of Preseem as part of the OIR initiative, Turner has since implemented the service in his own Elevate Connx network. He looks forward to his network engineers using Preseem to provide proactive improvements while diagnosing tower, access point, and subscriber issues.

“Preseem has been fantastic, above and beyond our expectations!” said Turner. “There is nothing I would have asked the Preseem team to do any differently. They knew exactly what they needed to do each step of the way, and were easy to work with and friendly.”