New Internet service launches in Newberg
A new brand of high-speed Internet has launched in Newberg, as a California-based provider has kicked off in the area.
Althea was founded in 2017 as an organization that helps communities build and maintain their own decentralized Internet infrastructure. Althea uses technology that allows network routers to pay each other for bandwidth, which lets groups of individuals build their own network.
Althea's technology is undergoing beta testing in Oregon and Colombia.
According to a press release, Althea launched an "Altheahood" community in Newberg, which is a group or area selected by an organizer for the system to potentially deploy in. Local organizers then work with Althea to register people ahead of the system buildout. The process began in Newberg when locals struggled to find good Internet access for an 80-acre hazelnut farm, the release said. They recognized that an Althea network might be a solution.
"Through our 'Altheahood' program, all that is required is one small antenna, a router, and a connected neighborhood," said Deborah Simpier, co-founder of Althea. "We are pleased to help neighbors in Newberg work together to bring their area cheaper, but more reliable Internet service, while also generating a bit of revenue on the side."
The press release states Althea makes it easy for residents to create a community-owned Internet co-op by supplying the organizers with the marketing tools and Internet presence to get users signed up. For residents using Althea's system, the organizers will install and configure the hardware, provide continued support and help generate revenue streams with Internet equipment. An Altheahood program is meant to help communities increase their bandwidth. The technology allows for routers to pay each other for bandwidth, so neighborhoods and communities can set up their own networks rather than pay for a traditional Internet provider. The company likens it to the AirBnB motel, where users can receive the service as well as make money off it by providing bandwidth to their neighbors.
Organizers install a small antenna on the roof of a home, which connects with the other Althea antennas around to create the network. The routers installed inside select the cheapest but best high-speed Internet connection available, and then automatically pays the bill. Althea states customers won't notice any change in Internet use except during peak hours or moments of "exceptional use."
According to its website, all it takes is 100 residents to register before organizers can launch in the city. As of last week, there was just one confirmed registrant. The website states most users end up paying between $30 and $50 a month for the service with no contract required.
Some homes may also stand to earn more back by becoming a "relay node." These homes can help the neighborhood more. These homes or buildings would need to invest a few hundred more dollars in radio equipment, but would then be directly connected to the bandwidth source. The building would then have the fastest Internet connection possible and could help neighbors with better connections while earning additional profits.
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Portland General Electric has created the PGE Drive Change Fund to give local community organizations and businesses grants to bolster the transportation sector. Funded by the sale of Oregon Clean Fuels Program credits, the PGE Drive Change Fund will return the value of the credits to local communities by advancing transportation electrification projects aimed at expanding mobility options and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Grant sizes range from $5,000 to $575,000. Applications will be accepted from July 1 through Aug. 30. For more information about the fund, details on how to apply for a grant or to sign up for the upcoming informational webinar, visit www.portlandgeneral.com/drivechangefund.