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Small, rural town of Merrill has some of the fastest Internet in Oregon

Fewer than a thousand people live in Merrill in Klamath County but Governor Brown signed a bill that allowed them to have some of the fastest internet speeds on the west coast.

Posted: May 25, 2019 3:29 PM
Updated: May 25, 2019 3:32 PM

MERRILL, Ore.,--The small town of Merrill has dealt with slow and unreliable internet service for decades. Recently, Governor Brown signed a bill to change that. The bill passed last week and it allows cities to transfer property acquired from the government to private corporations if it's going to be used to provide broadband internet service.

A neglected cable plant in Merrill has been unmaintained for a decade, but it's finally being modernized. Now, Merrill has FireServe, an extremely fast and reliable internet service that even more developed communities don't have access to yet.

The owner of a local grocery store, Martin's Food Center, says his store has benefited from the high-speed gigabit fiber optic internet. Martin Hicks says that before the bill, his internet would go down and his credit card machine wouldn't work. Hicks says this caused him to lose out on sales, sometimes up to $2,000 a day.

"The credit card business now is 70-80 percent of our sales. So when we're down, it just kills us.Since FireServe has taken over we haven't had a single problem," says Hicks.

William Carlson, Mayor of Merrill says that feedback from the community has been overwhelmingly positive but the bill came with some challenges.

"Some of the challenges had to do with technically what is cable plant. It has to do with connections and understanding how that cable plant interacts with the new infrastructure coming into place. There were a lot of government hurdles as well," says Carlson.

He says this bill is just the first step into more bill that will upgrade Merrill. 

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