Clackamas County is situated in the Portland, Oregon, metropolitan area. It’s Oregon’s third-most populous county, with a heavily timbered terrain that spans 1,879 square miles.

According to 2022 U.S. Census Bureau data, around 89% of the county’s households have a broadband internet subscription. Connectivity doesn’t equal speed, however. Many residents are in rural areas on older DSL internet, which offers speeds around 5 Mb/s and whose signals degrade the farther away subscribers are from a telephone switching office. This makes video streaming, gaming and other bandwidth-intensive activities nearly impossible. Moreover, some homes are wholly unserved. This digital divide is an issue Clackamas sought to remedy for its citizens.

And that’s where the county’s broadband infrastructure – called the Clackamas Broadband eXchange (CBX) – comes into play. Currently, the CBX provides dark fiber that local commercial service providers activate, or ‘light,’ to provide critical high-speed connectivity to schools, public agencies and businesses. Clackamas’s goal is to extend the CBX, creating an open access network that ISPs can leverage to provide fast fiber connectivity to around 2,500 homes in the county.

So, how are they doing it? Deploying fiber is expensive and complex, even for the largest network providers. A bit of resourcefulness and a good dose of innovation is what it takes.

The CBX is funding the broadband expansion with revenue generated by the network and grants from federal programs such as the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Technology plays a role, too. Like other municipalities in North America, Clackamas is turning to Passive Optical Network (PON) for its new Fiber To The Home (FTTH) buildout because of its cost-effectiveness and high capacity.

“We were seeking a ‘core to door’ solution that could address our needs for the coming decade – one that would provide a multiple 100G core optical network and PON at the edge, bringing to life our vision of an ultra-high bandwidth community. We found that with Ciena,” said Duke Dexter, CBX Program Coordinator at Clackamas County.

Ciena solutions supporting Clackamas County

Clackamas will leverage Ciena’s Residential Broadband Solution for its new open access network. “We chose Ciena’s solution because of its scalability, simplicity and cost-efficiency,” added Dexter. “The ability to transport 200G wavelengths on day one and then double the size of our core network as needs evolve is huge for us.”

The county is deploying Ciena’s 5164 Router with integrated WaveLogic 5 Nano coherent pluggables, XGS-PON uOLT pluggables3801 and 3802 ONUs, and Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) domain controller. In addition, Ciena Services is providing technical support, hardware repair and managed spares services.

When the network goes live in 2023, Clackamas County, through its collaboration with local ISPs, will be well on the way to reaching its goal of ‘broadband for all’ in the community.

For more information about Clackamas and its broadband initiative, visit