Update on Sibley County FTTH feasibility study

Thanks to Chris Mitchell (from the Institute for Local Self Reliance) for the detailed update on Sibley County’s feasibility study. (Blandin Foundation is helping Sibley County with a grant to perform their feasibility study.)

According to Chris, there are public meetings happening throughout the area to discuss the potential project. Chris picked up on a couple of themes at the meetings. First – the conflict between serving a whole community and serving the most potentially profitable areas of a community. In rural areas that often means deciding whether or not to serve farms and homes outside city limits…

Winthrop’s City Administrator, Mark Erickson, is committed to serving the farms though. There is little doubt that the project could succeed financially by serving only the towns, which harbor some 80% of the population. But Erickson recognizes that the towns depend on the farmers and that everyone will benefit more from the network if it is universally available.

Chris also points out…

A common theme across all these networks is that the cities really do not want to get involved but are compelled to take responsibility because they have no future without broadband. Economic development and quality of life are very much linked to broadband access

It sounds as if the feasibility study should be completed in early fall.

4 thoughts on “Update on Sibley County FTTH feasibility study

  1. It is great to see this county wide approach to community broadband planning. Throughout greater MN, the countryside portion of the rural community is an integral part of the community – to live, to farm, to support tourism or for timber harvest. Incumbent providers with old, poor quality networks should see these efforts as a way to either partner up or maybe even exit these markets.

  2. I think a lot of these communities would be very happy to work with incumbent providers where the community may fund (or partially fund) the physical infrastructure and have the incumbent provider offer services on it.

    Big absentee companies have refused this at every opportunity because they want to preserve their model. For smaller independents, it seems like a bleak future _without_ a partnership with the community… they cannot compete with the massive companies and often cannot afford a FTTH upgrade themselves.

  3. We continue to see success in that space especially with cooperative telephone companies who have the same types of objectives and obligations as communities. Both have their citizens as their constituents and can take a longer-term view of the network funding. As we continue to be reduced down to only three telephone companies in the coming years I think cooperatives will be the only logical choice for public-private partnerships.

  4. Pingback: Sibley County broadband for farms: fair or foul? « Blandin on Broadband

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