I just got back from the Blandin Broadband Strategy Board meeting. That is a room full of smart folks. Because of the nature of the meeting, I don’t take the transcription-type notes I take for public meetings but it really colors the lens I use for looking at broadband. Hearing about what’s happening in different areas is an opportunity to recognize trends born of technology, policy and community/consumer need.
Today there was a lot of talk about wireless. From the top, the National Broadband Plan really set out to promote the US as a wireless leader and innovator and we’re seeing that pushed more directly from President Obama. On the ground, people want wireless access. They want their smart phones to work, they’re anxious for 4G. Wireless doesn’t have the speed or capacity that fiber has, but it’s got mobility.
After the discussion, I found the following press release waiting for me on a local project that is heading to a one-two punch of fiber and wireless. It’s nice to see the planner and practitioners so close on trends…
Eight Rural Communities Sign Agreement to Extend Fiber Broadband Internet Service to Wireless and Mobile Users
St. Paul MN: February 11, 2011: LocaLoop, Inc., an innovator in providing affordable wireless broadband Internet service to remote users, will implement a 4G WiMAX network along the Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services (SMBS) 125 mile fiber ring serving eight rural communities in southwestern Minnesota.
LocaLoop is creating an operating company that will share net profit before taxes with SMBS in exchange for local services, under terms of an agreement signed yesterday at the scheduled monthly meeting of the SMBS board. SMBS is a non profit corporation established last year to bring Broadband Internet service via optical fiber to the towns of Lakefield, Jackson, Round Lake, Bingham Lake, Brewster, Wilder, Heron Lake and Okabena.
“This agreement is the next logical step, after a year of planning and preparation, in bringing Broadband Internet service to our communities beyond the fiber’s economical reach,” said Keith Stubbe, SMBS Chairman. “The partnership with LocaLoop will benefit all residents wired and wireless, in the SMBS service area, as we bring this 21st century technology to rural Minnesota.”
Learn more about the project from the SMBS web site.