Want Broadband? Form a Co-Op.

Stop the Cap is reporting that co-ops are the way to go if you want to get broadband and that the case is being made in Minnesota…

Parts of rural Minnesota are teaching the nation a lesson or two about how to deliver rural broadband — form a community co-op and provide it yourself, or wait forever for a commercial provider to deem it sufficiently profitable to deliver a reasonable level of service.

Minnesota’s Broadband Task Force indirectly proved the case for community Internet access with their first official report on the state of broadband in the North Star State.

Farmers Mutual in Madison, Federated Telephone in Morris, and Paul Bunyan Communications in Bemidji have been running fiber optic cables up and down area streets and delivering next generation broadband to some very happy customers. All are cooperatives — community-owned providers that put their customers (who also happen to be the owners) ahead of Wall Street shareholder profits. The result: modern and reliable service, instead of “good enough for you” Internet access at sky-high prices from for-profit phone companies.

I might add locally-owned independent telephone companies and maybe municipalities into that mix. I’ve talked with folks and heard many conversations on the topic – it often comes up that one key difference between the co-ops, independents and municipalities is that they are invested in the community as much as in the business of selling broadband. It gives them a longer view on ROI and it allows them to measure more than the bottom-line when making decisions.

This entry was posted in MN, Policy, Rural, Vendors by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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