What Lake County Residents are Seeing

Yesterday I wrote about an editorial in the Lake County News-Chronicle on the reaction of Jeff Roiland, Project Manager for Lake Connections to postcards being sent to residents in Lake County.

Today I have a copy of the postcard that is being sent to folks. It helps to frame his comments so I thought I’d share with others. I’ll include the images of the postcard; but I thought I’d type out the contents too.

Text from Lake County postcard:

Why should Lake County taxpayers take a $70 million rick on fiber optics?

Several Minnesota communities have rejected risky fiber optic projects or paid for their mistake.

FiberNet Monticello is running a $250,000 monthly loss and using city funds to cover it
TonkaConnect was unanimously rejected as too risky by Lake Minnetonka Communications Commissioners
Cook County residents are up in arms over using $4 million in special sale tax for a fiber optic network
North St Paul residents overwhelmingly voted down PolarNet 2 to 1
GoMoorhead’s red ink increased electric bills and led the city to privatize the system

Side Two:

Why have Lake County officials broken their promise and committed $3.5 million of your money for this project?

Lake County Officials said the construction of a $70 million fiber optic project “WILL NOT BE SUPPORTED BY LAKE COUNTY TAXPAYERS” (Lake County News-Chronicle, June 11, 2009)

How much more will the fiber project cost you and who pays if this project fails?

Why won’t Lake County officials let taxpayers vote of the $70 million fiber optic project? State law required a referendum (vote of the people) when a local government builds a telecommunications network that includes telephone service like the proposed fiber optic project in Lake County (Minnesota Statutes 237.19)

Too many questions. Not enough answers. Visit http://www.letlakecountyvote.com to sign the petition for a public vote!

Paid for by the Minnesota Cable Communications Association.

Clearly point of view plays a large role in the message you create. Someone who was a proponent of the project might mention communities such as Windom, Lac qui Parle, Sibley County – or they may have even spoken to different people in Cook County and Monticello.

It’s a good reminder for residents in the community – there are at least two sides to every story. And a good reminder for any community looking at broadband – there will be many sides to your broadband story too.

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

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

5 thoughts on “What Lake County Residents are Seeing

  1. This is nothing more than cable companies trying to disrupt a project that will connect many rural communities. The cable companies aren’t interested in taking their old infrastructure to provide access across the county and don’t want the County to build modern networks because the cable companies would actually have to invest in modern connections in the towns they presently monopolize.

    These companies have become complacent due to lack of competition and now they fear it, even though their advantages of scale and secrecy (they don’t have to publish their budgets) still give them an advantage over the county.

    The private sector will not connect Lake County with a modern network anytime soon and won’t provide competition in the towns that have cable. If the County wants to do it, let them.

  2. As a Lake County resident and someone who absolutely relies on a high speed internet connection for my livelihood, I understand what a fundamental service this is to rural communities. Currently, for people outside of towns, their are only two viable options for internet service (Satellite & Radio antenna) and neither allows use of technologies like VOIP (Voice-over-IP). A third option (T1 lines) are cost prohibitive (think between $600-800/mo) for 1.5 to 3.0 Mb/sec as opposed to fiber technology thats 100Mb/sec for a fraction (think $20-$50/mo) of the cost. And even then they are not available in very rural areas. The reason MCCA doesn’t want fiber in lake county has NOTHING to do with taxpayers and everything to do with destroying the absolute monopoly they have on internet and cable services.

  3. Jim,

    Thanks for your comments. It’s valuable to hear from folks in the area. I can’t even imagine $600-800 per month for 1.5Mbps! (Although I certainly remember selling T1s 15 years ago!)


  4. Ann,

    In full disclosure, $800 would get you 2 T1 lines (seems like CenturyLink won’t give you just one anymore), so you’d be getting 3Mbps. *SUCH* a deal. I can totally see why the MCCA thinks its reasonable to believe that most people in Lake County can afford that. Having been a recipient of the infamous “post card”, let me tell you how offensive I found it. I would say that if MediaCom, the cable provider, wants the business they should increase their customer base by actually expanding out to it, rather than limiting it to the few communities they cover. The idea that they should be allowed to just sit ideally by in a cozy monopoly that disallows people to have a choice in who (or even, if) they can support is absurd. The idea that Lake county should somehow abandon the 65 million dollars from the government to build its infrastructure is absurd. The idea that MCCA is somehow a small Minnesota consumer rights based advocacy group, when, in fact, they were created by and for multi(MULTI)-million dollar corporations is absurd. They can afford to send out misleading and blatantly false campaign materials to try and whip up support for themselves, but, they don’t have, nor will they ever have, what Lake county has going for it, which is a lightning fast communication system known as our neighbors and friends. We, as a community, need to counter the lies and fear-mongering with actualities and truths by engaging each other in dialogue. I, sincerely believe, that if we can get the truth out there, the MCCA, MediaCom, COX, and their ilk will not have a prayer of derailing the fiber system and, more importantly, the growth and future-proofing of Lake counties economy and relevance to our state and countries economy.

  5. It must be frustrating to think that a provider is spending money on not providing the service you want rather than investing in the service you do want! And I think you’re right – that the more that folks like you talk to your neighbors about the situation and the benefits of broadband the better business case the county will have to move forward!

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