Todd County Plans for Broadband

Todd County has been investigating fiber options. Last fall they received support from the Blandin Foundation to do a broadband feasibility study. Last night there was a big meeting in Todd County to discuss findings and progress. Below are notes from that meeting.

Todd County FIBERBAND 40 people in attendance Nate Burkett, county coordinator goal of meeting –
Inform, gather information from users, find partners, not make decisions

Timeline on project:

  • April 2011 – County board approves resolution seeking broadband
  • May 2011 – Countywide meeting
  • August Blandin grant
  • January 2012 – feasibility study completed and presented to county board.
  • March 2012 – interest survey through tax statements – 400 responses.
  • April – meeting with Arvig to discuss partnership possibilities

What’s next?
Community decision making.

Mark Birkholz – ACS

No current business model works for FTTP now PP partnership might work – evaluate… Breakeven – 25, 36 to 43 years Be ready if BB stimulus funds become available.
Be positioned for USF changes – proposed changes will not help project.
Fiber is the end all – be all for broadband deployment.

John Schultz U-reka Broadband Ventures

Cites the county for moving relatively quickly. John recognizes Blandin, Toni Merdan and Alex Weego.

Starting does lead to action.. Todd County has started!
Marketing study, Build options, Capital requirements, Business modeling, possible next steps.

Residential
96 % of people still have a land line telephone.
53% Internet penetration

  • Rural customers less satisfied
  • Customers want faster speeds, more bandwidth 74% cable and satellite penetration
  • Charter in town
  • Dish in rural areas
  • Where ACS has capacity, they also offer video

65% “likely” to change providers
same percentage in rural and urban

Expected bundle pricing
39% – $85-100 per month
20% – $101 – 110
18% – more than 110 dollars

Business survey

  • 86% of businesses use a broadband connection Only 37% have a web site those not using cannot get broadband 62% would like higher speeds at work
  • 100 % want faster service at home

A few Todd County customers have FTTH through ACS or Consolidated Telephone or WCTA.

Rural outside ACS
Town/city outside ACS
ACS Service Areas

Total build cost with 100% penetration – $65 million 65% penetration used. ACS competitive pricing model – Staples and Wadena
30 year model – $42 million capital cost and operational costs based on 65% penetration. Includes electronics refresh.

Cash flow positive in year 3.

Intangible benefits

  • Savings due to competitive environment – 30%?
  • Economic development surrounding the network development
  • Significant jobs impact
  • Improved governmental and educational services

Jobs – construction and operations and permanent new business and jobs and telework.

Now

  • further discussions with ACS
  • Sales/education and marketing program to demonstrate 65% penetration Discussions with funding sources – bonding, etc.
  • Meet with RUS
  • Follow USF discussion and exploit opportunities

Questions –

Recruiting market/education team.

Issues around multiple devices and the use of bandwidth.
Cannot take online classes due to poor broadband.
K12 districts need students with broadband; new online training enabling college courses. Schools need the bandwidth too!
Bundling would be a big saver for residential and business.
Rural people may be/would be willing to pay more.
Move forward as a county .
Wireless did not work when it rains, snows, etc.
Timelines on decision-making.
County goal 20/10 Mb by 2014 in towns, in rural areas by 2016.
Hoping for federal action.
3 year build out to spend $65 million.

Wireless as the solution. Many limitations to wireless; it is significantly cheaper. Fiber is future proof. Copper is definitely limited.

Need to work to get the discussion going across the county, with lots of people participating. Make it easy for the county board to say yes.

So many people want and need broadband. We need a local partner, one with local customer service. People in rural MN understand the needs and value of both rural and city livers.

Discussion about enhanced competition. and the effect on pricing and take rates. Schultz indicated that they need 65% take rate and around $100 ARPU.

Community questions about making things happen. How do we get the word out? How does this work get done?

geography differences – what are they?

New worker in Todd County – tech consultant. Able to get high speed in town. This is critical for business and education. Colleges and high schools are becoming increasingly intertwined. Bandwidth is the link to connect students and educational institutional . Lives in Clarissa. Ready to help get things going using social media and local contacts!

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