Update in Monticello – HBC is leaving

Here’s the latest news in Monticello from a media advisory from Hiawatha Broadband

HBC to end management of Monticello system

For Immediate Release (Wednesday, May 30, 2012)
Hiawatha Broadband Communications (HBC) has provided the City of Monticello, Minnesota, notification of its intent to end its management of the FiberNet Monticello (FNM) telecommunications system. The decision was conveyed Friday, May 25, in a letter to Mayor Clint Herbst from Gary Evans, HBC President and CEO.

Many matters regarding FNM are in flux and in the midst of those changes HBC had concerns about being able to continue to manage the project in accordance with HBC principles. According to Evans, this seemed a prudent time to end the agree¬ment with FNM and free the city to negotiate with other prospective managers.

Evans said HBC is very proud to have participated in the launch of the system and to move it to a position where its subscrib¬er number forecasts have been met. Achieving that position, Evans indicates, is a significant accomplishment, considering the number of negative factors that affected the system in its early operations. Included were a crippling law suit and subse¬quent appeals brought by telephone provider TDS, the economic downturn that struck in 2008 slowing growth in the com¬munity, accumulation of interest debt due to law suit delays, inadequate recovery of legal damages, and a series of predatory pricing practices by cable and telephone incumbents.

HBC understands discussions about refinancing the system and discussions with other potential prospective managers are underway to help assure the continued growth of the network.

All the employees of FNM are City of Monticello employees except for the General Manager, Ben Ranft, who is employed by HBC. Ranft will be re-locating to the home office in Winona, Minnesota, when the details of the transition to new manage¬ment are complete.

Evans, in leaving the door open to future cooperation, emphasized that HBC believes that the City of Monticello is dedicated to making the network a success.

(For information, contact: Gary Evans: gevans@hbci.com or 507-474-5800)

It will be interesting to see the impact of the change to the overall project, which was running into issues last week.

This entry was posted in Community Networks, MN, Rural 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.

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