Redwood County Broadband Initiative Feasibility Study

The Redwood Area Development Corporation (RADC) just posted their recent feasibility study.

There are similarities in the RADC report and others we have seen – specifically residents in town have better access to broadband than residents in small communities or living on the outskirts of communities…

While residents in Redwood Falls have access to multiple broadband providers, the residents in the smaller communities and rural areas have less access to broadband services.

The report also shows a snapshot of services available. As the MN PUC map below indicates, there are five telephone companies in the are providing services. Mediacom, MVTV Wireless, RRCNet (fixed wireless), HughesNet (satellite), Starband (satellite) and Exede Broadband (satellite) also serve portions of Redwood County. There are also a number of cellular carriers who provide data plans in the area (Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T and Straight Talk).

RADC map

Currently 65 percent of the county subscribes to broadband, which is lower than the national average of 70 percent. Most who don’t find they don’t have an interest, which is what statewide and national surveys have also found.

The report goes on to provide engineering and business plan scenarios for expanding broadband in the area. Here are their final conclusions…

Conclusion

It has been the focus of this study for Redwood County is to pursue public/private partnerships, likely with the incumbent service providers. In any scenario, it is likely that the residents of Redwood County will need to contribute, in the form of taxes, in order to make development of a county-wide broadband network attractive to potential partners. Success in grant funding would also be a factor on whether the ultimate FTTH system or an FTTN/DSL system can be built.

Next Steps

1) A first step should include contacting RUS to discuss the project and available RUS loans and grants.

2) After that, meetings should be scheduled with each potential service provider partner to share the report and discuss cooperative efforts toward entering into a long term agreement.

3) Engaging the League of Minnesota Cities or other organizations that may be useful in determining the best path to choose in organizing Redwood County legally to enter into agreements with RUS and partners.

4) Engaging, local, state, and national politicians and their staff’s may be helpful in gaining support for any non-traditional track to implementing broadband in Redwood County.

This entry was posted in MN, Research, Rural 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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