Cloquet Valley Update: Fixed wireless is coming to the area

I want to thank Jan Keough for an update from Cloquet Valley Internet Initiative. It’s great to hear that more options are coming their way. And perhaps inspiring to other communities to hear that they have successfully convinced a wireless provider that there is a business case for serving the area…

Thanks to support and advice from the Blandin Foundation broadband team, we have continued to communicate with a few likely broadband providers about our market.  The electric cooperative that serves our area, Cooperative Light and Power (CLP), has begun putting up towers for wireless internet that extend their existing service, LakeNet, into our townships.  Some customers in Normanna Township are already subscribing and have had marked improvement in capability.  In December 2013, CLP turned on the transmitter for a new tower, and various locations around the southern half of the CVII area are beta-testing.  Our townships have convened internet information meetings for our citizens with CLP and have developed potential subscriber lists that ultimately convinced CLP that there is a sufficient market.  CLP is partnering with an expanding cell phone company on the transmitting equipment, and the new tower is using a 700 Mhz signal that can reach a 15 mile diameter, making a wireless signal of up to 7 Mbps available quickly to a large portion of our area.  CLP manager, Kevin Olson, will be describing this partnership at the upcoming Blandin Broadband Conference.  CLP has plans for a second 700 Mhz tower in the northern portion of the CVII area that will complete coverage of our townships.

At the present time, options in our area are dial-up, very slow DSL in a few areas, mobile wireless and satellite providers; the latter are subject to data plans.  The advantage of CLP’s service is faster internet and unlimited use.  We expect that many if not most residents will subscribe and will find out what improved internet access and speed can do.  We hope and expect that expanded use of fixed wireless in our area will strengthen the market for even faster broadband and bring modern internet services to our students, seniors, small businesses, our first responders, and others.  Our goal remains to achieve the State of Minnesota broadband goal of 10Mbps or better download speeds.  We want to continue to be part of the discussion and the solution of how to realize border-to-border high speed broadband internet in Minnesota; our rural township experience is similar to many parts of the state.

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