Success story: a competitive local provider meets the need of an unserved rural resident in need

I have often heard providers say – if people call us with their broadband need, we will do our best to serve them. These providers are usually referring to business customers, but I had to share this story from Consolidated Telecom (CTC). They heard the need and they met it in an usual, but somewhat old-fashioned way!

Bill Coleman (Blandin consultant) was contacted by Patty Branchaud, a member of the town board in Ripley Township. She was frustrated because she was unable to get broadband from her local phone company (CenturyLink) just 4 miles outside of Fort Ripley. She had also done some work contacting other providers to see what they could provide. No immediate solution emerged. Bill helped her reconnect with CTC. Many people in her general area use CTC, both in CTC’s traditional local exchange area and in their growing competitive exchange footprint.

To reward her for her efforts (and to get a new customer), CTC is now providing service to her over a T1 line, a tried and true technology that provides a dedicated 1.5 Mbps connection at a cost of $85 per month. CTC leases the line from CenturyLink to provide the service.

Patty is finding this to be a better solution than satellite Internet with its high latency and data caps. And more good news, CTC has applied for funding from the Office of Broadband Development to expand to Patty’s township.

Through her broadband travails, Patty learned about and is considering an application to be appointed to the State Broadband Task Force. In fact, she has been encouraged by other townships to apply to represent them. “It is extremely important that the people who live in rural MN have just the same sort of access as those who live in town. It’s hard to do Township work without broadband. It is crazy that in town they pay about $20 per month and we are forced to pay $100 per month with limited data. It is important that the word gets out how much rural MN needs broadband Internet. I talk with people each day that can’t get decent Internet or can’t get any wired broadband service at all. Many refuse to or can’t afford the high price of satellite Internet or 4G services with their very limited data plans. People want to move to our area, but can’t because of the lack of Internet service. For a family of 5, capped data would never work.”

This entry was posted in MN, Vendors 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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