Madison MN looks at fiber options – a case study of the underserved

Thanks to everyone who has shared information from the recent broadband meeting in Madison MN. Just a quick reminder – Madison is the county seat for Lac qui Parle County. LqP has FTTH through an ARRA-funded project. Madison was not included in that upgrade because their broadband access back when the grant application was written (2008) was too fast to merit the award so they were left out.

Madison has been used as an example of what can happen when funding goes to “unserved” areas only – leaving “underserved” areas in a precarious position. Their broadband access isn’t bad enough to fix today – but it’s not really good enough for the future either.

Currently there’s an effort to upgrade the Madison network to meet the same speeds as the neighbors. The Western Guard wrote about the meeting…

A group of approximately 25 people attended an informational meeting regarding fiber to the premises in the city of Madison. During the March 14 Madison City Council meeting at city hall, the Fiber to the Premises Committee, made up of Terry Ocana, John Witte, City Manager Val Halvorson, city councilmen Maynard Meyer and Adam Conroy, and Lac qui Parle County EDA Director Pam Ellison, answered questions and provided information on hopes of bringing high speed fiber optic internet to town.

The folks in Madison have kindly share the PPT with me. It is dense but good…

I have to borrow from the Western Guard what I think is a salient point…

Ocana, who is the Big Stone County technology coordinator but lives just north of Madison, gave a powerpoint presentation that laid out the need for fiber optic internet moving towards the future.

Ocana gave examples of historical technology progress in the area, such as the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, which used $750,000 (an equivalent of $12.3 million today) in federal loans to bring electricity to all properties; the Rural Telephone Administration Act of 1949, bringing phone lines to rural homes; and the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1944, constructing national highways and secondary roads. All of these projects utilized governmental funding.

Their next steps are to ask residents to fill out a survey (market research), which folks will be receiving through the mail.

I have done a lot of work in Madison in the last 8 years or so. The people there are great – and my cell phone doesn’t work – except on the hills. Tough situation for the local businesses and residents.

This entry was posted in Community Networks, FTTH, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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