Lake County MN decides to sell broadband business

According to Lake County New Chronicle

After seven years and millions of dollars spent, Lake County looks to be getting out of the broadband internet business.

The Lake County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to declare its intent to sell Lake Connections, the county’s broadband internet company, during its meeting Tuesday in Two Harbors.

The sale process will be a highly structured, collaborative process between the county and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS), the lender that provided the majority of the funding for the network’s construction. About 95 percent of the network’s construction is complete, with just small sections in Fall Lake Township and around Ely left to be finished. The county will try to get the best bid possible to continue quality service to Lake Connections customers and those customers will not see a change in service or pricing through the process of the sale, according to a press release from the county.

Here’s a very quick reminder/history of the project…

In 2010, the board received a $56 million loan and $10 million from RUS to construct the network and over three years more than 1,200 miles of a fiber network was built throughout Lake County and parts of eastern St. Louis County. Most of the network was completed in June 2015, and the focus shifted to connecting eligible customers to the network with the county pledging $15 million of its own money to fund “drops,” or home connections, that also included a $3.5 million grant from the Federal Communications Commission. Now the county hopes to sell the network to a private company that will continue to invest in the infrastructure to complete the portions of the network in Fall Lake.

And  glimpse at why local governments get into providing broadband – it’s not to make money, it’s to provide a needed service…

“Seven years ago when we did get involved in this, it wasn’t for the goal of owning a broadband network,” Commissioner Rick Goutermont said during the meeting. “The reason we got involved was that none of the incumbents would go after these funds and none of the incumbents were looking to provide our constituents with the service that we felt they needed, that’s why we got involved.”

 

This entry was posted in Community Networks, FTTH, MN 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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