West Central Tribune reports…
A $10 million project to bring broadband to rural northern Kandiyohi County is officially dead.
In a news release issued Tuesday afternoon, Consolidated Telecommunications Co. said it was pulling out of the project, citing financial considerations.
I’ve been following the story, so that isn’t news. The lessons learned (as reported by West Central Tribune) are interesting…
Kleindl and the County Commissioners think there were probably multiple factors that made the project an uphill battle.
The company’s rollout of the sign-up campaign was confusing, they said. Roger Imdieke, chairman of the County Board, called it “poorly designed and poorly executed.”
The slow pace of sign-ups and payments became especially frustrating, Kleindl said. “As gut-wrenching as this has been, the reality is this: We needed people to sign up and they did not sign up.”
CTC was so cautious in moving forward that it cost them time, which in turn led to higher interest rates, he said.
The County Commissioners also believe the project was seriously hampered by a new grant requirement that gave existing internet providers the right of first refusal. This was the first time that applicants to the state’s border-to-border program dealt with this provision, and it left Consolidated Telecommunications Co. with limited options for choosing a project area that would be both cost-effective and contain an adequate customer base. The majority of other grant-funded projects either were not in areas with an incumbent provider or consisted of upgrading an already existing service.
It’s an issue the county wants to share with the Minnesota Office of Broadband Technology during future discussions about lessons learned from the failure of the project.
The state also needs to take a look at budget expectations that can leave grant recipients vulnerable to changing conditions, Kleindl said.
“They can’t have their margins so thin that they can’t adjust,” he said.
They recognize that the need remains.