Building Bridges: Expanding the Impact with Cooperation: #MNBroadband Conference 2017

In Minnesota, Community Leadership + a Willing Provider Partner + Public Investment has been a winning formula for many rural communities seeking better broadband. Some communities have a provider partner to dance with and some… not so much. A community’s dance steps will depend on its dance card: discerning the best path forward depends on understanding the options you have given the provider environment you’ve been dealt. At this session you’ll hear three perspectives on community-provider collaboration and then have a chance to talk with others about implications for Minnesota efforts bridge the gaps and expand the impact of broadband.

Added April 2018 – Blandin has produced a video of the session:

I’m very pleased to share notes from CTEP worker Brandon Phan:

Building Bridges: Expanding the Impact with Cooperation

Kevin Edberg

Vision, Values, Cooperation, Generative Economics

  • “We find value in cooperation”
  • 7 Cooperative Principles
    • Open and voluntary membership
      • Regardless of gender, race, sex
  • Member economic participation
    • Co-invest & equity based on patronage
  • Autonomy and independence
  • Democratic member control
  • Education, training, and information
  • Cooperation among cooperatives
  • We are collectively good at extractive economics
  • Book recommendation
    • Owning our Future: The Coming Ownership Revolution
      • Generative businesses have a purpose
      • Living Purpose: Creating the conditions for life
      • Mission-controlled Governance: Humans at the Helm
      • Capital as a friend…to develop the purpose
      • Ethical Networks: Reinforcing shared values
    • “We’ll need to rediscover how to connect with our neighbors and support one another”
    • Youtubeà Northeast Investment Cooperative 2014 Update
      • $1000 Membership share
    • Fair State Brewing Cooperative (NE)
    • Aki’s Breadhaus
    • “Be the change you seek”
    • Be clear about the values you hold, vision you have for now and the future
    • Grow muscles and language to cooperate

Laura Withers, Director of Communications (NTCA- The Rural Broadband Association)


  • telecommunications heavily regulated
  • NTCA serves 850 companies
  • made up of ~900 independent telecom and broadband providers
  • #ruraliscool (buzz word in DC)
  • been part of seven congressional hearings
  • have had 60+ meetings with FCC
  • infrastructure and investment lacking in rural vs urban communities
  • Deploying broadband is: expensive, competitive, technical, all-consuming
    • Therefore, partnerships so important!
  • Regulations
    • Net neutrality
    • FCC obligations
    • Form 477 broadband reports
    • com for broadband partnerships
    • Launched in June, 2017
  • Costs still and will likely be a challenge for a while…work to be done

I’m very pleased to share notes from CTEP worker Camilla Dreasher:


Co-Ops have already done a lot of good bringing broadband to rural areas and are poised to bring a big impact to rural America

Kevin Edburg

  • Cooperation in broadband expansion
    • The roots of the cooperative movement
      • Values, help cooperatives succeed and help their communities
      • 7-principles
    • Community leaders’ place in leading the cooperative movement and working for the community
    • Cooperatives and generative economies
    • Marjorie Kelly, Owning our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolution
      • What is your “living purpose”
      • Mission controlled governance
    • Electric cooperatives brought infrastructure to rural Minnesota before

Laura Withers

  • NTCA- the Rural Broadband Association
    • 850 local/community based telecom and broadband companies
    • “Working on behalf of rural broadband companies who are working on behalf of their customers”
    • 40% of the landmass, 5% of the population
    • 95% of member companies provide service to schools and libraries
  • Rural Broadband’s place in Washington
    • Growing awareness in congress
    • Video Clip
  • Partnerships
    • Rural areas that served by larger providers are still underserved
    • Deploying broadband is hard
      • Expensive
      • Competitive
      • Technical
      • Highly regulated
    • Benefits of partnership
      • Marketing assistance
      • Finding new customers
    • Case studies
      • Ninestar merger
      • CTC & Arrowhead

Wrap up

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