Broadband and Cooperatives: A Winning Strategy for Minnesota

Last week a group met to talk about the potential role of cooperatives in bringing broadband to unserved rural areas. Minnesota has always done well with public private partnerships as a tool to expand broadband. There were several cooperative providers in the room, cooperatives who wanted to learn more and potential partners.

We started with a conversation on why Cooperatives and Broadband make sense

  • Members trust their cooperatives
  • Staff member have relationships with members
  • Customer/billing system in place
  • Fleet in place
  • Aerial infrastructure
  • Managed conservatively (cash available)
  • Allowance for longer payback periods
  • Relationship with financial institutions
  • Smart Grid and other internal communications
  • Cooperatives used to work toward reliability and growth. Growth has slowed, which may be an issue in being sustainable so maybe it’s a god time for electric to look at broadband especially if there are partnerships.

Then attendees heard from a number of people – here are the presentations below.

MN Office of Broadband Development Update Q1 2018

SmartGrid Broadband from Barry Electric

CAF II Case Study from Bill Coleman

Broadband Via Cooperatives – Electric and Telecom Partnerships from CNS

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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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