Livestock Auctions need broadband – one more reason to get rural areas connected

Prairie Business Magazine shines on light on how livestock auctions happen today…

At the weekly Herreid Livestock Auction here, area ranchers no longer see as many cattle buyers checking out the cattle as the animals move through the ring.

“We’ve still got 12, 15, 18 buyers there, but it’s not like it used to be,” says Joe Vetter, auction co-manager.

But the buyers really are there in a virtual sense. They’ve simply arrived via the fiber telecommunications routes of America instead of the Interstates and two-lane highways.

Thanks to high-speed Internet, the buyers study video of the auction and buy cattle at every sale.

That’s great for the potential participants that are online. But that’s not everyone yet…

BroadbandNow.com, a comparison and research website, said nearly 95 percent of North Dakotans, nearly 92 percent of Minnesotans and nearly 90 percent of South Dakotans have access to wired broadband of 25 megabits per second or faster.

That isn’t as meaningful as it might appear, given that most of the population lives in urban areas. But even in South Dakota, which trails Minnesota and North Dakota in broadband rollout, the South Dakota Telecommunications Association reports that rural providers in the state are already reaching more than 65 percent of their customers’ homes or businesses with broadband.

The costs are high…

Without such assistance, those in the industry say, it would be very difficult to serve sparsely populated pockets of the Great Plains.

Here’s why the help is required. Last year, the South Dakota Telecommunications Association – which has 18 member companies – calculated that it costs an average of $16,000 per mile to install “backbone fiber” in rural South Dakota, compared to an average of $60,000 per mile in Sioux Falls, the state’s largest city.

But that’s not the bargain for rural areas that it first appears. As the SDTA report points out, the Sioux Falls metro area has 2,490 residents per square mile compared to 4.48 residents per square mile in the area served by the association’s 18 member companies.

The cost to bring fiber to rural South Dakota is an average $3,571 per resident compared to $25.54 per resident in Sioux Falls.

Bottom line? Companies will reap a much greater return on investment in urban areas. And that means government help is vital in ensuring timely upgrades in rural areas.

This entry was posted in economic development, MN, Policy 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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s