RS Fiber Cooperative Recognized with Broadcast Communities “Cornerstone Award”

Fun news from RS Fiber

Winthrop, MN – RS Fiber Cooperative (RS Fiber) was awarded the Cornerstone Award by the industry publication Broadcast Communities last week “for dedication, persistence, and vision in securing the benefits of broadband for their communities.”

The award was accepted on behalf of RS Fiber at the publication’s annual industry Summit held May 1-4 in Dallas, TX, by City of Winthrop Economic Development Director, Mark Erickson. The Cornerstone Award is presented each year to businesses and organizations with “outstanding accomplishments in the area of delivering telecommunications for the benefit of the end user.”

A committee of broadband industry leaders, analysts, and writers help select winners of the award. In selecting RS Fiber, the committee stated, “RS Fiber overcame more obstacles than anyone should have to overcome to get broadband for the residents of Renville and Sibley Counties. And their efforts are paying off.”

Cornerstone Awards were also presented to the City of Wilson, NC/Greenlight Community Broadband and Valley Electric Association, Pahrump, NV.

RS Fiber currently serves customers in the communities of Gaylord, Gibbon, Green Isle, Lafayette, New Auburn and Winthrop with Internet, Video, and Phone service, including Internet speeds of up to 1 Gbps over a state-of-the-art fiber-optic network. RS Air serves rural residents of Renville and Sibley counties by providing symmetrical broadband speeds up to 25 Mbps.

Phase One construction of the project is expected to be completed this fall with services being extended to the towns of Brownton, Buffalo Lake, Fairfax and Stewart.

RS Fiber starts broadband construction on final four cities Brownton, Buffalo Lake, Fairfax, and Stewart

According to the RS Fiber website

RS Fiber Cooperative (RS Fiber) begin the final stage of its state-of-the-art fiber-optic network next month.

Plans to begin construction to link the cities of Brownton, Buffalo Lake, Fairfax, and Stewart to the RS Fiber network is scheduled to start by the end of June. Those cities will join six others (Gaylord, Gibbon, Green Isle, Lafayette, New Auburn, and Winthrop) who have been connected to the network since the project began in June 2015.

To date, RS Fiber is serving more than 1,100 customers. Customers connected directly to the fiber network are receiving TV, telephone, and Internet services with speeds up to 1 Gbps. Some customers receive services through RS Air which delivers wireless broadband Internet to homes and farms in more than 17 townships over a network of 13 towers. RS Fiber general manager Toby Brummer is expecting to have over 2,000 customers connected to the network and enjoying super-fast gigabit speeds by the end of the year.

Mediacom upgrades to a Gig Northern Minnesota

The Hibbing Daily Tribune reports

The company [Mediacom] rolled-out its new technology of 1 Gig internet speeds in conjunction with a tour of its master headend facility in Hibbing Tuesday.

They describe the upgrade…

The company rolled-out its new technology of 1 Gig internet speeds in conjunction with a tour of its master headend facility in Hibbing Tuesday.

And a little bit about the technology…

Mediacom has offered the 1 Gig speed to business customers in recent years by extending fiber optic through an optical connection, but Tuesday’s launch now allows all customers — including residential — to receive the speed without fiber.
“It’s available over a regular cable television modem,” explained Jensen. “This will get them 1 gigabit per second download speeds and 50 megabit per second upload speeds.”
In other words, one could download an entire 2-hour HD movie in under a minute.

Mediacom also has a headend in Cloquet.
“But this Hibbing master headend is our largest facility on the Iron Range,” said Jensen, while explaining how the racks of digital network equipment provides the company’s video, internet and telephone service technologies.
He equated the facility to a wagon wheel.
“In the middle of the wheel is the hub, and that’s master headend. The spokes are the fiber optic lines and eventually the coaxial cable lines that to our customers,” he continued. “In this facility today we have high-tech fiber optic transmitters, receivers and lasers, which is probably a little more than $1.5 million in equipment here.”

SW Minnesota using fiber to attract people

KEYC Mankato reports on the SMBS upgrades in southwest Minnesota…

When you see communities like Jackson or Lakefield, it’s hard to believe that they have some of the fastest Internet available. It’s a recent system upgrade that has allowed the multiple municipalities owned South Minnesota Broadband Services to offer One gigabyte per second Internet.

That’s about 20 times faster than the fastest cable Internet connections.

“Jackson is very fortunate. This is something that a lot of people probably take for granted And don’t realize how lucky we are in greater Minnesota to have high capacity access,” said Jackson City Administrator Jennifer Bromeland.

“It’s just been so vitally important, and to be able to offer that in the communities of our size is just something else. It’s absolutely fabulous,” SMBS General Manager Travis Thies said.

Here’s why they do it…

“We have the fiber set up to many of our businesses and residents right now, so we have had this for a while and it’s helping or businesses to meet their goals I’m just helping us to keep people in Jackson and attract people to want to move to Jackson, ” said Bromeland.

Think of it as laying the groundwork. As time goes on, Internet demands will only increase. By offering high-speed Internet now it’s hoped that the businesses in these Minnesota communities will continue to grow and thrive as well as attract new business.

MN Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Omnibus reading

Today the Conference Committee on SF1937, Jobs and Energy Omnibus Bill met to compare the House and Senate version of the bill. Unfortunately the meeting wasn’t streamed but I tried to get as much as I could on video:

First – the discussion on budget. (I couldn’t upload the first video but you can get it here.)

On a very high level here are the differences:

Broadband grants

  • The Governor recommends $60 million for broadband grants (over 2 years)
  • The House recommends $7 million for broadband grants (over 1 year)
  • The Senate recommends $20 million for broadband grants (over 2 years)

Office of Broadband

  • The House recommends a reduction in operating budget through a  reduction in the Commerce Adminsitrative Services budget.

Telecom Revenue Changes

  • The House budget forecasts a reduction in revenues in Department of Commerce and the PUC due to “VoIP Regulation Modification”
  • The Senate doesn’t see a reduction because they will allow for assessments to make up the loss.

There was some discussion about the proposed grants – suggesting a 50% match for unserved areas; 35% match for underserved areas and cap on grant amounts of $3 million.

There was some discussion about removing the idea of underserved areas since satellite reaches the whole state at speeds of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up, which was the speed definition for “underserved”.

Internet Privacy – House version is more fleshed out – includes providers, search engines and social media companies.

Agencies plead their cases to the legislators – including a few words for broadband.

I am scanning the documents I can. Also I’m going to admit to being pretty sick so I’ve done what I can. Please feel free to send me any corrections. I’m afraid if I wait until I’m healthy enough to get all of the details, the next meeting may be upon us!

CTC has half the desired take rate and plenty of time for new Kandiyohi County network

According to the West Central Tribune

With sign-ups at 46 percent of the goal, the push is continuing to enlist customers for a broadband project coming to north central Kandiyohi County.

Consolidated Telecommunications Co. hopes to start construction of a fiber line this summer that would bring high-speed internet to 1,600 rural homes and businesses.

It’s important for customers to sign up soon so the company can reach the goal it needs to make the project cost-effective, said Connie Schmoll, business development specialist with the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission.

They are about halfway to where they want to be…

CTC has said it wants to reach its goal of 800 initial sign-ups by the end of April. As of Friday afternoon, it was almost halfway to that goal.

Progress has been slower than supporters would like, however, prompting Kandiyohi County this week to postpone the sale of $5 million in tax abatement bonds to finance the local share of the project. County officials hope to go ahead with the sale soon but they said this week that the customer target must be met first.

“We won’t go forward, CTC won’t go forward, until we get (800 sign-ups),” said Larry Kleindl, county administrator.

They are having meetings to get folks signed up…

CTC will host four meetings this coming week to give prospective customers a chance to meet company representatives, hear about the project and sign up.

The meetings are at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Monday and 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Lake Andrew Town Hall.

Southwest Minnesota building “Gigabit Communities”

The Worthington Daily Globe reports on great broadband in some communities in Southwest Minnesota…

As a general rule, internet bandwidth usage increases by about 50 percent every year. This isn’t any different in southwest Minnesota, where DSL has struggled to provide speeds that can keep up with the ever-increasing demand.

To meet expectations, on May 15, Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services (SMBS) will offer 1 gigabit internet speeds to customers in their service area, which includes Jackson, Lakefield, Round Lake, Bingham Lake, Brewster, Wilder, Heron Lake and Okabena.

“Over the past few years, we’ve just seen the demand increase — as technology has advanced, the demand for more bandwidth comes right with it,” SMBS General Manager Travis Thies said. “So, over the past five to six years, we have basically been upgrading our backbone to sustain those types of speeds.”

The connection is fast and has redundancy…

Theis said the fiber route is unique in that it’s redundant — meaning it has extra safeguards to prevent it from failing.

“We’ve got a fiber main that comes in one end of a town and comes out the other end — think of it as a big ring — and all of the cities fall into place along that ring,” Thies said. “So if there’s ever a rural fiber that is damaged, with that redundancy, that keeps us from having an outage in an entire town, we’ve got the ability for all of our data to flow the other way around the ring until the network is restored.”

In addition to building out cities along the fiber ring, houses and businesses on the route have access to the broadband service. The service doesn’t veer far off of the route, as extending fiber out to individual households generally isn’t economically viable for the provider.

Their last comment illustrates the need for continued public funding. It is shortsighted to leave costly upgrades to the provider when whole communities thrive on better broadband.