Broadband over copper will not be retired before the end of the decade

Fierce Telecom reports

There’s no question operators are eager to move away from copper and for good reason. In a recap of its recent Fiber-to-the-Future Conference, New Street Research’s Jonathan Chaplin noted “All the ILECs we spoke to seemed to agree that there are significant opex and maintenance capex savings to be gleaned from either replacing copper with fiber or FWB [fixed wireless broadband].” But Chaplin added Verizon executives said the regulatory process around retirement “isn’t straightforward” and he concluded “mass copper retirement is not right around the corner.”

Part of the problem is the sheer scale of the transition. NSR’s Blair Levin pointed out in a separate note Verizon still has approximately 12 million locations served with copper. Meanwhile, the team at MoffettNathanson noted copper subscribers account for around 60% of AT&T’s consumer wireline business. AT&T’s copper footprint currently covers around 60 million locations and while the operator is looking to cut that figure to 30 million by 2025, that would still leave it with 30 million locations to go. Chaplin deemed AT&T’s plan “optimistic” given the short timeline and regulatory challenges Verizon has encountered.

Operators like AT&TFrontier CommunicationsLumen Technologies and Brightspeed (assuming their acquisition of assets from Lumen is approved later this year) have all unveiled plans for major fiber deployments. But Dell’Oro Group VP Jeff Heynen told Fierce these won’t come fast enough or cover enough ground to spell the end of copper before the decade is out. He noted Dell’Oro is forecasting that by 2026 there will still be 400,000 DSL CPE units and around 130,000 new ports shipped in North America, which will be used for copper network maintenance.

“All of these operators have plans to overbuild with fiber, but it’s going to be around until the end of the decade. The thing is you can’t build out fiber that fast,” he explained. “When you’re doing fiber you’ve got far more labor and permitting that can extend the timeline, so in the meantime you’ve got to continue to rely on copper.”

On the one hand this is a “we can only do what we can only do” circumstance. It’s a big job and it will take time. On the other hand, if you’re in a community with a lot of copper, now is a good time to start squeaking your wheel. The digital divide is going to deepen for those stuck in copper ghettos. So much money is going into broadband in the next few years – it’s a good time to get to the front of the line. Not only will your speeds likely not be getting faster but other households will and the assumption/expectation will be that most people have fiber. Suddenly telehealth, remote work and homework will rely on better broadband. We got a taste of that during the pandemic; so you know what it will be like.

Willmar City Council looking at fiber to industrial park with VIBRANT

The West Central Tribune reports

The Willmar City Council gave its Planning and Development staff the OK to continue working with VIBRANT Broadband on a project would bring fiber broadband into the city’s Industrial Park. The city could then build off that backbone to offer fiber to homes across the city.

The background…

The County Board and the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission have been working hard to bring high-speed broadband projects to areas in the county that are either underserved or unserved. Most of these projects will be fiber-to-home, the best internet technology available.

While Kandiyohi County is attempting to fill its broadband holes, some in Willmar are worried about being left behind. While residents and businesses in the city can get some version of high-speed internet, it might end up being of a lower quality than what rural areas might soon have.

“The plan being developed by the county was going to leave Willmar in a deficit. Willmar was going to have worse internet than the build-out in the rest of the county,” said Willmar Mayor Marv Calvin at Monday’s council meeting, adding that residential internet in Willmar is woefully under what it should and needs to be.

The plan to bring fiber to the city…

That response led Walker to VIBRANT Broadband, part of the Meeker Cooperative Light and Power Association, on a project that would bring a fiber internet line the 19 miles from Atwater to the Willmar Industrial Park. The city could then use that fiber line as the backbone for a city fiber network to expand fiber-to-home opportunities to residents, perhaps as early as next year. Walker said there were no projects currently being planned for Kandiyohi County that would bring fiber broadband to Willmar.

A draft letter of intent and contract with the company has Willmar paying approximately 80% of the estimated $1.25 million project, or no more than $1 million. Walker said that money could come from the city’s Industrial Park Fund, though discussions could be had about using the city’s American Rescue Plan Act money as well.

The council said move ahead…

The council gave its approval for Walker to continue working with VIBRANT on a project for Willmar. No contracts or projects were approved Monday night, just the OK to continue ironing out a potential agreement with the internet service provider.

Arvig to Upgrade parts of Redwood, Otter Tail and Becker Counties (MN)

The Grand Forks Herald reports…

Arvig says it will invest $19.9 million in construction projects to improve internet access and upgrade networks in seven rural Minnesota areas in 2022.

The company is entering the sixth year of a 10-year commitment to use its share of funding from the FCC’s Alternative Connect America Cost Model (ACAM) to build and improve internet networks in rural areas. This year, crews will service the rural areas of Audubon, Morgan, Parkers Prairie, Perham, Red Del, Vesta and Walnut Grove.

When construction is complete later this fall, residents in the affected areas will have access to internet speeds up to 1 gigabit per second, as well as television and phone service.

Fiber is lifting rural areas – such as Bemidji’s Locate218

Clearfield CEO Cheri Beranek has a letter in Entrepreneur on the impact of fiber in rural areas…

According to the data aggregation company BroadbandNow, an estimated 42 million Americans still have no access to broadband Internet service, most of them in rural areas. Without the speed, latency and reliability of the fiber-fed networks being deployed in cities, the rural economic divide will likely continue to widen. At the same time, a 2021 Deloitte study found that a 10% increase in broadband access in 2014 would have generated more than 875,000 additional jobs and $186 billion in economic output in the U.S. by 2019. Another 10 megabits-per-second (Mbps) faster average speeds in 2016 would have added 139,400 new jobs.

With broadband entering its largest investment cycle ever, a community’s economic survival will increasingly depend on its Internet, and only fiber optic-based solutions will be enough to compete.

She offers Bemidji’s Relocate218 as an example of what’s going right…

Other areas are using broadband to draw in new residents. Bemidji, Minnesota, with a population of 15,000, is attempting to capitalize on its fiber-optic network with Relocate 218, an incentive program to draw more remote workers that includes a free co-working space and a $2,500 reimbursement for moving expenses.

Frustration in Le Sueur County about being stalled as RDOF gives dibs to LTD – but so far no contract

I’ve written about the situation in Le Sueur County before. They have been working to get better broadband for years. Then a provider (LTD) was awarded the possibility of getting a big chunk of federal money (RDOF) to bring FTTH in several parts of Minnesota including parts of Le Sueur. Le Sueur County News has more – and frankly the fact that a local paper gets into such details about a complex issue speaks to the priority and urgency the community feels…

Many under-served and unserved areas of Le Sueur County are now ineligible for Border to Border grant dollars since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auctioned over $408 million in grants to internet service providers to construct fiber optic networks across northeastern and southern Minnesota.

Of all the companies competing for grants, the largest sum is expected to go to a little-known ISP: LTD Broadband. The telecom provider bid for over $311,000 in 102,000 locations across the state. LTD’s planned fiber optic network encompasses approximately two thirds of unserved and under-served areas in the county.

Gov. Tim Walz announced the state would reject broadband grant applications in places that federal auction grant winners plan to build. State officials have claimed it would be wasteful to invest state dollars in projects overlapping with projects that could receive funds from the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF).

But the RDOF grants are still preliminary, and many experts have raised concern that LTD Broadband can’t meet its goals. At this time, LTD is a smaller provider with over 2,100 wireless towers, but the company aims to use $1.3 billion in grant monies to rapidly expand its service area to bring high speed internet to 500,000 locations across the country within the six-year time frame required by RDOF.

At that scale, local broadband advocates doubted that the federal grant money would go far.

“For the whole county, it’s $1 million in federal dollars for what is a multi-million dollar project,” said Le Sueur County Broadband Consultant Barbara Droher-Kline. “How viable is it for LTD, with $1 million, to bring fiber to the door of every household?”

The County continues to work for better broadband, but this RDOF process is currently creating more barrier than opportunity…

With federal dollars from the CARES Act, Le Sueur County pursued an aggressive strategy to expand rural internet access. About 420 homes in Waterville, Kilkenny, Montgomery, Cordova, Sharon, Lexington, and Kasota townships were connected to a 49-mile fiber optic network built by Metronet in partnership with the county.

Le Sueur County hoped to continue to build out from those networks with Border-to-Border grant applications, proposing to connect high speed fiber optic cables in Lexington, Montgomery, Kilkenny, Cordova, Sharon, Ottawa and Kasota townships. Fiber was planned to be in the ground this past spring, and the network would have been fully operational by the end of next year.

But the county’s applications were rejected by the state, since the RDOF award to LTD Broadband overlapped with the project area.

“It’s a blockage of dollars. It’s not a resource for us,’ said Droher-Kline.

FTTP broadband providers MetroNet, Vexus merge

Light Wave reports

MetroNet says it has merged with fellow independent fiber broadband network provider Vexus Fiber. The combined companies will continue to operate under their current brands and with their current executive rosters. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Vexus, based in Lubbock, TX, deploys and operates FTTP networks in Texas and Louisiana, with plans for expansion into New Mexico. Markets currently served in those states include Lubbock, Amarillo, Wichita Falls, Abilene, and surrounding areas in Texas, as well as Hammond, Covington, and Mandeville in Louisiana. New FTTP networks are in various stages of deployment in the Rio Grande Valley (see “Vexus Fiber to build FTTH network in Rio Grande Valley Area of Texas”), Tyler, Nacogdoches, and San Angelo, TX; Lake Charles, LA; and Albuquerque and Santa Fe, NM. Investors in the company included Pamlico Capital and Oak Hill Capital.

MetroNet operates or is constructing FTTP networks in more than 120 communities across Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin, and Missouri. It received a cash infusion from KKR last April (see “KKR to take stake in MetroNet as part of new funding round”). Oak Hill Capital also is an investor.

Both companies offer gigabit or faster broadband services to their residential and business customers.

CTC to Expand Fiber Footprint in Northeast Minnesota (Carlton and St Louis Counties)

Great news from CTC

Consolidated Telephone Company (CTC) recently secured a state-of-the-art, allfiber network spanning nearly 610 miles in northeast Minnesota, allowing them to provide high-speed, reliable internet services to businesses and residents throughout the area.

A newly established, long-term partnership agreement with the Northeast Service Cooperative (NESC) allowed for the growth. The network represents 3,160 route miles of fiber: a 20% increase in CTC’s service area. Most importantly, the move will boost the economic capacity of the region, more readily allowing for business growth and workforce development.

“Not only does this tie in with our strategic plan but it will spur business innovation and lead to more job opportunities,” said Kristi Westbrock, CEO/General Manager at CTC. “Plus, it will allow us to have a deeper connection with local cities and townships and more easily secure state and federal funding to get internet to those who need it most.”

“CTC has a proven track record serving Northern Minnesota with reliable telecommunications services and innovative business solutions”, said Paul Brinkman, Executive Director at NESC. “We are delighted to enter into a long-term partnership with CTC to expand high-capacity broadband access and job-creating business development in St. Louis and Carlton Counties.”

The fiber network spans the cities of Cloquet, Hibbing, Chisholm, Mountain Iron, Virginia, Eveleth, Gilbert, Biwabik, Tower, Ely, Aurora, and the surrounding areas and will provide broadband internet of up to 10 Gigabits. For more information and a map of the area visit http://www.goctc.com/NESC.

 

Sytek deploys 100 miles of fiber to server Morrison County and looks at the ReConnect Broadband grant to continue

Brainerd Dispatch reports

Sytek, a telephone and internet provider located in Upsala, was awarded a Minnesota Border to Border Broadband Grant in 2020 and has since placed 100 miles of fiber, extending service to 300 additional homes.

“I am thrilled to hear that Sytek is working hard with the resources available to provide broadband service to hundreds of additional homes in our community,” said grant supporter Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, in a news release. “I look forward to supporting their bid for additional grants to extend service to more rural homes in the future, and I thank them for doing hard work to ensure Central Minnesota residents have the resources they need to support local students, employees, and businesses.”

Sytek will be seeking an additional grant from the Reconnect Broadband program, which would allow them to serve up to 1,000 more homes in rural Minnesota.

Carver County Commissioner asks – What if county had 100% fiber broadband?

Carver County Commissioner Matt Uderman asks his neighbors to think about FTTH (via SW News Media)…

What if Carver County was the first county in Minnesota with 100% fiber broadband?

Nearly 15% of America (as of 2018), and an estimated 11% of Carver County don’t have high speed access. Compare that to 99.6% of U.S. households that have complete plumbing and effectively 100% with access to electricity.

Broadband access (or lack thereof) has created a digital divide that impacts economic, social, health and educational outcomes. Some call broadband fuel for ‘digital prosperity’ and the bridge of physical infrastructure and social infrastructure — others simply say access is necessary in today’s world.

‘Broadband For All’ undoubtedly would be a significant selling point for current and future residents, businesses, overall economic development, closing of educational connectivity and access gaps, reduced digital seclusion/loneliness and associated health implications, closing of rural/city digital divides, access to telehealth (think more convenient care for grandma and grandpa while living independently and a click away from medical assistance), the fostering of future competition (and eventually even better pricing), attracting top work from home talent free to work wherever they choose, and more.

What do you think? I invite your thoughts on pursuing bringing broadband fiber to the entire county and the overall impact personal, professional and social impact.

HBC Bringing 10 Gigabit Residential Fiber Service to Winona

Good news for Winona…

The City of Winona is about to become the fastest broadband community in southeastern Minnesota. Hiawatha Broadband Communications, Inc. (HBC) has announced it will be constructing a new Fiber-To-The-Premise (FTTP) network in Winona, MN.
HBC President, Dan Pecarina, made the announcement today saying the time has come to update the existing network with state-of-the-art fiber-optics. The project will
allow HBC to provide faster Internet speeds than any other service provider in the area.
“In 2022, HBC is celebrating its 25th anniversary. And what better way to begin our 25th year of serving the Winona community than to build a new, state-of-the-art, fiber-optic network,” said Pecarina. “This new network will provide service speeds of up to 10 Gigabits to our Winona customers, the fastest broadband Internet available.”
Pecarina stressed that all Internet speeds will be symmetrical, meaning a connection with equal download and upload speeds. Gigabit symmetrical speeds are best
delivered with FTTP networks.
“Customers are going to notice their Internet connection will be much smoother and faster, with noticeably lower latency. Higher upload speeds are becoming more and
more necessary given the growth and usage of video conferencing, virtual reality, and other two-way communication services. We are extremely excited about this project and the benefits it will offer Winona’s residents and businesses,” he said.
Construction is scheduled to begin this spring. The project will employ XGS-PON technology which, according to Jim Kronebusch, HBC VP of Technology, will allow the delivery of 10 Gigabit Internet services.
HBC is deploying GigaHome Blast routers in customer’s homes so they can take full advantage of the ultra-fast Internet speeds and allow them to manage their home WiFi
network.
“These routers are WiFi 6 capable, extremely reliable, extraordinarily versatile, and offer exceptional range. And if needed, our Mesh WiFi extenders will fully cover any
size home, and even the garage or back yard” Kronebusch said. “And with our HBC GigaHome app, customers will be able to control their home networks themselves. This includes network security, parental controls, and more.”

HBC’s predecessor, Luminet, was created in 1992 by Bob Kierlin, founder of Fastenal.
Kierlin and others in the community, created the network to connect Winona’s government, health care, business, K-12 and post-secondary education facilities with plans for that network to eventually provide access to City of Winona residents. In 1997, Luminet’s board of directors voted to build a community-wide hybrid fiber-coax network that would serve the greater Winona area and HBC was born.
After completing construction of the network in Winona, HBC expanded its reach adding the communities of St. Charles and Wabasha, with Wabasha being the company’s first all-fiber-optic network in 2005.
Since then, HBC has grown to serve more than 30 towns and cities throughout southeastern Minnesota, with 28 of those being Fiber-To-The-Premise (FTTP) communities. In 2021, HBC began construction of a FTTP network in Hastings, MN.
The company also serves thousands of homes and businesses in some of the most rural areas with its fixed-wireless broadband product, HBC Air.
HBC also built and manages the RS Fiber Cooperative network in central Minnesota.
This network has brought gigabit broadband service to the rural towns and farming areas in parts of five counties.

Kandiyohi County and Reps Baker and Lang make broadband a hot topic

The West Central Tribune reports…

State Rep. Dave Baker and Sen. Andrew Lang, during a visit to the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners, agreed with the commissioners on the importance of getting broadband to the rural areas of the county. Both said completing changes to legislation language and grant matches were important priorities for this year’s legislative session.

Broadband was a hot topic…

The topic the group spent the most time on during Tuesday’s meeting was broadband. Since early 2021, the county board has made expanding the reach of high speed broadband a high priority, even pledging up to 75% of its coronavirus relief funds from the American Rescue Plan act to the cause.

“This group of people are very committed to broadband,” said Connie Schmoll, who has been working on county broadband projects on a contracted basis.

In recent months the state and federal government have also brought broadband forward as a priority, in part due to the pandemic and how it showed the need for high speed internet access across the nation. The federal infrastructure bill includes hundreds of millions of dollars for broadband infrastructure, some of which will come to Minnesota.

“It has become the new rural electric issue. It is infrastructure, it has to happen,” said Commissioner Rollie Nissen.

However, not everything is running smoothly in getting broadband projects approved, funded and constructed. Some of the rules and regulations attached to state broadband grants and federal funding are making it difficult for the county to put all the pieces together. Kandiyohi County has its eye on both a federal grant and a state Border to Border grant, but those regulations are slowing the process.

One of the biggest issues still be hashed out is whether both the state and local units of government like Kandiyohi County can use American Rescue Plan act dollars to fund the same broadband project. Kandiyohi County wants to use part of its ARP money to fund the 50% local match required of the state Border to Border broadband grant. However, the state might use its ARP money to pay its half of the project as well, and state law doesn’t allow that.

“That would really be helpful, if we would remove some of those barriers applying for those grants,” Imdieke said.

The county would also like to see the match local governments are asked to pay when awarded a state broadband grant, presently 50%, to be lowered, to make it easier for more rural areas to participate.

They have run into a familiar hiccup…

Yet another barrier is the inability for the county, when using the state Border to Border program, to be able to extend broadband to areas already within the purview of a private service provider, whether that business provides the service to that area or not. Incumbent first right of refusal means if an unserved or underserved area is within the service area of a private internet provider, that provider can block a Border to Border funded project from moving forward. The county has run into problems with this rule in the past. Kleindl would like to see that rule removed.

Both Baker and Lange agreed that changes needed to be made to the rules. What may have made sense years ago, such as the first right of refusal or the size of grant matches, might no longer work.

“I think it is policy getting in the way,” Baker said. “Money isn’t the issue.”

The county board, Schmoll and others are pushing for those changes to be made quickly, in time for grants to be awarded and projects to be moved forward for construction.

Le Sueur talks to State Reps and Senator about frustration with RDOF and State grants creating blockage for better broadband

Le Sueur County News reports…

According to a report by the Blandin Foundation, nearly one in four Le Sueur County households are under-served or unserved. But despite the record $70 million in Border to Border grants, Le Sueur County is at risk of not seeing a single cent in state grants.

Many under-served and unserved areas of Le Sueur County are now ineligible for Border to Border grant dollars since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auctioned over $408 million in grants to internet service providers to construct fiber optic networks across northeastern and southern Minnesota.

Of all the companies competing for grants, the largest sum is expected to go to a little-known ISP: LTD Broadband. The telecom provider bid for over $311,000 in 102,000 locations across the state. LTD’s planned fiber optic network encompasses approximately two thirds of unserved and under-served areas in the county.

I’ve written before about the situation in Le Sueur, they have been ineligible for state funding because of the LTD proposed opportunity with RDOF. So far nothing has changed as we wait to hear with LTD gets the funding but Le Sueur has been working to tell the story and on new plans…

Le Sueur County officials and the Board of Commissioners aired these frustrations to state legislators in a meeting on Tuesday. County officials pushed Sen. Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake), Rep. Todd Lippert (DFL-Northfield) and Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont) to bring the eligibility issue to the DEED Office, which distributes Border-to-Border grants, and the governor’s office.

“It seems that the state is going to receive a significant amount of money from the federal government for broadband investments, and if this policy issue isn’t addressed, we’re not going to be eligible for these investments,” said County Administrator Joe Martin.

Draheim responded that the state was tied by conditions attached to federal dollars and believe the county’s concerns are primarily tied to the federal government’s actions.

“I think it stems more from the federal government than the state government,” said Draheim. “I definitely will be in contact with the broadband department and others at the state level to see if there’s anything we could work around, but I think we need to be talking to Washington and not St. Paul.”

Draheim offered to have a non-partisan staff member answer clarifying questions on whether it was a state decision or federal conditions that led to the county’s grant request being denied.

In the future, Draheim advocated for the state to shift its focus away from fiber networks and toward subsidizing rural high speed internet through satellite dishes.

”It’s very disappointing for Le Sueur County that we’re in this position. Moving forward, I think the state legislators are going to have to look at what’s the next step,” said Draheim. “We have literally pumped billions of dollars into internet across Minnesota. Unfortunately, most of those federal dollars go to ‘rural internet,’ but it just connects large cities through rural Minnesota and doesn’t help the people of rural Minnesota.”

I think it’s worth noting Draheim’s focus on satellite. I’m afraid we may see a resurgence of interest in satellite in the legislature because it has gotten better but it still does not compete with the fiber, which is built for today’s need and future needs. People and businesses will move to an area with fiber to build a future; they won’t move to areas with satellite-only.

Fiber Broadband Enters Largest Investment Cycle Ever

The Fiber Association reports…

The Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) today announced the results of its 2021 Fiber Provider Study that reveals fiber broadband is strong and entering the largest investment cycle ever. The research, performed by RVA LLC Market Research & Consulting (RVA), shows that fiber broadband now passes over 60.5 million homes in the U.S. alone—a 12% growth in 2021. The increase in deployments can be attributed to the fact that fiber continues to score higher than any other broadband technology—such as cable, satellite or wireless—in terms of capacity, reliability, latency and customer satisfaction. These benefits have created competition among more diverse sizes and types of service providers that are now racing to reach more subscribers with fiber. The Study suggests that if all federal infrastructure funding is directed at fiber, there could be more fiber deployed in the next five years than all the fiber deployed to-date, enabling the initial U.S. FTTH build to be nearing completion by the end of this decade.

“It is through research like the Fiber Provider Study that we’re able to educate the industry on the benefits of fiber and the positive impact fiber can have on local communities. When every community can leverage fiber optics for its critical infrastructure, we’ll open endless possibilities for prosperity,” said Gary Bolton, President and CEO at the Fiber Broadband Association. “The private sector is increasing its understanding of the importance of fiber and government efforts to close the digital divide have never been greater. This momentum is exciting and sets the stage for our industry to finally deliver digital equity to everyone regardless of where they live, work or play.”

The Study revealed that 43% of U.S. households and 60% of Canadian households now have access to fiber. Larger providers such as AT&T, Verizon, Lumen and the top five cable MSOs have built nearly three-fourths (72%) of overall fiber broadband access, with Tier 2 regional operators like Windstream, Frontier, Consolidated and TDS making up 10% of the growth. Unique to the U.S., over 1,200 Tier 3 market players with smaller projects ranging from a single state to three or four states compose the other 17% to 18% of the build. This group includes a mix of rural telcos, private competitive carriers, rural electric companies, smaller cable companies and municipalities.

While there is currently a steady increase in fiber deployments, there are several challenges that the industry will have to overcome before it can complete FTTH builds within this decade. Supply chain and labor shortages were the greatest perceived concern of mid-size and small providers. The FBA has welcomed several supply chain speakers on recent episodes of its Fiber for Breakfast series to offer guidance on how to navigate through the challenges. To address labor concerns, the FBA created its Optical Telecom Installation Certification (OpTIC) Program to design expert fiber broadband curriculum, fill the existing fiber skills gap and accelerate fiber deployments across North America.

Fiber providers are also concerned about how to ensure that the vast majority of federal funding goes to fiber. The FBA continues to conduct research and provide evidence that investing federal money in non-fiber broadband is irresponsible because fiber-based broadband performance metrics measure the highest for download and upload speed, latency and reliability. Additionally, the FBA is working with the NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association to publish a Broadband Infrastructure Playbook to assist State governments in best leveraging infrastructure funding. The Playbook will outline the benefits for consumers and communities of directing funds towards reliable future-proof fiber networks, recommendations for best structuring State broadband programs, templates for funding applications and more.

 

Change in broadband provider ownership (Federated Rural) in Jackson, Cottonwood, Nobles, Martin, Murray and Brown Counties

The Worthington Globe reports

Federated Rural Electric’s Board of Directors approved the acquisition of Back 40 Wireless on Nov. 30.

Back 40 Wireless is a wireless internet company currently owned by Troy Rasmussen doing business from downtown Jackson. The transfer of ownership to Federated will take place on Dec. 31, with a formal closing on Jan. 7.

The business name will change to Federated Broadband at that time, and Back 40’s existing downtown location at 205 Second St. will close Dec. 31.

Back 40 Wireless provides rural internet service to Jackson, Cottonwood, Nobles, Martin, Murray and Brown counties in Minnesota, as well as Osceola, Dickinson and Emmet counties in Iowa.

“The new business plans include maintaining their great level of service, while expanding our services to reach the entire Federated service area and beyond if requested,” said Scott Reimer, Federated’s general manager. “Federated Broadband will operate independently from the electric utility operations, as a self-sustaining business.”

They are making plans for expansion…

“We will continue working on applying for grants and loans for deploying fiber optic internet in the future for Federated members in both counties,” said David Hansen, Federated Board president. “In fact, the Board approved hiring a consulting firm Dec. 6 to submit Federated’s application for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Reconnect grant and loan program to cover fiber broadband. This application deadline is Feb. 22.”

Federated has experience with providing internet service, as the co-op has offered Wild Blue satellite internet since 2012, which became Exede satellite service. The remaining Federated satellite customers will be offered the faster service through Federated Broadband.

Federated is a Touchstone Energy cooperative serving 6,800 members in Jackson and Martin counties.