I’ve been trying to keep an eye on what’s happening in terms of the Minnesota Broadband Bill across the state. I must admit, I haven’t seen a ton happening at the state level – but it’s clearly had an impact on providers and community leaders. Last week I wrote about an editorial in the Grand Forks Herald where Ann Temte talks about the Broadband Bill and local (NW MN) efforts to have an impact on federal plans.
This week I have an article mostly about a provider (Mankato-based Hickory Tech) talking about how they measure up to the goals set out by the Broadband Bill. Well, it features a couple of providers and two Ultra High Speed Broadband Task Force members (Brent Christensen and Jack Geller).
The article makes the point that Hickory Tech and other providers have done well by the communities they serve. In terms of Hickory Tech…
In the past decade, Mankato-based HickoryTech went from zero DSL customers to 19,500 and went from no digital TV customers to 10,000. And in that time, the company has increased its DSL speeds 15 times.
HickoryTech recently announced the expansion of its fiber-optic network to Sioux Falls and Fargo. The expansion will add 350 fiber route miles to HickoryTech’s existing 2,400 fiber route miles.
And in terms of other providers…
“In rural areas, we’ve kept up very well compared to our urban counterparts,” says Christensen, whose family owns the Madelia Communications company that began nearly a century ago as the local phone company.
“We had broadband in Madelia before they had it in parts of the (Twin Cities) suburbs. It’s the economic lifeblood of small communities.” Christensen recalls the value of broadband to local businesses as the firm began offering it over dial-up service in 2000. The local Polaris dealer needed faster speeds to process warranties and other information Polaris needed. And the House of Print, a printing firm in Madelia, was one of the first to get high-speed Internet.
I think it’s worth nothing that both providers are (or at least started out) local. They are close to the ground and listen to what their customers need. The article clearly applauds the efforts of local providers and the fact that they have done well to get access to 94 percent of the state’s population.