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Some creative thinking saved the broadband dreams of 10 cities in two Minnesota counties. Could cooperatives (co-ops) provide the magic bullet for municipalities encumbered with funding and political hurdles?
Communities in Renville and Sibley Counties created the RS Fiber Cooperative to address rural communication needs. Recently the communities decided to lend the co-op funds they need to build a fiber and wireless infrastructure to cover the towns and farmlands in the co-op's service area. The arrangement resolves several challenges that a number of communities face:
Mark Erickson, Winthrop, MN EDA Director and a key contributor to the project joins us to talk us through the complexities of the financial arrangement and the benefits of having the co-op take the lead on the network buildout. He also discusses the role of co-ops in the bigger broadband picture as they take aggressive action in deploying networks.
My new book, Building the Gigabit City, Vol 2, devotes significant coverage to co-ops and their increasing impact on broadband.