For episode 302 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast, Christopher carries on his conversation with Gary Evans, retired President and CEO of Hiawatha Broadband Communications (HBC), an independent ISP in Minnesota. This is the second opportunity for Christopher and Gary to talk about HBC’s historical role in bringing high-quality connectivity to rural areas. Be sure to listen to episode 297, when Gary and Christopher concentrate on the history of the company.
In this conversation, Gary and Christopher focus on the idea of connecting smaller communities in order to bring high-quality connectivity to America beyond its urban centers. As part of the conversation, they discuss how HBC has worked with other systems, including networks in places like Monticello, North St. Paul, and Renville and Sibley Counties in Minnesota, Wisconsin providers, and Burlington, Vermont. There have been some rough patches along with some great successes and Gary addresses both. He talks about connections he’s made, lessons he’s learned, and partnership approaches that work.
Gary also dedicates a few moments to his time and the great work done by the Blandin Foundation, one of Minnesota’s most active organizations to bring better Internet access an adoption to Greater Minnesota.
We want to preserve Gary’s experiences and advice, so once again we kept this episode longer than most; it runs about 53 minutes.
When we launched this podcast in 2012, we kicked it off with an interview from Minnesota's farm country, Sibley County. We were excited at their passion for making sure every farm was connected with high quality Internet access.
After the project took a turn and became a brand new cooperative, we interviewed them again in 2014 for episode 99, but they hadn't finished financing. They broke ground 2015 and today we discuss the model and the new Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) case study that details how they built it.
City of Winthrop Economic Development Authority Director Mark Erickson and Renville-area farmer Jake Rieke are both on the board of RS Fiber Cooperative and they join us to explain how their model works.
We at ILSR believe this model could work in much of rural America, in any community that can summon a fraction of the passion of the citizens from Sibley and Renville counties. Having watched this project for all the years it was being developed, I cannot express how impressed I am with their dedication. And because they own it, I'm thrilled to know that no one can take it away from them.
Read the transcript from this show here.
We want your feedback and suggestions for the show – please e-mail us or leave a comment below.
This show is 35 minutes long and can be played below on this page or via iTunes or via the tool of your choice using this feed.
You can download this mp3 file directly from here. Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.
Thanks to Kathleen Martin for the music, licensed using Creative Commons. The song is “Player vs. Player.”
In the nearly two years since we launched this podcast with an interview from Minnesota's rural Sibley County, the project has evolved significantly but the need for better Internet access remains a constant.
Today, we interview Coop Vice-Chair Cindy Gerholz and Winthrop Town Manager Mark Erickson to get an update on the fiber-to-the-farm project. The Renville-Sibley Fiber project has transitioned from a municipal project to a cooperative. Local towns and a sizeable majority of townships will together issue an economic development bond to provide seed capital to the coop.
We discuss the project, financing arrangements, and the need to make sure that no one is left behind. Stay up to date with the project on their website and Facebook.
Read the transcript from our discussion here.
We want your feedback and suggestions for the show – please e-mail us or leave a comment below. Also, feel free to suggest other guests, topics, or questions you want us to address.
This show is 20 minutes long and can be played below on this page or via iTunes or via the tool of your choice using this feed.
Listen to previous episodes here. You can can download this Mp3 file directly from here.
Find more episodes in our podcast index.
Thanks to Valley Lodge for the music, licensed using Creative Commons. The song is “Sweet Elizabeth.”