Success Story
Release No.STELPRD4021039
SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA BROADBAND SERVICE BRINGS BROADBAND TO RURAL MINNESOTA
, Jun 24, 2013 --

Need:

The City of Round Lake has offered Internet service for over ten years but was only able to obtain Internet backhaul services at a high monthly fee. Prior to the building of this network there was insufficient broadband service in Round Lake to meet the needs of the town, government, and local businesses. Rural customers in Jackson, Cottonwood and Nobles Counties in Rural Minnesota had limited access to next-generation broadband services. Many customers were restricted to dial-up or satellite services.

How Rural Development Helped:

The Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services (SMBS) project is deploying fiber-optic infrastructure to eight rural communities throughout southwestern Minnesota, with a loan totaling $6,350,000 and a grant at $6,350,250 through the USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP). The network will consist of 125-mile fiber ring that will connect the 8 communities and fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) infrastructure within communities that will support 3,649 households. The network will make services available to 292 businesses and 50 anchor institutions.

Results:

Several local businesses have benefited greatly from SMBS’s broadband network. Toro is an international company providing residential and commercial lawn care and snow removal equipment. Toro has a large plant located in Windom MN where its Network Operations Center is located. Due to growth Toro has acquired two large warehouse facilities in the SMBS territory. Toro utilizes a just in time inventory management system and all materials are tracked from vendor to time of use. SMBS provided an Ethernet connection to both locations and networked this back to the factory in the Windomnet service territory via the partnership, helping Toro conduct business more efficiently.   

Firefox X-ray is another company that benefits from SMBS’s broadband service. Firefox X-ray provides a unique service where an employee travels to local jails and performs x-rays on inmates to avoid transporting the prisoner to the hospital, which may be up to 30 miles away.   When the x-ray is completed, the technician travels to one of the SMBS remote access point and upload the x-ray to a radiologist in a regional hospital who can provide the diagnosis.  This is a tremendous savings for the jail eliminating transporting a prisoner to a medical facility and providing improved healthcare to inmates.  

By utilizing the SMBS network Round Lake was able to acquire cost-effective backhaul improving the services to rural customers who cannot receive SMBS services. SMBS also provided additional backhaul to network three additional tower locations for Round Lake.

The SMBS network has also improved governmental services in the region. Currently the network is supporting delivering services from the State of Minnesota Office of Enterprise Technology to state facilities in the area and is supporting interconnecting Jackson and Cottonwood counties allowing them to share resources across the two counties.

For more information on the Telecom Program or any of its success stories, contact Jessica Mailander at 202-720-0698 or

Jessica.mailander@wdc.usda.gov

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