Wireless internet service keeps most rural residents connected in southwestern Minnesota – West Central Tribune

MVTV wireless

GRANITE FALLS

As millions of dollars in federal and state grants help bring fiber-optic broadband cable to more and more locations nationwide, one wireless Internet provider remains confident in its future.

MVTV Wireless logo

Stock Photo / MVTV Wireless

MVTV Wireless Internet has continued to grow its customer base since it began offering wireless Internet services in 1999. It expects continued, albeit slow, growth as it continues to reinvest in equipment and new technology to remain a state-of-the-art provider, company representatives told the Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners Dec. 27. .

Tim Johnson, operations manager, told the commissioners that the company continues to add new members. “(We’re) not growing in leaps and bounds, but (we’re) growing by hundreds of customers every year,” he said.

Johnson and Pam Rosenau, the company’s director of marketing, said MVTV continues to serve and add customers in some rural areas where new fiber optic cables have been installed for broadband service. Cost remains an important factor for customers deciding to connect fiber, and some rural areas are seeing new residential areas after fiber is installed at existing sites, they noted.

Pam Rosenau

MVTV is a non-profit organization owned by its members who subscribe to its wireless internet services. Headquartered in Granite Falls, its licensed base trading area includes Yellow Medicine, Chippewa, Renville, Lincoln, and Lyon counties. According to Johnson, it is the dominant rural provider in this area, with 25 to 30% of rural households.

The total range is much greater. It serves rural customers across 27 counties in southwestern Minnesota and adjacent areas of South Dakota and Iowa.

The Minnesota Valley Television Improvement Association began rebroadcasting Twin Cities television stations on UHF channels in 1960. It reached more than 2,500 homes with antenna-based TV. It ended its UHF television service in 2020.

Rosenau said MVTV has grown from a one-employee, one-tower company with the start of its Internet service in 1999 to a network with 198 towers and 21 employees today. It serves a customer base of over 7,000.

During his presentation to the district administration, Johnson outlined the company’s efforts to further increase the capacity available on the system to subscribers. It is looking at options for next-generation services and awaiting decisions from the Federal Communications Commission on licensing the necessary frequencies.

Tim Johnson

Johnson described the company’s system as a hybrid. Fiber optic cable forms the backbone of the system, connecting the towers that provide wireless service to customers.

In addition to continuing to provide Internet services, the company is interested in expanding its management services to rural customers. Farming customers are increasingly relying on the Internet for everything from security cameras and devices that monitor grain bins to IT equipment that is part of their tractors and field equipment. Johnson said whether those farmers are MVTV customers or not, the company has the expertise to help them manage their separate on-farm networks.

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