A co-op out of Winthrop is gaining momentum in their initiative to provide fiber-optic broadband service in rural Minnesota. 


The RS Fiber Board in collaboration with Hiawatha Broadband Communications in Winona will provide affordable fiber-optic broadband service in ten communities and 17 townships in Renville, Nicollet and Sibley County.


The service aims to provide faster and more reliable access to television, internet, and phone. With a heavy emphasis on agriculture, tele-medicine, and education.


The groups financial planner, and local business man, Phil Keithahn says,  "That's what this does. It levels the playing field for people who live and work in rural America with people who are in the twin cities. So it's an economic development tool for south central Minnesota."


The initiative is expected to serve 1,600 homes and businesses by late 2015 and has the potential to reach more than 6,200 customers by by 2016.


Vice president RS Fiber Cooperative Board, Cindy Gerholtz says, "So we are hoping with that being said with the co-op model we are the owners of the company of the entity. Service pricing are all things we will be able to offer under that umbrella."


While there is currently access to Internet and cable in the area, the board says their fiber service is unique.

There's

's not a single community in Sibley and Renville County that I know of that has fiber into every home. So this provides the highest speed service to every home once the network is built out," says Keithahn.


A complete list of communities and townships included in the initiative are listed below.


 


Cities
Fairfax
Gibbon
Winthrop
Gaylord
New Auburn
Green Isle
Buffalo Lake
Stewart
Brownton
Lafayette


Sibley Townships
Alfsborg
Arlington
Bismarck
Faxon
Grafton
Henderson
Kelso
Moltke
New Auburn
Severance
Sibley
Transit
Washington Lake


Renville Townships
Bandon
Cairo
Camp
Wellington


The four townships all of who are in Sibley County, that did not opt to be in the project in March of 2014 are:

Dryden
Jessenland
Green Isle
Cornish

--KEYC News 12