What is RS Fiber?

RS Fiber is a community driven effort to bring a high-speed fiber-optic connection to everyone in the project area and provide reliable and affordable Internet, TV, and Phone services.

Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) has become the leading technology for next-generation communications worldwide.

The RS Fiber Cooperative will be owned and democratically controlled by its members. By becoming an RS Fiber customer you will be a part owner of the network. Over 6,200 potential customers will have an opportunity to be connected to the Internet and each other with a fiber-optic line. A fiber-optic line will be ran to every home, business, and government office that subscribes to the service in the following cites and townships:

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

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

Bandon, Cairo, Camp, and Wellington

The RS Fiber Cooperative will be financed from multiple sources. The 10 cities and 17 townships that voted to join the project have formed a Joint Powers Agreement to collectively sell a $13.7 million Generally Obligated (G.O.) Tax Abatement Bond and make an economic development loan to the RS Fiber Cooperative. The cooperative will make the bond payments on behalf of the cities and townships.

The RS Fiber Cooperative project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a permanent, lasting and positive investment in our future. For rural residents it represents an opportunity to bring technology to their homes that will never happen again. The phone companies have already said rural residents must settle for wireless or slow DSL technology and cable companies are not interested in serving them.

What is a cooperative?

A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons who voluntarily cooperate for their mutual social, economic, and cultural benefit.

A cooperative is a legal entity owned and democratically controlled by its members. Members often have a close association with the enterprise as producers or consumers of its products or services. Cooperatives are typically based on the cooperative values of “self-help, self-responsibility, democracy and equality, equity, and solidarity” and the seven cooperative principles:

  • Voluntary & Open Membership
  • Democratic Member Control
  • Members’ Economic Participation
  • Autonomy & Independence
  • Education, Training, & Information
  • Cooperation Among Cooperatives
  • Concern for Community

Cooperatives are dedicated to the values of openness, social responsibility, and caring for others. Economic benefits are distributed proportionally to each member’s level of participation in the cooperative, for instance, by a dividend on sales or purchases, rather than according to capital invested.

Utility Cooperative

A utility cooperative is a type of consumer cooperative tasked with the delivery of a public utility such as electricity, water, or telecommunications services to its members. Profits are either reinvested into infrastructure or distributed to members in the form of “patronage” or “capital credits”, which are essentially dividends paid on a member’s investment into the cooperative.

In the United States, many cooperatives were formed to provide rural electrical and telephone service as part of the New Deal.

RS Fiber Cooperative

The RS Fiber Cooperative was formed in late 2012 as a 308B Minnesota Cooperative. Most of the older cooperatives in existence today are 308A cooperatives. A 308B cooperative can raise outside capital more easily than a 308A cooperative.

There are patron and non-patron members in a 308B cooperative. Patron members have a controlling voice in the economic interests over non-patron members. A 308B cooperative has a corporate shield comparable to a corporation as well as a board of directors made up of patron and non-patron members that is elected by members at an annual meeting.

Cooperative Membership Advantage

By becoming an RS Fiber customer you will be a part owner of the network. Assuming the Cooperative generates profits, as it is projected to do, the Cooperative will allocate its earnings to members on the basis of use rather than investment. A minimum of 20% of those allocations must be paid in cash. The remaining up to 80% of those allocations is accounted for in each member’s name as equity. Eventually that allocated equity is redeemed to members in cash—again assuming the Cooperative has sufficient working capital—based on policies approved by the Board of Directors.