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The network will be 100% fiber-optic from end to end, all the way to your home or business. Other providers may have a fiber line to a location near you, but the final connection to your home is a slower copper line. Fiber-optics transmit data a greater distance and is best-in-class when it comes to quality and reliability. Comparatively, existing DSL and cable modem Internet services will appear to be standing still. Phone service will be crystal-clear and telephone calls will be of excellent clarity. In short you will receive superior telecommunication services at a more competitive price than you’re paying today.
The network will be owned by RS Fiber Cooperative and operated by HBC, Inc. That means a cooperative board of directors, along with HBC, will manage the project.
The project will result in a fiber-optic line being built to every home, business, and government office that purchases services from the RS Fiber Cooperative in the cities of Fairfax, Gibbon, Winthrop, Gaylord, New Auburn, Green Isle, Buffalo Lake, Stewart, Brownton, and Lafayette. In addition, the fiber network will extend to every farm site in 17 townships across Renville and Sibley County that voted to join the project and are a part of the RS Fiber Project Footprint. Over 6,200 potential customers will have an opportunity to be connected to the Internet and each other with a fiber-optic line.
The project will be financed from multiple sources. The 10 cities and 17 townships in the project area are being asked 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 cooperative will borrow another $42 million from various bank sources to construct and operate the network.
There is an element of risk to the cities and townships. They are being asked to back a $13.7 million loan to the cooperative with their authority to raise taxes to make the loan payments if the cooperative does not make them on their behalf. Because the proceeds of the loan from the cities and townships come from a G.O. Tax Abatement Bond, each city and township must agree to obligate their authority to raise taxes to repay the bond if and only if the cooperative is unable to make the bond payment on their behalf. The risk of the cooperative defaulting on the loan payments is low because of the support for the project in the area and an improved business plan. RS Fiber will be a cooperative and cooperatives are among the most financially sound and reliable businesses.
In late 2012, the poor economy and a nervous revenue bond market prevented financing for the project backed by the joint powers board. The members of the joint powers board looked at options and concluded that a private cooperative would not only make it easier to get financing, but it would also greatly lower the financial risk to everyone involved. The joint powers board met with the cooperative board over several months last fall and both boards came to the conclusion that a private cooperative was a better option for the project. The joint powers board will stay active to make sure their bonds are being repaid, but they will not have ownership of or any operational control over the fiber network. The project will be owned and operated by the private cooperative.
Services will include ultra-fast Internet, VoIP Phone, and Digital Video. Additional services such as farm and home security monitoring, telemedicine services, and automatic meter reading will also be offered. The fiber network supports a technology that will allow you to boost your cell phone signal in and around your home or farm where the cell phone signal is weak.
In the future, there will be new products offered as applications are developed for fiber networks. Cloud services will also be offered to support your software and give you access to your files wherever you may be. That means if you choose, you won’t have to worry about viruses, software updates, etc. When you turn on your computer, you will be instantly on the Internet. And wherever you go in the world, as long as you have high-speed broadband Internet available, you will be able to log into your account and have all of your files available to you. Your files will be secure and backed up.
Fiber is capable of tremendously faster bandwidth than any other technology, including wireless. Existing video and copper phone systems cannot match the bandwidth that fiber is able to deliver. Bandwidth makes every Internet experience better. Having a fiber system in the area will actually enhance cellular coverage because wireless providers like Verizon and AT&T will be able to hook more cell sites up to the fiber. Many of our farms have no broadband of any kind. The fiber network will connect every farm to the Internet with world class Internet speeds.
The truth is that wireless technologies are unable to match the bandwidth or reliability of fiber-optics but they are a good complement to fiber technology. The mobility offered by wireless service is amazing. The fiber network will only make your wireless experience better.
For example, most wireless providers make customers use their home Internet connection (WiFi) to check for email, surf the web, or send text messages. If your Internet connection at home or work is a fiber connection, your experience with your cell phone will be better.
The single strand of fiber that will be connected to every home and business has the potential to handle 100 gigabits or more of bandwidth. Fiber is the only technology that can economically deploy that kind of bandwidth. The fiber infrastructure that will be built is considered future proof. That means the buried fiber line will last for many decades. The electronics on either end of the fiber will be upgraded but the fiber itself will last for a very long time.
The RS Fiber Cooperative board is exploring a management contract with Hiawatha Broadband Communications, Inc. (HBC) in Winona. (www.hbci.com) The cooperative board will be responsible for general oversight of the operations but will contract for day-to-day management of the network. HBC is an experienced operator of fiber networks in Minnesota including Red Wing, Wabasha, Lewiston, Lake City, Plainview, Dover, Eyota, Elgin and more.
The plan is to construct the backbone of the network by burying fiber between all participating communities in the spring of 2015 and hook up a few individual homes and businesses in late 2015. Also in late 2015, the cooperative will offer 25 Mbps symmetrical Air Broadband Internet to rural residents and businesses. In 2016 and 2017, the remaining cities will be constructed with fiber.
There are a number of good reasons to support the new fiber cooperative:
- As a subscriber, you will be an owner in the cooperative, have voting rights to choose those who will make decisions, and earn dividends from the cooperative.
- Prices will be very competitive to what you pay today and it’s likely prices will be lower for a better range of services.
- This project will put our rural school students on equal technology footing with students who live in the metro area and have better access to the Internet.
- Internet speeds will be tremendously faster and more reliable than what are available today.
- The Video service will provide crystal-clear pictures that will not fade in bad weather.
- Fiber is an infrastructure investment and makes our communities ready for the future.
- Construction of a fiber network is expected to create new jobs. Over time this network should attract new employers to the area and help retain the businesses we already have.
- With faster and more reliable Internet, it will be easier for some people to work from home.
- This is an opportunity to make a permanent and lasting investment in our children’s future.
- The dollars you spend to take services stays in the area instead of going to corporate structures out of state.
- As a subscriber, you will be an owner in the cooperative and have voting rights for those who make decisions about its operation.
For the most part, the new network will use the existing internal wiring in your home or office if it is in good shape. We may have to run new wires to get to your computers, and we will replace any wire that is not working well. You can operate as many telephones, computers, and TVs as you want. Most required rewiring will be at no cost to you, however some rewiring will require an additional charge and that will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
That does sound a little strange but the fact is that over short distances of a few hundred feet, copper lines have enough bandwidth to get the job done.
We have tried to include the phone and TV companies in the project, but none have shown any interest in working with us. Early in the project when it was to be owned by the joint powers board, we offered to provide the money to build the network and allow the providers to operate and eventually own the network. They were not interested.
We have met with Winthrop Telephone several times over the past three years about partnering. Like the bigger phone companies, we have told them we would be willing to put up the money to build the network and allow them to operate the network and eventually own it. They have indicated they are not interested in such an arrangement.
You will lease the equipment. If it breaks under normal use, RS Fiber Cooperative will replace the equipment at no charge.
No. You can take one, two, or three of the services. If you take only one service, you may be charged a one-time fee to install the fiber line to your house or a higher monthly fee. While the cooperative board of directors will do everything they can to keep prices low, they must operate the enterprise as a business. The truth is that one service may not produce enough revenue to allow free installation of the fiber line to your home.
Future expansion is something the cooperative board and the network operator will probably consider at a future date. The rule of thumb is that if expansion makes good financial and operational sense, it should be considered.
Billing & Fees
RS Fiber Cooperative will not play the promotional pricing game. We will not offer an introductory price and then proceed to implement a higher price in six or twelve months. It is likely, however, the cost of network programming (ESPN, WCCO, KARE-11, etc.) will increase over time. Some of these cost increases may need to be passed on to our customers. RS Fiber Cooperative faces the same pressures other Video and Phone companies do today with increased programming costs.
We will offer a competitive price, great customer service, and superior products. We cannot and will not get into a price war with our competitors.
RS Fiber residential fiber-optic Internet, Video, and Phone service installations are currently not subject to an installation fee.
RS Air residential Internet and Phone service installation fees apply in some circumstances. See RS Air FAQ section.
Business service installation fees, if applicable, will be quoted at the time of site visit.
You’ll most likely have to wait until that contract runs out, or pay the penalty for early termination.
Yes. If you are switching your telephone provider within the same geographic location and want to keep your current number, we will contact your previous telephone provider and “port” (or move) your number to RS Fiber Phone service. Ex: you move from one address in Gaylord to a new address in Gaylord, or you are simply changing your telephone carrier.
When you move to a new geographic location, it is not always possible to keep the same number. The state of Minnesota has defined local calling areas. If you move from one local calling area to another, you will need a number that is local to your new calling area. Ex: you move from St. Paul, MN to Rochester, MN. Please contact RS Fiber at (800) 628-1754 to find out if you can keep your current number.
The ability to port your phone number is protected under the Federal Communications Commission’s “local number portability” rules.
Yes. The local calling area would be the same from community to community.
The aerial or buried line will stay where it is. The line actually belongs to your phone company. Our project will not disturb the phone or cable line to your home or business.
It will go to the same place it goes now, depending upon where you live. That will not change. All phone carriers route 911 calls to the same Public Service Answering Points, or PSAP. These are the same 911 services and operators you currently have.
RS Fiber will take the necessary steps to make sure your phone number is included in the area phone books.
They will be the same. The basic product will provide 50 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload. Speeds up to 1 gigabit will be available. And the speeds will not slow down when school lets out on a snow day or in the early evening when there are a lot of people using the network. The network is designed specifically to deliver maximum bandwidth to your home or business.
3G and 4G wireless services are offered by cell phone providers (Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T). They generally offer faster Internet connections to your cell phone. The signal can be adapted to provide Internet service to your home computer as well.
The speeds of 4G are much slower than fiber. 4G data service may offer download speeds of up to 5 megabits depending on how many people are using the same cell site you are using and how far you are from the tower. The upload speeds are much slower, usually under 1 megabit.
The RS Fiber Cooperative network will provide an introductory Internet speed of 50 megabits (same upload and download) and will not change regardless of how many other people are on the network at the time. In fact the box on the side of your house or business is capable of delivering up to 100 megabits of bandwidth (upload and download) without changing any electronics. Higher speeds (up to a gigabit) are available but require a new box on the house or business.
No, you will not need a new computer or a new TV because of RS Fiber Cooperative services. But you may discover you will want to upgrade your computer to take advantage of the new services (video streaming for example) that will be possible with the new fiber network.
The Video product will include the networks you want to watch plus many of the movie channels that are available on satellite today. The system will carry High-Definition channels. The system will also support Video-On-Demand, meaning that you can watch a variety of movies whenever you want to watch them.
The fiber network will support Whole-Home DVR (Digital-Video-Recorder) services. That means you will be able to record movies and shows today and watch them tomorrow or next week.
No. The signals over fiber-optic lines are not affected by lightning, dust, wind, cold, snow, or water. The system will be very stable during all weather conditions.
Yes. We will have both channels available.
Our goal is to manage your monthly bill by fighting against excessive Network fee increases from large, powerful media conglomerates. That’s why we are a member of the NCTC, a collective of more than 900 independent Local TV and Broadband providers across the United States. This allows us to negotiate as one larger group to gain the cost benefits that the larger Cable and Satellite TV providers enjoy, while still enabling us to provide home-town service to our customers.
Visit tvonmyside.com to learn more and stay up to date on the latest programming negotiation news.
No. There is plenty of bandwidth from one connection to accommodate a home based business. The box installed at your home will be able to handle multiple phone lines and television sets.
The fiber line that runs to your property has enough bandwidth to allow you to connect any out-buildings to the network. If you want to connect other buildings you will be allowed to do so.
A one-time equipment installation fee of $99.99 is applicable to RS Air installations in the following circumstances:
- If the required receiver is mounted to a structure other than your home.
- If you live in an area that is not a member of the RS Fiber Cooperative.
The following cities and townships are members of the RS Fiber Cooperative:
Cities: Gaylord, Winthrop, Lafayette, Gibbon, Fairfax, Buffalo Lake, Stewart, Brownton, New Auburn, and Green Isle
Townships in Sibley County: Henderson, Kelso, Sibley, Alfsborg, Severance, Moltke, Bismarck, Transit, Arlington, Faxon, Washington Lake, New Auburn, and Grafton
Townships in Renville County: Cairo, Camp, Bandon, and Wellington
The RS Air equipment installation fee is a one-time charge of $99.99. This fee includes installation of the receiver and RS Fiber Air provided equipment.