Indianola Municipal Utilities (IMU) of Indianola, Iowa has announced that it will start offering its own municipal fiber system starting on October 1. The network will be offered at a higher speed and lower price point than other service providers in the area, and will go by the name Mahaska Communication Group. In Minnesota, the Blandin Foundation announced $2.4 million in grants to support improvements including increased broadband access throughout rural Minnesota.
According to IMU, the retail network is part of the broader statewide anchor institutions network – BroadNet Connect which provides high-speed voice and data access for the Iowa Health Systems, schools, state and local offices, and law enforcement. Mahaska subscribers will be able to buy ala carte or bundled services just as they can through any other retail provider.
Residential bundles are however offered including faster access and better prices. Residential consumers can choose from three speed tiers 25/25, 50/50 or 100/100mbps topping out at $50 per month without a bundle or $99.99 with a bundle. This is compared to brand name providers like Comcast in which the slowest access is offered at the $50/99.99 price points.
Mahaska also provides similar retail services in other cities in Iowa, although they haven’t yet announced increased high-speed for all areas.
In Minnesota, The Blandin Foundation, which supports community and economic development throughout rural Minnesota, and specifically Grand Rapids announced that it will award up to $1.5 million in grants through a new program to expand rural broadband access. The grants come as a result of the successful completion of a federally funded pilot program that Benton County recently completed.
The Blandin Foundation is the administrator for the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities project which seeks to show the benefits of providing increased broadband access in communities. More details of the project are available at bentoncountyconnected.org.
Rural networks are getting more support throughout Minnesota, Monticello recently brought in Gigabit Squared a private company that helps municipal broadband networks perform better after the city faced lags in service and no immediate support from larger providers.