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AppRising delivers insight into new broadband applications, exploring their impact on networks and their implications for public policy.

AppRising is written by Geoff Daily, who covers broadband applications and the business of online video. Based in Washington, DC, Geoff regularly advises applications developers, network operators, community leaders, and public officials on how to maximize adoption and use of the Internet.

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August 30, 2007 10:43 AM

Visiting Hiawatha Broadband Company: A Great Success Story for the Business of Deploying Fiber

I’m back in my home state of Minnesota and had the great fortune yesterday of taking a mini-roadtrip to visit with Gary Evans and Dan Pecorina of Hiawatha Broadband Company in the southeast corner of the state.

HBC deployed an advanced HFC network in Winona in the late 90s, and have since built FTTH in Wabasha, a community of 2500. They’re currently working on completing three more FTTH networks in their area.

While this is far from my first encounter with them, it was my first opportunity to understand the full scope of their business, and I couldn’t help but come away impressed by their entrepreneurial spirit.

To start, as I mentioned, HBC’s building out its own fiber network based on the successes they’ve realized in Wabasha.

They’re also working as consultants/contractors with municipalities who want to deploy their own network.

They offer wholesale services, especially TV, that ride other companies’ networks.

They provide co-lo services to a number of companies, including other ISPs and fiber providers.

They’ve initiated a vertically integrated advertising unit, which produces commercials, sells airtime, and delivers it into local TV streams.

They also use their video production capabilities to create local news and special interest programming.

They’ve got a full production van, which allows them to setup on site, especially at local sporting events, and provide live coverage. Because of this tech, they’ve had the opportunity to produce events that have appeared on ESPN.

And if this all weren’t enough, they’re preparing to launch a mobile phone product, which includes them partnering with T-Mobile and AT&T;, as well as deploying additional towers across their community to get read of any deadspots in coverage.

All of this, and how many customers do you think they have? Would you believe 10,000? I almost couldn’t.

It’s mind-boggling how a small company in southeastern Minnesota can support such a multi-faceted, dynamic business, but support they do as they’re proudly profitable.

I’m willing to admit America has some significant issues regarding the deployment and operation of broadband, but as I’ve written previously, there are examples of what’s right with broadband in this country and I believe HBC is a poster child for the successes that are being realized through the deployment of fiber.


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