May 25, 2024

Herman finally has a chance to get broadband

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BY NICK RIPPERGER

Herman Development Corporation

Recently, residents of Herman and the surrounding community served by  Frontier Communications received a letter from Runestone Telecom  explaining that the co-op hopes to expand its high-speed internet service to those who currently do not have it.

Runestone will be applying for a state grant for that purpose in the  near future and is looking for letters of support to demonstrate how important broadband service would be to the community.  The Herman Development Corporation strongly encourages those individuals and  businesses who would benefit by gaining access to high-speed internet to respond to Runestone’s request.

Letters from those who have been able to switch from Frontier to  Runestone contrasting the differences would be just as helpful, if not more so.

For decades Herman has been an island when it came to telephone, and later internet service.  A series of providers over the years have not considered their small Herman market worth much investment, and telecom giant Frontier is the latest example.

Other nearby communities have enjoyed fiber-optic broadband service for years, thanks to Runestone, based in Hoffman, and Federated, based in Chokio.  Frontier has not provided that same level of service to its customers and it is unlikely that it ever will.  If Runestone does not receive the grant, it is unlikely it will be able to, either, at least in the near future.

High-speed internet service is no longer a luxury.  More and more it is becoming a necessity to function successfully in 21st century business and society.  Herman businesses that rely on the outside world for goods, services, and information – that’s all of them – need reliable high-speed internet to communicate with it so they can bring those goods, services, and information to Herman-area residents.That became so obvious to a number of Herman businesses in recent years that they paid extra money to Runestone to hook up to its broadband when possible.

Fortunately, our school does have broadband through Runestone.  However, many of our students do not have it at home.  The COVID-19 pandemic has forced students and teachers to stay at home from time to time, where they have to rely on their internet service for “distance learning.”  If students can’t participate, they fall behind.  The school has even come to default to distance learning for snow days.  High-speed internet has become a vital component in today’s education model. 

On the individual level, people increasingly are needing high-speed internet to work from home, conduct business from home, or simply to participate in social media or watch movies.

For years, the Herman Development Corporation and the Herman-Norcross Booster Club have attempted to get broadband to Herman, knowing that communities that don’t get it are headed down a slow road to obsolescence.

Runestone has attempted to accommodate as much as it was able, hooking up to businesses and residences when financially feasible, and providing remote wireless service via transmitters on Herman’s water tower.  But wireless service does not compare to fiber-optic cable as far as speed, availability, and reliability.  If Runestone gets the grant, fiber-optic cable will be installed to every residence, farmhouse, and business that wants it.

Runestone has not done this yet because of the cost involved.  Getting this grant would change that.  It would pay for half the installation costs.  Runestone would pay 40 percent, with the remaining 10 percent coming from the county.  The Grant County board has already agreed to make the investment.

So it is vital that the Herman community support Runestone’s efforts.   It sent a postage-paid return envelope with its letter.  If you have misplaced it, the address is Runestone Telecom Association, PO Box 336, Hoffman, MN 56339.

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