Being ahead of the curve was the motivation for bringing gigabit fiber to 140+ schools and libraries in northwest Minnesota indicates Brian Crommett Sales and Service manager for 702 Communications. In the above interview, Crommett describes a consortium of independent telcos, Northwest Minnesota Special Access (NMSA), that have partnered to create a 2,500+ mile fiber network with 256 Gb capacity serving over 20k square miles and 250,000 students and citizens. 97% of the connections are fiber-fed, capable of up to ten gigabits and interconnects with Internet2.
The NMSA is a partnership of 18 independent telecom companies, managed by 702 Communications, that have a contract with a similar consortium of school districts and libraries, NWLINKS. It is this federation of independent operators that makes this network unique as each operator is the local touchpoint for given school districts and libraries. At the same time, Crommett points out that, because there is centralized reporting of trouble tickets, the members are able to see common issues and determine best practices at their regular meetings.
Crommett explains that the current network evolved over time and builds on a long-term relationship between NMSA and NWLINKS. It is the bottoms-up approach of NMSA, where the local provider is on the frontline, that prevents northwest Minnesota from having a so-called, digital divide.