by Mike Knaak
A significant speed upgrade to Midco’s St. Joseph service announced Oct. 8 will mean faster, more reliable internet for residents and businesses. Higher-speed service will spur innovation, economic development and education, company leaders said.
Midco announced a $2.1 million technology and facility investment that opens the way for the gigabit internet service.
The new technology provides up to 35 times faster than average internet service, according to the company.
From Midco’s St. Joseph facility, the gigabit service branches out to 15 other Central Minnesota cities.
Finding ways to provide high-speed internet for small cities and rural areas is a big issue for government and the event attracted a number of local, state and national officials.
St. Joseph Mayor Rick Shultz said the faster service should help the city attract start-up, high-tech businesses as well as residents who need fast, reliable internet to work from home.
Rep. Tom Emmer, a member of the House of Representatives Rural Broadband Caucus, said that high-speed internet is a key infrastructure investment that will allow people to continue to live outside of big cities but still have access to jobs and services.
Branded as Midco Gig, the fastest service offered is 10 times as fast as the current service available.
Midco serves 32 percent of potential customers in St. Joseph.
For new customers, Midco is offering 1 gigabit service for $79.95 a month for one year and then the price increases to $99.95. Current customers who have 100-megabit service can upgrade to the gig service for an additional $40 per month. Customers can also lease a modem for $8 per month in addition to the monthly service charge.
Midco is also offering a 500 Mbps service aimed at college students for $59.95 for one year and then the price increases $20 per month.
For the past year or so, Schultz has advocated using the internet to improve residents’ access to city services and improve the efficiency of city government. Having gigabit internet available fits with that initiative, he said.
People use smartphones and other devices to shop, work and learn, and city government, he said, should offer the same digital options.
With the St. Joseph upgrade, 90 percent of Midco’s Minnesota customers have gig service, according to Jon Pederson, Midco’s chief technology officer.
About 90 percent of Midco’s network distance is fiber optic, with coaxial cable connecting to individual customers.
Midco recently purchased a wireless company what will allow it to offer high-speed internet to rural areas that are within 30 miles of its fiber lines, Pederson said.
Gig-speed internet is shorthand for broadband service with up to gigabit-per-second download speeds. It’s been around for only a few years and is not widely available outside of big cities, but it’s the future of internet connectivity. Streaming services such as Netflix, gaming and running smart home devices all require faster connections that can move more data.
Compared with standard cable-based broadband packages, which offer download speeds of 20 to 100 Mbps, gigabit speeds are an exponential increase – 1,000 Mbps, or 1 million bits per second.
Midco, headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, serves more than 385,000 customers in 400 communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas and Wisconsin. Midco offers internet, cable television and telephone service.
The other Central Minnesota cities branching off from the St. Joseph equipment are: Annandale, Avon, Becker, Clear Lake, Clearwater, Cold Spring, Foley, Holdingford, Pierz, Richmond, Rockville, Royalton, St. Augusta, St. Stephen and Waite Park.