The Net Neutrality post from November generated some interest – thanks to everyone who is now following the blog!  I will admit that I have been procrastinating since then on what to talk about, hoping you won’t regret having clicked the “follow” button.

There is no lack of topics available, as usual we have a lot going on here at Mid-Rivers.  As you will read about in our upcoming print issue of the Community Connection, our 2018 Fiber Construction plans are being finalized.  Contracts have been approved for construction to about 500 locations in the Custer, Lavina, and North Ryegate exchanges; our own crew will be plowing fiber in the Lindsay and Bloomfield exchanges; and fiber contracts to another 500 locations in the Musselshell, Melstone, Savage, Grass Range, and Roy exchanges are under development.  Much of this is rural construction (rural by Eastern Montana standards) that will cover a long stretch of miles.  If you are in a rural area still waiting for fiber and don’t know yet where you sit on the Plan, please contact us or comment below with your service address and we’ll get you an approximate date.Viasat Logo

For those who still have a while to wait (come on, 2024!!), there is an upgraded satellite service we should be able to offer you very soon under the Viasat brand.  It is scheduled to launch February 28 in this region, and assuming successful tests, we will be releasing the new plans for sign up shortly thereafter.  The new plans are provided using a brand-new satellite launched last year and will offer faster 12 Mbps download speeds with no hard data caps (no “FAP,” for those of you who remember or still deal with that lovely policy).  After 40GB, 60GB, or 100GB of data usage (depending on the plan you choose), your traffic “may be prioritized behind others” depending on network congestion, but you should still be able to use the connection for basic needs, including low-resolution video streaming, after hitting your allowance.  That is a big improvement from the 10GB, 15GB and 20GB hard data caps on the Exede plans (no more “buy more” bills at $10 per GB).  Monthly rates will start at $69.99.  If you are interested in these new Viasat plans, please contact us or let us know in the comments section below.

We hear from customers on a daily basis about the importance of QUALITY Internet services to nearly everything they do, from homework to business to entertainment to health and wellness.  Not just any Internet, but Internet that is capable of HD-quality video streaming with “five nines” of reliability.  We will hit a new milestone this year in our region for the highest number of customers ever with access to this quality of revolutionary broadband technology.  Just think what more than 20,000 rural Montanans could do with mega-fast, super-reliable broadband.  The possibilities are endless.  Here’s my hope:  that we use it for GOOD THINGS.  Positive things.  Things that make our lives and the lives of others better.  Things that will encourage our youth to stay close to home and prosper.  Things that will keep our beloved parents and grandparents safe and allow them to stay in their homes longer.  Things that don’t make you want to un-follow all your social media contacts and go on a digital detox.

Everyone who has a broadband connection today has huge power.  With one social media post, you can impact the opinions of hundreds or thousands of others.  You can drive hundreds of new customers to a business, or drive them away.  You can make someone’s day, or ruin their life.

As the major social media platforms face more and more scrutiny, accused of being “swamps” of fake news, dividing the country, and artificially influencing everything from elections to the stock market, break loose from their influence and be a force for good.  Broadband doesn’t exist solely for Facebook, Twitter and Netflix.  Use it to start that business you’ve always dreamed about.  Use it to easily let your customers pay with a credit card and grow your business.  Use it to finish that college degree or plan that trip you’ve always wanted to take.  Research the numerous legitimate ways to make more money online.  Sign your kids up for 529 college savings plans.  Think of it as a wealth of free information on anything you’ve ever wanted to learn about.  Expand your mind and your horizons.  Learn how to make awesome cakes.  Take control of your health.

As the long Eastern and Central Montana winter drags on, use the time inside to do good online.  And we’ll use it to make sure we’re ready to put plows in the ground at the first sign of spring, so we can get more of you online to use your powers for good.

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