RS Fiber Cooperative Enters the Growth Phase

GAYLORD, MN — As the high-speed broadband project enters its third year, RS Fiber Cooperative (RS Fiber) customer growth has increased by 62 percent over the past year.

Phase One construction has been completed with the final four member communities being connected to the FTTH gigabit network in the first quarter of 2018. The company is now in the customer acquisition stage for all ten FTTH communities. To date, RS Fiber serves more than 30 percent of the homes and businesses in the ten communities and that number continues to grow at a steady rate each month.

Developing a Financial Model that Supports Growth
The customer acquisition phase moves RS Fiber Cooperative beyond the high risk of a start-up company in construction mode. This also means that the company financing will need to shift to a model that will support continued growth to not only to a positive cash flow but also to profitability as planned by 2021.

At a recent presentation to the Joint Powers Board, Shannon Sweeny of David Drown Associates, stated that the subordinated debt payments will not be made for the next two years and that the cities will need to make the GO bond payments. The subscriber growth on the network will determine when RS Fiber will be able to take back the payments from the cities. That determination will be looked at annually.

Planning for Continued Expansion
“RS Fiber was founded due to the lack of interest by existing companies to serve the towns and rural townships in our area," stated RS Fiber Board Chair Kevin Lauwagie. "Now that the first phase is complete and more than 2,000 residents have already benefited by the service, we know we’ve done the right thing and look forward to continuing with expansion of the service across our region.”

With the project now in its third year, RS Fiber continues its steady growth trend. The company now serves more than 2,000 homes and businesses and has increased revenue by 65 percent over the past 12 months.

RS Fiber Air, the fixed wireless solution for the 17 townships served in phase 1, continues to expand wireless broadband coverage to new areas of rural Renville and Sibley counties. Five additional towers have been added in the project area in 2018. These towers will continue to expand the reach of broadband services throughout the area.


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