THANK YOU to the Marshall Independent for your commitment to covering rural Minnesota’s strengths and opportunities.
As reported by Jenny Kirk, Marshall Independent, on Dec 1st 2014:
GRANITE FALLS – Are you sick of fluctuating cable or satellite television rates that seem to continually be going up and up? If so, MVTV Wireless TV and Broadband Internet Provider could be the solution for you.
MVTV has been providing television services to rural Minnesotans since 1960 and wireless Internet services since 1999. Recently, the nonprofit, member-owned business has launched new digital television services.
According to President Dan Richter, MVTV embarked on a new TV improvement project, beginning in 2011. The first step involved upgrading the old analog UHF system to a new digital UHF system. After completing the process, MVTV was then able to broadcast several channels in high definition (HD). Throughout the process, MVTV has been working on adding more programming, along with value-added features such as DVR recording.
This past January, MVTV started the final stages of its TV transformation and released two new TV programming options this spring.
“It’s about a $1.4 million project that has allowed us to take seven of our channels and make 40,” Richter said. “That’s how we now have an encrypted system of 52 channels to offer to the public.”
The Basic service consists of 27 channels (six in HD), costing $22.95 plus tax per month. The Expanded service offers 52 channels (seven in HD) for $52.95 per month. The coverage area currently extends 30 miles or so from Granite Falls, where the tower is located.
“If you aren’t into sports or just want the networks, then it’s $22.95,” Richter said. “A lot of people don’t like wondering if their satellite bill will go up or down next year, so we feel we can fill a niche, with a cost of $52.95 versus maybe $90 or $100. In town, you have cable. People in town can still get our service, but basically, we’re a rural provider.”
While there is a one-time installation fee ($64.95) and membership fee ($50), MVTV services do not require a contract, which many customers appreciate.
“We’ve added about 75 to 100 new Internet customers a month for the last five months,” Richter said. “We’ll grow the digital television service, too. We have to pay our bills so we charge a fee, but whatever we get along the way, we keep investing and extending our reach. It’s a wonderful service.”
Like its service to rural customers, MVTV has grown since being founded 54 years ago in Granite Falls. Along with Richter, MVTV currently has 21 employees, including Pam Rosenau (marketing and customer service), Julie Foote (sales and marketing development) and a large number of technicians who help provide service to customers in southwest and central Minnesota.
“Our wireless Internet service covers 25,000 square miles,” Rosenau said. “Our office is in Granite Falls, but we have technicians who each have territories they cover. It’s for people without fiber, basically. It’s completely unlimited, and there are no contracts.”
According to Richter, keeping up with the customer demands since the Internet’s arrival in 1999 has been challenging but rewarding.
“We’ve made many, many improvements,” he said. “It’s been a real challenge to build a network to keep elevating programming for what people are using the Internet for. But we’ve always had the belief that we can do it. And we basically cover one-fourth of the state now. We enjoy having a big impact on southwest/west central Minnesota, whether it’s television or wireless service.”
MVTV has worked hard to offer those services at an affordable rate as well.
“Fiber is the best, but it’s also the most expensive,” Richter said. “It’s about $20,000 a mile and about $15,000 to bury. So wireless is a good solution. We’ve helped rural Minnesota get connected, whether it’s for a job, school, banking or entertainment. They’re all important. And it’s getting more affordable, too.”
Recently, Richter and Rosenau attended an event for people in the Marshall Public School district. Thanks to PCs for People, 150 households in the district received new computers. The eligible families were also offered discounted services from MVTV Wireless.
“We’ll send out a technician to see if you can get access,” Rosenau said. “It’s usually $56 a month, but we’re offering our service for $26 a month for as long as you want it.”
Richter, who has also been part of Gov. Mark Dayton’s Broadband task force since the mid-1990s, said he was thrilled to be part of the PCs for People event.
“It’s always good to get out and see what’s going on,” Richter said. “Senator (Paul) Wellstone always came here because he had a warm spot for out-state people. Now, Dayton helps facilitate the task force. We meet once a month. PCs for People are part of the solution, to help bridge the digital divide, so I’m looking forward to bringing the excitement of that event back to the task force. It’s a wonderful program.” – Jenny Kirk , Marshall Independent
MVTV Wireless Your Broadband Internet Service Provider ‘Connecting Rural Minnesota’