That’s because there is a lot being said, and the word is out. People in southwestern Minnesota and across the state are talking about what’s happening at MVTV Wireless.
The Granite Falls Advocate Tribune was kind enough to grant us permission to reprint this wonderful article for our readers. Written by Kathy Velde, the article is a nice summary of MVTV Wireless this past year.
MVTV’s Progress and Successful Future Prospects
By Kathy Velde
Staff Writer, Granite Falls Advocate Tribune
Sustained growth is the best way to describe what’s been happening during 2009 at MVTV Wireless. Ruth Ann Karty, a Small Business Development Center (SBCD) counselor shared, “Every month I compare to the previous year and am astounded at the progress in just 12 months. The updated customer count showed a 23 percent increase from August 2008 to August 2009; nearly 600 new customers.”
“The MVTV Board of Directors has always been very supportive of the staff and management,” Dan Richter, president of MVTV pointed out. “As a small co-op we decided we could bring broadband wireless Internet service to an unserved and underserved rural area.”
The high speed broadband wireless internet service allows individuals, farmers and business to bank online, conduct business, watch movies, play games, work online, check the weather, access real-time grain prices, access marketing information, and provides instantaneous connections to family and friends around the globe.
“We have been adding 50 new subscribers each month for the past three years,” stated Richter. In the month of January alone 55 new subscribers came online with MVTV. “We have about 3-4 new installs a day, 5 days a week. And that’s in addition to upgrading current customers’ service and troubleshooting problems that come up.” explained Richter.
One upgrade that rural customers are taking advantage of is the ‘hop’; a point-to-point Internet connection that affords better usability to farmers and small independent businesses. A base Internet receiving antennae is installed that provides service to the home or main office and then a remote antennae ‘hops’ the signal to another building on site. “It’s great for farmers,” shared Suzie Richter, a customer service representative. “It really opens windows of opportunity for local farmers.”
MVTV has morphed into an entirely new business since it began transmitting television signals to homes in the Granite Falls area. Currently MVTV serves over 2500 Internet subscribers through a series of 57 repeater sites that provides service to 10,000 square miles of southwestern Minnesota.
Richter and the team at MVTV expect to see that customer base explode over the next year due largely in part to a stimulus grant they hope to receive. The grant would make $1.4 million federal stimulus dollars available to MVTV to add more towers to serve an additional 34 south central and southwestern Minnesota communities. The plan includes several project areas: The project area to the west will provide internet service west of Canby and north to Madison. The northwest project area will provide service from the Clontarf area up to the Morris area. The northeast project will provide service northeast of Willmar to include the Sunburg area. The grant funds would allow the service to be extended from Redwood Falls to Comfrey and then west to Lamberton where it will intersect with a tower in Windom that is currently owned by MVTV but inactive at this time.
Key to success
“From the beginning the key to the success at MVTV has been our customer service. Every member of the team is contributing to our success,” shared Richter. “It’s exciting to work with cutting edge technology. It’s very rewarding for all involved to bring such a needed service to the area.”
MVTV outsourced their installations from 1999 to July 1, 2008. As of 2008 all the work at MVTV has been done in-house. Including Dan Richter, the company has eight employees: Customer Service Representatives Kristin Noble and Suzie Richter, Network Admin-istrator Greg Radtke and Network Technicians Luke Richter, Wayne Tilbury, and Jason Buss.
“We’ve got five trucks now. One for each of the technicians and one that we keep in reserve,” shared Richter.
An enhancement of an online ticketing and scheduling program has made it quicker and easier to connect to the network technicians in the field. “All the techs have smart phones so I can send real-time repair and installation requests to them. It’s an instant connection and they can log on from any location to check messages,” shared Suzie Richter. “Our customers love it.”
After encountering a problem with their service Randy and Becky Anderson from Minneota sent this short note to the team at MVTV, “Thanks for coming out so quickly when we had trouble with our service…we appreciate it very much.”
In addition to the online ticketing and scheduling enhancements, MVTV has upgraded their website mvtvwireless.com and is in the process of implementing a new, more convenient customer billing system.