Prairie Business: How public-private partnerships are extending broadband access to rural areas

EXCERPT: “At the weekly Herreid Livestock Auction here, area ranchers no longer see as many cattle buyers checking out the cattle as the animals move through the ring. ‘We’ve still got 12, 15, 18 buyers there, but it’s not like it used to be,’ says Joe Vetter, auction co-manager. But the buyers really are there in a virtual sense. They’ve simply arrived via the fiber telecommunications routes of America instead of the Interstates and two-lane highways. Thanks to high-speed Internet, the buyers study video of the auction and buy cattle at every sale. ‘You never meet them. They bid online, and the cattle go wherever they’re at. They could be at their feedlots in Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma – anywhere, Vetter says. ‘Technology has changed the world.’ Including the rural-economy world, and the technology that has changed that world is broadband. Broadband means producers who had been used to doing business within a radius of 50 or 100 miles now can participate in a worldwide economy, said David Crothers, executive vice president of the Mandan, N.D.-based Broadband Association of North Dakota.” FULLSTORY: