Red River Communications - Fall 2017 Newsletter

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FALL 2017


General Manager’s Update


From Party Lines to Cutting Edge Connectivity PAGE 6

Your local telecommunications provider

What’s So Special About a Cooperative?


CELLULAR: Data Management 101



Red River Communications FALL 2017


It’s hard to believe that another summer has come and gone. This was the first summer in over a decade that our staff hasn’t had to contend with a major construction project. That is, of course, because we have largely completed our fiber-to-the-home project.


While some work remains, we couldn’t be prouder of the network that your Cooperative has. You’ve no doubt seen news of another company boasting about their gigabit project in Fargo. The fact remains that your Cooperative has been offering gigabit speeds for over 2 years, all while serving nearly 1500 square miles. This is even more impressive when you consider some areas within our Cooperative have less than one customer per mile of fiber. We should be proud that our communities and members have had access to broadband that others in bigger cities could only dream about. We’re truly in an enviable position. But just because construction is done our work is far from it. Work continues on making sure our network is robust, safe, and secure. These upgrades are necessary as technology continues to change, as do the expectations of our members. We do our best to perform these upgrades overnight and keep them as invisible to you as we can. We sincerely apologize in advance for any inconvenience that these upgrades may cause you. If you experience a prolonged loss of service, please contact us so that we can troubleshoot and, if necessary, dispatch a technician.



As a Cooperative, one of our core values is giving back to our communities. We are hosting a series of events through October which is national “Cooperative Month.” Please see the back cover of this newsletter to find an event near you. If there’s anything we can do better to serve you, please let me know. I want to personally thank you again for your membership and support.



Taking the sting out of a PHONE UPGRADE

Red River Communications FALL 2017

KIM BERSETH MEMBER SUPPORT SPECIALIST Cell phones keep getting more and more expensive. There are ways to ease the pocket book pain when you get your next phone. The latest trend to hit the major carriers is to offer device payment options. As a local provider, Red River Communications is thrilled to offer this same purchase option. Qualifying customers (new or existing) upgrade to a new device without a term commitment. During this time, the customer can elect an easy 6, 12 or 24-month payment plan for their new device.

Once the device is paid off, the contract is fulfilled and payment for the device drops off the monthly bill. You can continue your service with no additional charges per month or you can start the process all over with a new upgraded device. If you decide to take your service to another carrier before the device is paid off simply pay off the balance and take it with you to the new carrier. Call Red River Communications today to learn how you can get a new smartphone for less than $10.00 per month.

GOTTA HAVE GADGETS Getting a new cell phone is only half the fun. Trick out your phone with some must have accessories. Tempered Glass Screen Protector Screen protectors have come a long way and tempered glass offers the ultimate screen protection. Magnetic Car Mount Keep your phone within easy reach by adding a car mount to safely house your phone while driving. Car mounts come in many styles. VR Goggles Turn your smartphone into a virtual reality viewer and enjoy real 360° photos, videos and games. Great for smartphone users, gamers and techies. REDRIVERCOMM.COM

FIND MORE ON PINTEREST Visit us on Pinterest to see the apps we love, accessories we’ve gotta have and get the latest tips and tricks for your device.

At the NTCA Fall Conference in Philadelphia, PA, Red River Communications was recognized in front of telecommunications leaders as a top-performing broadband provider for work within its service area over the past decade. The designation, known as Smart Rural Community, recognizes rural broadband networks and their broadband-enabled applications that communities can leverage to foster innovative economic development, education, health care, government services, public safety and other vital public functions.

“Our application highlighted the work we’ve done both with our fiber network and our local partners,” noted Member Support Manager Dirk Monson. “We are privileged to be a partner with so many wonderful

people. This award is further validation of the hard work performed by our employees, communities, and local businesses. ” The award is notable in its distinction as it recognizes the communities that are served by Red River Communications. “This award is a show piece for the entire area we serve,” explained General Manager/CEO Jeff Olson. “The award allows communities to proudly boast that they are served by one of the most remarkable broadband connections in rural America. Such connectivity is absolutely crucial for education, healthcare, and economic development.” Commemorative road signs will be placed throughout portions of the service area later this fall announcing the designation of “Smart Rural Community.” For more about Smart Rural Community:


Less than 50 communities nationwide have earned the designation of Smart Rural Community.


Red River Communications FALL 2017



Red River Communications FALL 2017

From party lines to cutting-edge connectivity Red River Communications helps region move forward Before Red River Communications was formed in 1951, few people in the region could reach out to family and friends by phone. The few phone lines that did exist included about 10 families who could call each other and no one else. In contrast, today’s member-owned cooperative relies on a cutting-edge, fiber optic network to provide a range of modern digital services: broadband internet, television, phone and more. Simply, Red River Communications connected the region to the world. But while technology changed over the years, one mission remained consistent: The Cooperative strives to provide the best available communications services possible as a way to benefit the entire community.

Red River Communications now offers digital TV, FiberFAST internet, long-distance, and cell phone services. Today, Red River Communications continues its tradition of offering members the latest technology and the best in service. In 2004, the Cooperative began installing fiber lines that would allow more services and bandwidth than the existing copper lines. Now, Red River Communications offers broadband speeds of up to 1 Gbps. This service can keep pace even in homes where multiple people stream movies, play computer games and use multiple devices.

“We don’t look at ourselves as just being internet service providers or the phone company,” says Dirk Monson, Member Support Manager. “We’re trying to be a community partner to help do things that just wouldn’t be possible in a small town otherwise.” KEEPING PEOPLE CONNECTED The Cooperative built a communications infrastructure when municipal and commercial phone companies could not or would not — costs were too high for some and profits too low for others.


The Cooperative also grew with the times and the changing needs of its membership. In 1965, Red River’s Great Bend exchange was the first in the state to offer one-party phone service and allburied lines, beating out larger cities like Fargo, Bismarck and Grand Forks. The Kent, Minnesota exchange in 2005 became Red River Communications’ first all-fiber exchange.

“Everything we do has got the community that we serve at the forefront,” Monson says. “So, if it’s not a good decision for the community, we’re not going to do it. We’re forward-thinking in that every decision we make isn’t just good for today; it’s good for tomorrow. That way, our membership is protected against future technology changes and that the services they’ve depended on for 65 years are going to keep working and growing with the times.” THE COOPERATIVE DIFFERENCE To date, 1 Gbps service isn’t available in many much larger cities and towns across the country. But that’s one of the ways


Red River Communications FALL 2017

2017 FiberFAST Festival in Abercrombie cooperatives are different from commercial, for-profit corporations, Monson says. “Being a cooperative allows us to upgrade our service,” he says. “The dollars we make don’t go in anyone’s back pocket; they get put back into the network.” As a result, Red River Communications can provide big advancements to members, whether they’re a small business, a company sending data all over the world, or a telecommuter working from home. HELPING STUDENTS The faster network is also helping the community, Monson says. As local school systems add tablets and smartphones to classrooms, Wi-Fi speeds are increasingly important — especially when network connections are shared among multiple students and teachers.

The Cooperative’s outreach saves money for the schools and helps put students ahead of the technology curve, he says. “We are proud of the fact that we can help our schools get what they need as far as technology goes,” Monson says. “It puts our students far ahead of communities that might be 10, 20 or 50 times their size.” BUSINESS CLASS In addition to schools, Red River Communications also works with local economic development corporations and city councils to help increase the number of jobs and to support industry, Monson says. Companies need fast internet speeds and improved service to compete in today’s economy. They also need employees who understand that technology. Meeting those goals requires a team effort that includes other members of the community, Monson says.

Continued on Page 8


“We are working with some of our local schools right now to make sure they’ve got adequate Wi-Fi connectivity,” Monson says. “Some of the schools are going to a one-to-one initiative, where each student and each teacher has a technology device that receives curriculum and educational materials. Some schools don’t necessarily have the expertise in-house to do

that, so we’ve been partnering with some of our local school districts to get that up and running for them.”

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Red River Communications FALL 2017

About a year ago, the Cooperative rolled out a service, FiberFAST Wi-Fi, to help members understand and to gain confidence in using new technology. FiberFAST Wi-Fi offers members an in-home visit to optimize their Wi-Fi network. Whether a user spends most of their time on a tablet in the sunroom or in a garage workspace, technicians make sure the setup meets individual needs. “It’s another one of those ways that we are different from a big company,” Monson says. “As a co-op, we’re able to get a little bit more creative, and we can also take care of our friends and neighbors. We don’t just look at this from a

dollar-and-cents standpoint. We look at it from the standpoint of what’s going to make sense for them.” THE FUTURE Red River Communications’ service territory spans parts of North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota. And while the population in those areas will certainly grow, the Cooperative itself doesn’t have any immediate plans for expansion. “It’s one of those things that we’ll always keep an eye out for,” Monson says. “We’ll never stop looking for opportunities that make sense for our membership and for potential members down the road.”

COMMON CENTS UPDATE The Common Cents Board met in June and in September. The following donations were made: Lidgerwood Park Board $1,000 for new pool furniture Abercrombie Park, Museum, and Pavilion $1,500 for Pavilion Roofing Project Colfax Wold Softball Field $900 for new bases and umpire equipment Rollag Softball $1,000 to purchase a lawn mower Richland PTO $500 for Missoula children’s theater Marketplace for Kids $500 for education day events Richland Music Parents $1,500 for stage lighting and sound equipment

Our Common Cents program has awarded

$144,708.50 to area non-profits, community organizations and several individuals since its inception in 2008. NEXT MEETING December 6, 2017 @ 6 pm


TO APPLY FOR FUNDING Download an application at or contact our business office. Submitted applications are reviewed quarterly.

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Red River Communications WINTER 2017

DEMOCRATIC MEMBER CONTROL A cooperative is a democratic organization controlled by its members who are given opportunities to actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. Members contribute to the capital of their cooperative. This capital is used to operate the cooperative. A portion is returned back to the members in the form of capital credits, based on patronage (service).


For more information on what makes cooperatives work, visit


Red River Communications FALL 2017




instead of your home’s Wi-Fi internet service.

As more consumers are switching to smartphones, cellular carriers have realized the value is no longer in the air time used to make calls or send text messages but rather in the data used to connect devices to the internet.

Wi-Fi (like Red River’s FiberFAST WiFi) offers unlimited usage of the internet while cellular data limits your usage based on your plan. Any data used over the allowed amount is billed at $15 per gigabyte!

Now cellular plans (even the unlimited ones) cap your data usage. It’s more important than ever to manage your data usage to avoid overages and slow downs.

If you’re not careful with HOW your phone connects to the internet, you could see a giant cellular overage bill at the end of the month.

BUT, WHAT IS DATA? Simply put, data is the way your phone connects to the internet when it uses a cellular tower

Our process includes setting up your phone to reduce the amount of data used. We also help our customers understand how to manage their data usage.

You’ll receive free text message alerts when the data usage has exceeded 75%, 90% and when you go over your allowance. You can check your usage any time through our website. The data limits reset on the 17th of each month. If you feel your data usage will excede your allowed amount, simply call our office to request a plan upgrade. We will back date the new plan to the beginning of the bill cycle to cover your current data usage and prevent any overage charges.


Red River Communications FALL 2017

TIPS AND TRICKS USE WI-FI WHENEVER POSSIBLE Public places such as malls and restaurants often have free Wi-Fi. But be careful as these networks may not be secure. Only log in to sensitive information through a secure, password-protected network such as your home’s Wi-Fi network. CAREFUL - VIDEO CAN EAT YOUR DATA QUICKLY Funny cat videos on sites like YouTube use an enormous amount of data. If you decide to watch video content while connected to your data network, avoid streaming it in high definition (HD) to reduce the file size. Every device is different, but many have settings that can be tweaked to further reduce the amount of data it uses. The best way to learn how to tweak your device settings is to simply Google search it! A search for “how to reduce data usage for [your device name]” will give you a lot of tips for your specific device.



PO Box 136 510 Broadway Abercrombie, ND 58001

Fall 2017


BARNESVILLE Designs by Becky 354-7217 Ishaug, Bill & Ann 493-4381 McKay, Chris 493-4002 Stuvland, Corey & Dawn 493-4604 The 34 493-4422 Thorkildson, Blaine & Lynn 493-4385

LIDGERWOOD Duerr, Dennis 538-4128 Gaulder, Deb 538-4193

OCT 10

11:30am to 1pm

MOORETON Bozovsky, Matt & Shelia Hagen, Donna & Mel Juaire, Clinton & Louise

OCT 11

11:30am to 1pm

OCT 12

11:30am to 1pm

274-8837 274-8257 274-8274

COLFAX Biffert, Logan & Caitlin 372-3792 ROLLAG Jay, Christina 372-3739 Obermoller, A 937-5455 Voss, Marcie 937-5142 FAIRMOUNT Tretter, Jim & Emmy 474-5453 WYNDMERE Anderson, Dana 439-2722 HANKINSON Christensen, Rebecca 439-2450 Glynn, Daniel & Trudi 242-8313 Corn Store LLC 439-0037 Machinery Management Duncan, Shane 439-2505 Service 242-7038 Girodat, Andrew & Callie 439-2352 Fax Line 242-7039 Holm, Scott 439-2818 Perales, Michael A 439-0083


OCT ABERCROMBIE 14 8:30am to 11:00am





Monday-Friday 7:30am-4:30pm

Need assistance? We’re here 24/7 to help you!

Pay your bill without any added fees!

Closed Saturday and Sunday



Your local telecommunications provider

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