Red River Communications - Winter 2020 Newsletter

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Your FiberFASTTM Internet Cooperative


From the General Manager


How Netflix Gets to Your Home


Over $11,000 In Scholarships Available


Upcoming Annual Meeting



Red River Communications WINTER 2020

Winter 2020 Edition Volume 4, Issue 4 The Red River Communications newsletter is published quarterly for our members. It is distributed free-of-charge to our members in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Dave Gauslow President District 1 - Abercrombie Ronald German Vice-President District 8 - Fairmount/Hankinson Gary Boutiette Secretary/Treasurer District 5 - Kent Wayne Schindler District 2 - Barnesville Rhonda Erbes District 3 - Colfax Harlan Deike District 4 - Great Bend Neil Klosterman District 6 - Mooreton Thomas Bjorndahl District 7 - Rollag Ione Eckre District 9 - Lidgerwood/Wyndmere

Red River Rural Telephone Assoc. 510 Broadway, PO Box 136 Abercrombie, ND 58001 REDRIVERCOMM.COM Produced by the staff of Red River Communications Cover Photo: Ryan Wallock, Matt Kruize, and David Rystad demonstrate fiber at Hankinson School’s Career Day.

From the General Manager Since 1951, Red River Communications has been serving its members with quality communications services. Back then we were known as Red River Rural Telephone Association. Our goal was to provide reliable telephone services to its members. That was 68 years ago and today the member driven focus has not Jeff Olson changed. Its imprinted on our General Manager/CEO conference room wall for all employees and directors to see: Community Partner, Customer Driven, Technology Leader. We take pride in providing the most advanced services over the most advanced fiber optic network to the member-owners of Red River Communications. As we enter a new decade, most of us probably look back at the past 10 years. I’m always amazed at the speed technology changes. We all know that a device we buy today is all but obsolete tomorrow due to the rapid pace of technology. I look back at the past 10 years with pride and appreciation for the employees that worked so diligently in learning a new skillset to put this new network to work for you in the form of reliable high speed internet, Wi-Fi service, and digital TV services. In most cases these new skills were learned and mastered through training seminars and on-the-fly in their day-to-day work. We focus on what your cooperative needs to do to make your life better. We are committed to delivering the same quality services whether you live a block away from our office or 20 miles out of town. Our commitment to the communities we serve is shown through continued investment of money and time. Unlike other service providers, you see us at your community events, school functions, fairs, and parades. Our employees serve our local fire departments, first responders, school boards, city councils, as coaches, and on numerous committees for the benefit of their communities. Our focus is on our members and the communities we call home, not solely on the bottom line. This is what separates us from larger, investor-owned companies. I wish you all the very best in the new decade. Red River Communications looks forward to being your technology partner in the next decade and for many years beyond.


Red River Communications WINTER 2020

Common Cents For the Common Good

The Common Cents Board met in December 2019 and awarded a total of $5,000 to the following:

Applications Due

BIO Girls: Abercrombie $1,000 for curriculum materials

Lidgerwood Childcare $1,000 for a dishwasher


Hankinson Fire Protection District $2,500 towards a new water truck

One individual $500 for medical need


Common Cents is funded by our members and customers who choose to round up their bill to the next dollar.

$176,946.50 Donated since 2008

For more info, visit

Ione Eckre Retires from Board

Lidgerwood/Wyndmere Exchange Director served for 15 Years Ione Eckre has been representing the members of District 9 for 15 years. Ione was appointed director of the newly formed Lidgerwood/Wyndmere exchange on December 16, 2005 after the board created 2 new districts to bring the patrons of Lidgerwood, Wyndmere, Hankinson, and Fairmount into the Cooperative.

“This is the best group of people I’ve had the privilege to work

Dave Gauslow, president of the Cooperative, has nothing but kind words for Ione. “Ione has been a great board member, always engaged and a great contributor. She has served the cooperative well, and we will miss her in the board room.” “Since the first board meeting she attended, Ione has brought a feisty spirit to the board. We were never left wondering what Ione was thinking. Her enthusiasm will be missed in our meetings” said CEO Jeff

Ione Eckre Olson. All of us at Red River Communications will miss Ione’s insight and spirit and we wish her well in retirement.


Since that time, Ione has been a valuable member of the board, bringing in her years of experience in teaching (science/ biology) and working with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to the board room.

with. I’m going to miss being a part of the board”, stated Eckre.


Red River Communications WINTER 2020

It’s that time of year again: temperatures are falling, snow is falling, and all you want to do on a Friday night is curl up on the couch with a blanket, a bowl of popcorn, and a marathon of your favorite TV show. Thanks to Netflix, accessing all 234 episodes of Friends is now as easy as pressing play—but have you ever wondered how all that content gets to your home? Netflix’s United States library alone holds more than 6,000 titles, and delivering this much content across the country depends on a reliable, high-speed internet connection. If you live in North Dakota, chances are the show or movie you are currently watching was brought to you by one of the 14 broadband providers that are owners of Dakota Carrier Network (DCN) and members of the Broadband Association of North Dakota (BAND). From the server to your screen, here’s how Netflix arrives in North Dakota homes. CREATING A GLOBAL NETWORK Netflix has evolved from a subscription-based DVD-by-mail service into the most influential video streaming service in the world, with the number of global subscribers increasing from just

4 million in 2005 to nearly 150 million in 2019. In order to keep up with its rapidly growing viewer base, Netflix has had to make drastic changes to the way it operates. In the early years of its streaming services, Netflix owned and operated all of its own servers—but these servers simply could not keep up with the breakneck speed at which demand was growing. In order to deliver more content at faster speeds and lower costs, Netflix launched a content delivery network (CDN) called Open Connect in 2011. A CDN takes content from an original source and copies it onto servers located all over the world. To establish this network, Netflix has reached out to internet service providers around the globe and provided them with Open Connect appliances to install in their data centers. As more households complement their traditional TV viewing with streaming services, the decision to partner with Netflix on the Open Connect Network reflects DCN’s ongoing commitment to evolve along with the needs of North Dakotans.

Red River Communications is a proud member of BAND - The Broadband Association of North Dakota


NETFLIX IN NORTH DAKOTA Netflix has Open Connect appliances in close to 1,000 locations around the world—in cities as large as New York, London, and Tokyo, as remote as the Amazon rainforest, and right here in North Dakota. “Netflix reached out to DCN in 2014, when they noticed that the majority of subscribers in North Dakota were coming to Netflix through the DCN network,” said Seth Arndorfer, CEO of DCN. “As a result of that, we have worked with Netflix to place a copy of the entire Netflix library in DCN’s data center in Bismarck as well as in Fargo.” Before Open Connect, when you selected a movie from Netflix on your television in North Dakota, the app would need to request that content from Netflix’s main server in Chicago. “Think of it as a highway system, and the amount of time that it would take to get from Hettinger, North Dakota to Chicago,” Seth said. “Then, factor in the amount of traffic you would have to compete with to get there.” On the information superhighway that is the internet, the farther away a piece of content is located, the more traffic you must compete with to reach it and the longer it will take to load—a phenomenon known as latency. When it comes to streaming, latency means more buffering, low video quality, and a subpar experience for the viewer.

Red River Communications is an owner of DCN.

Now, instead of travelling all the way to Chicago and back, your request is sent across the state to the Open Connect box in either DCN’s Fargo or Bismarck data centers. From there, the content travels along NCC’s fiber and appears on your screen within milliseconds. As more households complement their traditional TV viewing with streaming services, the decision to partner with Netflix on the “Netflix reached out to DCN in 2014, when they noticed that the majority of subscribers in North Dakota were coming to Netflix through the DCN network. As a result of that, we have worked with Netflix to place a copy of the entire Netflix library in DCN’s data center in Bismarck as well as in Fargo.” Open Connect Network reflects DCN’s ongoing commitment to evolve along with the needs of North Dakotans. “That’s really what DCN does,” Seth said. “We make investments in North Dakota that are highly technical and complex, but for an end user, it simplifies their life.” Through this relationship with Netflix, the owners of DCN–North Dakota’s rural broadband service providers–and BAND members are able to deliver content to North Dakota homes at a higher quality and faster speed than ever before, so you don’t have to wait for your next episode of Friends to start. Interested in getting the best streaming quality possible? Contact us today to upgrade your FiberFAST internet connection.


We’re unique in that there is a Netflix Open Connect appliance in Abercrombie in addition to the ones in Fargo and Bismarck. That means that our members are especially connected to Netflix.

“Latency is a very important term in our industry. We want to have low latency in all applications,” Seth said. “That’s why we work with Netflix and other content providers to get the content as close to the customer’s eyes as possible, so that the end user experience is as simultaneous as possible.”

Red River Communications WINTER 2020

These small, rack-mountable boxes contain the Netflix content library, downloaded from the original Netflix servers. Now, every time you log in to Netflix, the app scans for a nearby Open Connect box. The content you request will be delivered by the Open Connect box nearest you, so your movie or episode can play at the push of a button.


Red River Communications WINTER 2020

Red River Communications offering over

$11,000 in scholarships NORTH DAKOTA AND MINNESOTA CO-OP SCHOLARSHIPS Two $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to graduating seniors at each of the following schools: Barnesville, Breckenridge and Hawley. Students at those schools should apply through their local scholarship organization. NEW THIS YEAR – a $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to a graduating senior at each of the following schools: Fairmount, Hankinson, Lidgerwood, Richland 44, Wahpeton and Wyndmere. For both ND and MN scholarships, an applicant’s parent or guardian must have telephone and/or fiber Internet service from Red River Communications cooperative, the student must be planning to attend a post-secondary college, tech school or similar program, have a minimum GPA of 2.5, and return the completed application to their school’s scholarship organization. Check with your local scholarship organization for the application deadlines. Hankinson, Richland 44 and Wahpeton students should apply through their local Dollars for Scholars chapter. Check the chapter’s application deadline. Fairmount, Lidgerwood and Wyndmere students can get an application at Application deadline is March 1, 2020. Scholarships will be awarded in the spring and students will receive scholarship funds after successful completion of the first semester of post-secondary education.

FOUNDATION FOR RURAL SERVICE (FRS) SCHOLARSHIPS The Foundation for Rural Service is offering six $2,500 scholarships nationwide plus a number of other scholarships through one application process. Applicant’s parent or guardian must have telephone and/or Internet service with Red River Communications to be eligible. This year the application process is entirely online at Be sure to read all the instructions to be sure you are eligible and have all materials necessary to upload to complete your application. Applicants need to select Red River Rural Telephone Association as their “employer” when setting up their account. Applications are due March 6, 2020.

MTA FOUNDATION OFFERING 10 DIFFERENT SCHOLARSHIPS This year the MTA Foundation (Minnesota Telecom Association) will award 10 scholarships to high school seniors graduating in 2020. Each scholarship will be a one-time amount of either $2,000 or $1,000. There are three types of scholarships: One $2,000 Telecom Scholarship: To be eligible, applicants must be majoring in either Telecommunications or Information Technology (IT) at a university, college, or technical college and be a Minnesota resident. REDRIVERCOMM.COM

One of four $1,000 Scholarships, provided by the MTA Network and Plant Operations Peer Group: To be eligible, applicants must be majoring in either Telecommunications or Information Technology (IT) at a university, college, or technical college and be a Minnesota resident. One of five $2,000 General Scholarships: To be eligible, applicants must be attending post-secondary education at a university, college, or technical college, be a Minnesota resident, and the applicant’s family must subscribe to either telephone or Internet service from Red River Communications. The scholarship application is online at Completed applications must be submitted to Red River Communications by February 21, 2020.


Red River Communications WINTER 2020 REDRIVERCOMM.COM

Visit for applications and more information.


Red River Communications WINTER 2020

TECH REVIEW: OCULUS GO Escape the winter blues with immersive virtual reality goggles DIRK MONSON Member Support Manager It might still be winter time, but the beach is only an app away. I’m not talking about a travel app to book your plane tickets, either. Thanks to technology like the Oculus Go and a high-speed internet connection, you can be transported to an adventure anywhere on Earth with the tap of an app. WHAT IS THE OCULUS GO The Oculus Go is a virtual reality (VR) headset. It uses technology very similar to what you find in a smart phone. Unlike other headsets like the Oculus Rift, the Oculus Go requires no computer to use. The headset itself contains a pair of high-definition screens and speakers that fully immerse you into wherever you might find yourself. WHAT CAN YOU DO Many big names have

published apps for the Oculus Go including YouTube and Netflix. YouTube’s app is particularly of note. In addition to the YouTube videos you expect to see, there’s a dedicated section to VR videos. I found myself virtually strolling a beach in Australia all while it was -20°F outside my door. I was only a space heater and a fan away from convincing myself that I was truly there. Okay, it might not be quite that good but it was still quite fun! The Oculus Go has plenty of games, too, allowing you to fly an ultralight, take on a band of space pirates, or simply go fishing. The Oculus Go can also be used to watch movies from streaming providers like Netflix and Amazon Prime. It’s like having your own big screen. OUR VERDICT The virtual reality arena is poised for many exciting

developments in 2020. It’s quickly moving past the novelty stage and into something that is actually fun. While there are headsets of higher quality than the Oculus Go, none can compete with the price. The Oculus Go is perfect for somebody who wants to experience virtual reality without making a huge investment. As of January 2020, the Oculus Go is priced at a very attractive $149. It’s available at many bigbox electronic stores and online from major retailers. We will have an Oculus Go available for demo at our annual meeting (page 10).


This free app has thousands of videos that let you experience almost any place you can imagine. COST: Free



If you’ve ever wanted to fly, this is the game for you. Pilot a variety of aircraft including a rocket glider on an island paradise. COST: $9.99

Oculus Go and controller


This information is provided in compliance with FCC Order 15-98.

BACKUP POWER FOR VOICE TELEPHONE SERVICES DURING POWER OUTAGES Your voice telephone service is provided using state-of-the-art fiber optics which requires backup battery power to continue functioning during a power outage. To maintain the ability to connect to 911 emergency services and to avoid a disruption of home voice service during an outage, we provide a battery for the backup power for your home voice telephone service at the time of the initial installation at no additional cost. This same battery is also provided to business customers although it generally does not provide enough power to run multiple lines or a business telephone system. WHAT YOUR BATTERY CAN (AND CAN’T) DO FOR YOU

Our backup battery does not provide power to any services other than voice. Digital TV and Internet services will not function

REPLACEMENT OPTIONS A backup battery has been provided by Red River Communications during the initial fiber installation. The backup battery is the property of Red River Communications and may need to be replaced every five to seven years or when the battery is no longer functioning. It is not possible for a customer to test the battery. We will provide and install at no cost to you a replacement backup battery, upon appointment, when it becomes known that the battery needs to be replaced. If you have any questions, please call 553-8309 or email EXPECTED BACKUP POWER DURATION Backup batteries are expected to last up to 8 hours on standby power. The existing backup battery should give you at least 6 hours of talk time, however, other factors may affect the battery so this is not guaranteed. If you feel you need additional talk time, you may purchase a 24-hour extended life backup battery from our company. An extended life battery costs $235 plus an approximate installation cost of $180. Call our office at 701-553-8309 or email for details.


The backup battery for your telephone service provided by Red River Communications allows you to continue to use your home voice services during a power outage. Without a backup battery, or alternate backup source such as a generator, customers with fiber-based telephone service will not be able to make any calls, including emergency calls to 911. The only way to maintain the ability to use your telephone is by using some form of backup power like the battery we provide.

on the backup battery. Home security systems, medical monitoring devices and other equipment typically will not run on a residential voice telephone backup battery.

Red River Communications WINTER 2020


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Annual Meeting NOTICE You are invited to attend our 68th Annual Meeting on Thursday, March 19!


A free meal will be served from 5:00pm to 6:30pm. The business meeting will follow at 7:00pm.

Richland 44 Elementary School 106 Broadway Abercrombie, North Dakota

We will have drawings for prizes throughout the evening as well as technology demonstrations. Our entire staff will be on hand to answer any questions you might have about your service. All members and their families are welcome to attend. No RSVP is needed.

PARKING Parking is available on the east side of the school as well the street immediately in front of the school building.

INTERESTED IN BEING A DIRECTOR OF THE CO-OP? Anyone interested in being nominated for the Red River Rural Telephone Association (dba Red River Communications) board can collect signatures on a petition and turn in the completed form by February 18, 2020. Districts electing directors this year are District 2 – Barnesville, District 5 – Kent and District 9 – Lidgerwood and Wyndmere.


Criteria for nominees: • Be a member of the exchange they would represent • Lives in the exchange they would represent and have lived there for at least 90 days in the last 12 months • Not a current or past employee • No financial conflict of interest in other ventures • Not convicted of a federal or state crime • Not closely related to a Board member or current employee • Be willing to attend monthly, state and national meetings as required Contact our business office to obtain a petition or for more information.

Now you can get FiberFAST internet without a phone line.




Think of it like an all-youcan-eat buffet. Stream until you run out of things to watch, not data.

With speeds up to a gigabit, we have you covered for gaming, streaming or shopping.

That’s right - there’s no phone line needed to get the area’s fastest fiber internet service.



Visit or call 701-553-8309 for more information

PO Box 136 510 Broadway Abercrombie, ND 58001







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