Co-Alliance to work with Microsoft, Land O’ Lakes, and Watch Communications on broadband connectivity project that will benefit Scircleville, Indiana and the surrounding area
Oct 30, 2020
Not only is broadband increasingly critical to daily life, it also enables precision agriculture, increasing yields, improving productivity, and boosting profits. Yet, according to the Federal Communications Commission, more than 18 million Americans do not have access to broadband, including nearly a quarter of Americans living in rural areas. Additionally, 60 percent of farmers say they lack the connectivity needed to run their business. This effort by Co-Alliance, Watch Communications, Microsoft and Land O’ Lakes aims to address these gaps.
This project is part of ongoing efforts by Land O’ Lakes, Microsoft, and Watch Communications to eliminate the rural broadband gap across the United States. Co-Alliance is part of the Land O’ Lakes member network, and Watch Communications is a Microsoft Airband Initiative partner. Through its Airband Initiative, Microsoft aims to extend broadband access to 3 million people who reside in unserved or underserved rural areas in the United States by partnering with internet service providers and others. Similarly, Land O’Lakes and its cooperative network are helping to bridge the digital divide with awareness and advocacy through its American Connection Project. Watch Communications is partnering with Microsoft Airband to provide broadband-speed Internet to rural communities in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and Ohio, including working with rural electric cooperatives and agricultural organizations. Land O’ Lakes, Microsoft, and Watch Communications plan to implement similar pilots across the Heartland, leveraging Land O’ Lakes’ member network and Microsoft’s Airband partners.
"Broadband technology is vital to the future of rural areas and the agriculture industry. By installing this valuable technology at our facilities, Co-Alliance is able to fill its cooperative mission to lead with technology and give back to our communities,” said Co-Alliance President and CEO, Kevin Still.
"We're so excited to be partnering with these organizations to bring real solutions for the lack of broadband access in this community,” said Teddy Bekele, Chief Technology Officer at Land O’Lakes. “As a farmer-owned co-op with deep roots across rural America, Land O'Lakes will continue to raise awareness and devise more ways to increase access to digital connectivity for all Americans."
“One’s zip code should not be a barrier to accessing broadband internet, nor the opportunity it provides,” said Shelley McKinley, vice president of Technology and Corporate Responsibility at Microsoft. “Through partnerships like these, we can help ensure communities are not left behind, and instead help them adopt new technologies and thrive in the 21st century economy.
“Expanding Internet to rural communities is the primary focus for Watch Communications,” said Greg Jarman, Chief Development Officer for Watch Communications. “This partnership to provide broadband internet at Co-Alliance's Scircleville facility will not just improve speed, but will expand access for residents and business owners to the connected world. Closing the digital divide is critical for education, business, and quality of life. Watch Communications is pleased to be part of this effort to improve internet to rural communities.”
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Co-Alliance, LLP is a 100% farmer-owned partnership of cooperative businesses. The company delivers agronomy, seed, animal health and nutrition, grain marketing services, power fuel and home heat energy products to local farms, businesses and families through branch outlets in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Michigan.
About Watch Communications
Founded in 1992, Watch Communications is an Internet Service Provider (ISP) using a combination of fixed wireless and fiber technologies to serve residential and business customers throughout Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky. Watch Communications began as a wireless cable TV provider and expanded service offerings in 1998 to include the Internet. Since its creation, Watch Communications has focused on unserved and underserved small and rural markets. Watch Communications is a subsidiary of Benton Ridge Telephone. The Benton Ridge family of companies also includes Community Fiber Solutions in Indiana and Q Wireless in Kentucky and Indiana.
About Microsoft Airband
Microsoft’s Airband Initiative is an effort to close the broadband gap and help communities use new connectivity to improve education, health care, and agriculture, and transform their businesses. The Airband Initiative works with the private and public sectors to invest in new technologies, accelerate broadband deployment, and support policy changes with the goal of bringing broadband access to millions of people in the United States. More information can be found at aka.ms/airband
About Land O'Lakes, Inc.
Land O'Lakes, Inc., one of America's premier agribusiness and food companies, is a member-owned cooperative with industry-leading operations that span the spectrum from agricultural production to consumer foods. With 2019 annual sales of $14 billion, Land O'Lakes is one of the nation's largest cooperatives, ranking 212 on the Fortune 500. Building on a legacy of more than 99 years of operation, Land O'Lakes today operates some of the most respected brands and businesses in agriculture and food production including Land O’Lakes Dairy Foods, Purina Animal Nutrition, WinField United and Truterra, LLC. The company does business in all 50 states and more than 60 countries. Land O'Lakes, Inc. corporate headquarters are located in Arden Hills, Minn.
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