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Federated Rural Electric buying Back 40 Wireless

Federated Rural Electric’s Board of Directors approved the acquisition of Back 40 Wireless on Nov. 30.

Back 40 Wireless is a reputable wireless internet company doing business from its location in downtown Jackson. Back 40 Wireless is currently owned by Troy Rasmussen. The transfer of ownership to Federated will take place on Dec. 31, with a formal closing on Jan. 7. The business name will change to Federated Broadband at that time.

Back 40 Wireless provides high quality, reliable rural internet service to Jackson, Cottonwood, Nobles, Martin, Murray and Brown counties in Minnesota, as well as Osceola, Dickinson and Emmet counties in Iowa.

“The new business plans include maintaining their great level of service, while expanding our services to reach the entire Federated service area and beyond if requested,” stated Scott Reimer, Federated’s general manager. “Federated Broadband will operate independently from the electric utility operations, as a self-sustaining business. It will be important for Federated to maintain the good Back 40 Wireless name recognition, as the two may be interchangeable for a while.”

“This is absolutely a win-win situation for Federated and Back 40 Wireless,” stated Troy Rasmussen, Back 40 owner. “This exciting opportunity provides more options to expand the wireless internet capabilities all while planning for the future addition of fiber to the home, with even greater speeds and reliability. By working together, we can serve current and new customers even better.”

Back 40 Wireless, founded in 2014, has about 60 tower sites, which provide line-of-sight internet serving 1,100 customers with speeds up to 40 megabytes (MB) download and 3 MB upload. Higher speeds may be available at certain tower locations. The existing business already serves much of Jackson County and has become a go-to resource for those wishing to have a better internet solution.

“Back 40 Wireless’s billing and pricing will remain unchanged at this time,” Reimer said. “However, we will look at the packages offered and adjust as needed. Eventually, Federated will explore adding a line to the electric bills for those with internet and electric service to make one monthly payment.”

With the acquisition, starting in January, the three existing Back 40 employees will become Federated employees in the new Broadband department, and they will be working at the co-op’s Jackson office. Rasmussen will continue as the department manager overseeing daily internet operations. Billing and operations specialist Chelsy Weires will assist internet customers with new services, billing and member service. Bryce Reetz will continue as an IT technician/installer.

In addition, Back 40 Wireless works with contractors Brandt Berkner, Jackson, and Anthony Almadovar, Lakefield, for installs and technical assistance, as needed. The business’s existing downtown location at 205 Second St. will close Dec. 31.

“This is a major step toward bringing faster internet services to our member-owners and the local area,” stated David Hansen, Federated Board president. “We will continue working on applying for grants and loans for deploying fiber optic internet in the future for Federated members in both counties. In fact, the board approved hiring a consulting firm Dec. 6 to submit Federated’s application for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Reconnect grant and loan program to cover fiber broadband. This application deadline is Feb. 22.”

Federated has experience with providing internet service, as the co-op has offered Wild Blue satellite internet since 2012, which became Exede satellite service. The remaining Federated satellite customers will be offered the faster service through Federated Broadband.

Federated is a Touchstone Energy cooperative serving 6,800 members in Jackson and Martin counties.

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