Missoula Valley Internet Co-op Community Call Agenda — 03/14/21

The Missoula Valley Internet Co-op will be holding a public community call on Sunday, March 14th, at 4:00PM Mountain time. During this call we will be discussing the progress we have made in growing our network, the current status of our first initiative of connecting residents in the Grant Creek area, and an update on our timeline for further expansion into Missoula and surrounding communities.

While this call is open to anyone who would like to join to learn about our activities and ask questions about our service or general operations, we would like to extend our invitations to this call particularly to residents of the Grant Creek area.

As our non-profit, the Pacific Northwest Rural Broadband Alliance, is primarily focused on building community owned and operated networks for under-served and un-connected residents, we wanted to focus our initial efforts and resources where they would make the most difference. So choosing to launch in the Prospect neighborhood was a strategic decision based on many factors, but particularly due to it’s central location between north Missoula, Frenchtown, and the north Grant Creek area where not only did we receive the most initial demand from our pre-registration campaign, but was directly located in an area where the surrounding residents suffer most with poor / highly limited access to the internet.

As we discussed in our previous community call, the building of our network puts the community in the drivers seat. We provide all the technical knowledge, experience, and ability to build fast and affordable broadband service, but it is up to the community to participate in telling us exactly how and where our network will be deployed. This means that the success of this service, and it’s ability to efficiently deliver service to those who need it the most, is reliant on property owners willing to participate in the form of hosting relays.

But what is a relay? In it’s simplest form a relay is merely an additional antenna mounted on your home, or other free-standing structure on your property, that serves to connect surrounding homes to our network.

A relay can look like something as small and un-assuming as this:

Or a free-standing pole, or more HAM radio-type tower:

The type of relay someone might host varies depending on what they are willing to purchase and host, to what the customer needs and demands are in the surrounding area. This means that hosting a relay, and the type of relay a customer might host is done in concert with their willingness to participate in the network, and our organizations assessment of what will best serve nearby customers (and the network as a whole).

While building this type of service in many ways is fairly simple and straight-forward, it is also a more complex process that requires cooperation and coordination between our organization and the community itself.

As an idea of what a perspective plan, and what the construction of a series of relays might look like to provide service to the entire Grant Creek area we have developed a theoretical map of ideal relays from the Prospect neighborhood all the way to Bench Rd in north Grant Creek.

As you can see from this map, to provide service to everyone in the Grant Creek area is not necessarily a simple task, however with the cooperation and participation with the community it is a task that, with our guidance, can be easily accomplished, and in the end produce the first part of a larger fully community owned and operated network that everyone in the community can benefit from by receiving fast and affordable broadband service, and relay operators fairly and equitably compensated for their role in making this network a success.

Please join our community call for further discussion of the plans and process outlined here. We look forward to talking more with the residents of the Grant Creek area, and members of the community as a whole.

The Zoom meeting information is as follows:

Meeting time: March 14th, 4:00PM Mountain time

Zoom meeting link: https://zoom.us/j/91204978177?pwd=aURsZmpWTEh5UFRlckJmdUlVUTNnQT09

Meeting ID: 912 0497 8177
Passcode: 672813
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Lastly, if you have not yet seen it KPAX News recently produced a great segment covering our organization and the launch of our network. It can be viewed here.

UPDATE: If you couldn’t attend our community call it’s been posted on our YouTube channel here.

We are The Pacific Northwest Rural Broadband Alliance, a non-profit foundation dedicated to building fast, affordable, community powered broadband networks.

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