As another year has come and gone, 2019 was one for the books! I wanted to give you a recap of 2019 and a preview of our 2020 plans. Get ready for symmetrical gigabit Internet speeds, elite business services, a new retail office in Brandon, and more.
FASTER INTERNET SPEEDS AND MORE WI-FI OPTIONS
This past fall, all customers were upgraded to faster Internet speeds for no additional cost. You may have noticed that we started offering 500 Mbps for only $100/month. Soon ALL Internet packages will be available without a landline requirement.
Plus, all speeds are now symmetrical, which means the upload speed is just as fast as the download. Whether you’re a gamer, telecommuter, or video chatter, upload speeds matter now more than ever. Imagine how frustrating a commute would be if the speed limit on one side of the road was 1000 Mph, while the other side was 20 Mph. With Alliance’s 100% fiber-optic network, you can go 1000 Mph both ways.
But we’re not stopping there. Symmetrical GIGABIT Internet speeds are coming in 2020. Alliance’s 100% fiber-optic network is the only technology that can offer you reliable symmetrical gigabit Internet speeds. To complement faster speeds, a new Whole Home Wi-Fi router option that has Wi-Fi 6 capable antennas and mesh technology will be available in 2020. Or to put it more simply, these routers offer amazing Wi-Fi coverage.
NEW SERVICES HELP BUSINESSES GROW
In early 2019, businesses were given the opportunity to subscribe to firewall services and commercial Wi-Fi that Alliance installs and supports. A new hosted phone system is coming in 2020 that supports multi-location businesses and allows them to better plan for disaster recovery. Plus, users will appreciate the convenience of smart phone features and a line that they can take anywhere.
ALLIANCE EXPANDS SERVICE TO NEW AREAS
Alliance just completed a South Dakota Connect grant project that brought fiber-optic Internet to 60+ unserved locations north of Sherman, SD. Prior to receiving our service, families drove to neighboring towns to complete homework and update the software on their smartphones.
We’ll continue pursuing state and federal grants in 2020, and recent developments opened the door for us to explore other areas, too. We’re excited to bring broadband to those who don’t have reliable service or want a new local choice. These expansion areas also offer Alliance greater revenue diversity and economies of scale and scope. They also bring revenues into the cooperative and to its members from other customers.
CABLE TV IS STILL A STRUGGLE, BUT WE HAVE SOME GOOD NEWS FOR 2020
We negotiated new deals for all programming contracts that expired at the end of the year, and we will retain all channels on our lineup in 2020. Unfortunately, rising content costs will result in price increases.
In 2020, we plan on rolling out highly demanded DVR features, a new look to our interactive channel guide, and video enhancements that will improve channel quality and usability. I can’t say what these features are right now, but you won’t be disappointed when you look back at this message.
STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS AND INVESTMENTS PUT MORE MONEY IN YOUR POCKET
During the past year, Alliance maintained strong partnerships, product growth and investments in our network and other communication services. Our partnerships in regional and statewide networks have given us strategic pathways to larger communications hubs like Minneapolis, Denver and Omaha, and have helped diversify and stabilize revenue streams. These partnerships have aided in growing services and ensuring network viability and reliability, which is crucial as competitive providers move into Alliance areas and threaten cooperative revenues.
NEW FEDERAL SUPPORT ENSURES AWESOME INTERNET AT AFFORDABLE PRICES
Alliance received some good news from the FCC and Congress in regards to rural broadband Internet support. The federal government added broadband services to its funding mechanisms and provided companies like Alliance with some clarity for the future. This support comes with red tape and extra work. However, for the first time in many years, highly-demanded services are receiving federal support, which makes it possible for you to receive high-speed Internet in places where it might not have been economically feasible.
NEW OFFICE OPENED JANUARY 16
We spent much of 2019 developing the 5.5 acre Alliance Plaza in Brandon, which is now home to the new post office and Alliance’s new retail and business office. We moved into our new location on January 16, so please stop by. The rest of the land was sold to Avera Healthcare in 2019, and we’re excited to hear about their plans.
By the way, Alliance also has a new online office, too. Visit the new alliancecom.net today if you haven’t already.
THRIVING COMMUNITIES BENEFIT EVERYONE
As you may already know, Alliance has a long-standing commitment to the communities we serve. This commitment stems from the fact that we’re a cooperative. We’re owned by our member customers, and excess revenue is returned to our members in their capital credits.
The Keep the Change program was a shining example of our dedication to customers in 2019. The Brandon Volunteer Fire Department, for example, recently used Keep the Change Funds to purchase a LUCAS CPR device, which delivers high-quality chest compressions to sudden cardiac arrest patients. We thank everyone who participates in rounding up their bills to the nearest dollar to help improve local communities.
Additionally, we awarded $11,000 in college scholarships to graduating seniors, and our employees volunteered countless hours to helping with community projects. Plus, we’ve formed partnerships in some communities to offer free Wi-Fi in public places, and more locations will be added next year.
As always, if you have any questions, please contact us by dialing 611 from any phone with Alliance service or (605) 582-6311 from your cell phone. All of us at Alliance send you our warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a glorious new year.
General Manager/ CEO