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Federated Rural Electric buys Back 40 Wireless, will change name to Federated Broadband

Back 40’s existing downtown location at 205 Second St. will close Dec. 31, as its employees will work at the co-op's Jackson office.

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Federated Rural Electric General Manager Scott Reimer, right, and Back 40 Wireless Owner Troy Rasmussen unveil the new Federated Broadband logo. Federated acquired Back 40’s business effective Jan. 1, closing Jan. 7. The three Back 40 employees will become Federated employees in this stand-alone business. Submitted photo

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

Back 40 Wireless is a wireless internet company currently owned by Troy Rasmussen doing business from downtown Jackson. 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, and Back 40’s existing downtown location at 205 Second St. will close Dec. 31.

Back 40 Wireless provides 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,” said Scott Reimer, Federated’s general manager. “Federated Broadband will operate independently from the electric utility operations, as a self-sustaining business.”

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“This is absolutely a win-win situation for Federated and Back 40 Wireless,” said Troy Rasmussen, Back 40 owner.

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 download and 3 MB upload. Higher speeds may be available at certain tower locations. The existing business already serves much of Jackson County.

“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.”

Starting in January the three existing Back 40 employees will become Federated employees in the new broadband department, and they will work at the co-op’s Jackson office.

Back 40 Owner Troy 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.

“We will continue working on applying for grants and loans for deploying fiber optic internet in the future for Federated members in both counties,” said David Hansen, Federated Board president. “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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