TULARE, CALIF. (Jan. 26, 2022) – A collaboration with Land O’Lakes, Inc., internet service provider Cal.net and Microsoft will expand broadband internet access to residents of Tulare and the surrounding community. Cal.net is installing high-speed broadband technology in a total of 16 sites including the Land O’Lakes Dairy Foods Tulare plant, improving broadband connectivity to residents in the area. This effort to improve internet connectivity has the potential to directly benefit more than 255,000 local residents.
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 14.5 million Americans do not have access to broadband, but experts believe the actual number could be twice that or more: Broadband Now estimates more than 42 million Americans lack access. Additionally, 60 percent of farmers say they lack the connectivity needed to run their business. This effort by Cal.net, Land O’Lakes and Microsoft aims to address these gaps, including for Land O’Lakes dairy farmer-owners who are currently unable to access adequate broadband service in these areas.
“With new and emerging technology, improved broadband speed and access is increasingly critical in running our farms,” said Joey Fernandes, Land O’Lakes dairy member-owner and owner of Fernjo Farms. “We are excited about the potential this broadband service will provide to us and fellow members.”
This project is part of ongoing efforts by Land O’Lakes, Cal.net and Microsoft to address the rural broadband gap across the United States. Through its Airband Initiative, Microsoft developed a strategic approach that brings together private and public sector organizations to help address the broadband gap and aims to extend broadband access to three million people living in rural America by July 2022. Similarly, Land O’Lakes and its cooperative network are helping to bridge the digital divide with awareness and advocacy through its American Connection Project.
"We're so excited to be working with these organizations to bring real solutions for the lack of broadband access in these communities and for our dairy farmer-owners in the Tulare area,” said Teddy Bekele, Chief Technology Officer at Land O’Lakes. “As a farmer-owned co-op, Land O'Lakes works to support job creation and vibrant communities where our members and their families work and live. We will continue to develop more ways to increase access to digital connectivity for all Americans."
“Cal.net is proud to be a part of this opportunity to provide Land O’Lakes farmer-owned co-op members with the leading broadband technology,” stated Mark Herr, VP of Corporate Development for Cal.net. “Our high speed broadband connections will enable them to receive a faster and more reliable connection for their operations.”
“Too many in rural America are cut off from the same opportunities afforded to people in other, connected parts of the country,” said Vickie Robinson, general manager of Microsoft’s Airband Initiative. “Through partnerships like these – which bring together connectivity partners, agriculture leaders, and technology companies – we can drive digital transformation in rural communities like Tulare and improve livelihoods.”
For more information on Cal.net, visit www.cal.net.