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MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Hanson Communications

Bruce Hanson, Hanson Communications

Hanson Communications owner Bruce Hanson discusses how his company is investing in next generation networks and the challenges and opportunities of a multi-state structure.

Tell us about Hanson Communications.

Hanson Communications is a family telecommunications company started in 1951 by Wes Hanson. The company consists of seven ILECs in three states; Minnesota, South Dakota, and Ohio, as well as cable systems in those states plus Nebraska.  We also have a CLEC in Ohio which serves business and residential customers in the west-central part of the state. Today, the second and third generations of the Wes Hanson family operate the business with over 100 employees and serving around 30,000 customers.

What is your biggest or most recent corporate accomplishment? 

Our most significant accomplishment has only just begun as the second generation of the Hanson family transitions operations to the family’s third generation. Our adoption of the FCC’s A-CAM funding mechanism, coupled with a nearly $5 million grant from the State of Minnesota and recent changes in the State and Federal tax laws for accelerated depreciation of new equipment, is helping us improve our broadband network, including the process of transitioning some of our most expensive plants to FTTH.  Our CLEC also completed a joint project with the Findlay Public Schools of a 20 mile fiber ring, allowing us to attract Fortune 500 companies as customers in Findlay, Ohio.

When you think about your company’s future, what, if anything, keeps you up at night?

With technologies evolving at the speed of light, if can be challenging to anticipate our customer service expectations. Telecommunications companies have always had to make investments in networks that have decades of useful life. Technological evolution, however, has challenged the decision-making process. That is why we have adopted fiber solutions that are future proof. Cord cutting is another challenge. We have seen our cable television systems decline in value with the attrition of customers, and an increase in content costs, which threaten the sustainability of the business model.

What unique challenges does your company face while serving rural communities over a three state area? 

We have always viewed our multi-state structure as important to insuring our viability.  Many young, talented people, however, are pursuing careers in urban areas leaving a void of well qualified people to fill good-paying jobs. Customers in rural communities want to be as connected as their peers in urban areas, but smaller, rural providers have limits on the dollars they can invest in hard to reach areas, as well as a limited number of people to do the work.  It takes a lot of planning and time to build these areas and people don’t always have the patience to wait.

What are two websites that you can’t get through the day without checking?

WSJ.com and CNBC.com

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