Ravalli Electric Cooperative (REC) has acquired Grizzly Broadband, formerly known as Cybernet1, one of the area’s top internet and fiber solutions provider. The partnership will allow the two organizations to combine their resources and decades of experience to offer affordable and reliable high-speed internet and technology services to members and customers throughout the Bitterroot Valley.
The decision to acquire Grizzly Broadband came after several months of research and discussion with Grizzly Broadband owners Jason and Tashara Pond. With the events of 2020 resulting in an increased need for high-speed internet, both groups viewed this no longer as a luxury, but a necessity.
“We had a significant increase in calls and requests for internet service this past year, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down,” said Pond. “So many people are relying on the internet for their day-to-day tasks and in the area we live in, sometimes being able to provide that quality service to them can be difficult.”
Electric Co-ops brought electricity to rural areas around the US in the 1930’s with the help of the Rural Electrification Act (REA). Quality high-speed internet in REC’s rural service territory is hard to come by. With the growing need for reliable internet in the valley, REC General Manager Mark Grotbo feels the cooperative can help solve this lack of broadband availability just as they did with the rural electricity movement in the 1930’s.
“We operate on seven cooperative principles, the seventh being ‘Concern for Community’,” stated Grotbo. “Access to reliable, high-speed internet is essential for all of us here in rural Montana, but it is not always a given where we live. Finding a way to fulfill this need for our members and community has been a topic of discussion for a long time, and I believe the Cooperative can help solve this problem.”
The collaboration of the two local companies who share common values was fueled by the idea of working together to provide an improved broadband solution for local area consumers. With the knowledge and expertise of Grizzly Broadband, and large support of tools and infrastructure from the co-op, the idea of combining resources seemed a win-win situation for all. REC’s Board of Directors unanimously approved the purchase of the local internet company at their monthly board meeting.
“The core of REC’s service has always been innovation, affordability, and value,” stated REC Board President Rex Griffin. “By combining our two entities together, we believe we can extend our mission to better serve our members, homes, businesses, schools and the entire community with reliable high-speed internet and fiber optic communication as the latest extension of our commitment to REC’s mission.”
While the task at hand will be beneficial to all, it is also extremely challenging and will require months of planning and preparation. Both Grizzly Broadband and REC will keep consumers informed of improvements and available fiber options through their websites and consumer newsletters.
“Just as it took time to run electricity throughout the valley, it will take time to plan and install fiber,” said Grotbo. “While we are all excited to take on this opportunity, we ask for patience from the community as we move forward.”
Ravalli Electric officially took over ownership on May 27, 2021 and the internet company will remain Grizzly Broadband at this time. Grizzly Broadband is located at 222 N 2nd Street in Hamilton.