As we announced earlier, Eric Freesmeier, president of NRTC Broadband Solutions is retiring at the end of 2019. The NRTC Board of Directors during its meeting last week in Scottsdale, AZ, honored Freesmeier for his pioneering part in helping rural electric cooperatives enter the broadband internet business. The board and NRTC executives presented him a golf/spa vacation, a 13-year-old bottle of wine, and other gifts to bid him farewell.
Freesmeier founded Pulse Broadband 10 years ago as a service to guide cooperatives through the broadband evaluation and construction process. NRTC acquired Pulse in 2016 and it has become the basis for the current NRTC Broadband Solutions business unit.
“The rest is history. [Pulse/NRTC Broadband Solutions] has gone from 15 employees to 165. We’re working on 29 separate projects. We’ve improved the living standards for almost 400,000 people in rural America,” said NRTC CEO Tim Bryan said during the board meeting. “I tip my hat to Eric for having the vision to get Pulse started.”
“When I look at Pulse and what it has meant to NRTC … it’s over a third of our business … You’ve changed the way that NRTC does business and how our members look at us,” said NRTC Board Chairman Shannon Clark. He referred to fellow board member Sheldon Petersen, who as CEO of CFC reviews rural broadband financing applications. “I’ve talked to Sheldon many times. When a Pulse feasibility study comes in, it’s given a lot of respect,” Clark said.
NRTC Broadband Solutions staff recently compiled a history of Pulse Broadband, detailing how Freesmeier recognized that electric co-ops’ poles, rights of way and good will with their member-customers would lead to wider rural broadband coverage. Early Pulse customers like Ralls County Electric Cooperative and Co-Mo Electric Cooperative, both in Missouri, have been among the most successful electric co-op broadband deployments.
“I am proud of our role in pioneering this movement. Robust broadband networks are important for Smart Grid and to help bridge the broadband gap. As a community, we have made a difference and I’m sure the next generation will take it to the next level,” Freesmeier said