Sunrise Cooperative to work with Microsoft, Land O’Lakes and Watch Communications on broadband connectivity project that will benefit customer-owners and employees

Feb 11, 2021

Fremont, Ohio February 11, 2021 -  Today, Sunrise Cooperative announced a collaboration with Microsoft, Land O’Lakes and internet service provider Watch Communications to expand broadband internet access to customer-owners and employees of the cooperative. Watch Communications installed high-speed broadband technology at the Sunrise Cooperative Uniopolis facility, improving access to broadband connectivity throughout the area. 
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 18 million Americans do not have access to broadband, including nearly a quarter of Americans living in rural areas. Additionally, 60 percent of farmers say they lack the connectivity needed to run their business. This effort by Sunrise, Watch Communications, Microsoft and Land O’ Lakes aims to address these gaps.
This project is part of ongoing efforts by Land O’Lakes and Microsoft to eliminate the rural broadband gap across the United States. Sunrise is part of the Land O’Lakes member network, and Watch Communications is a Microsoft Airband Initiative partner. Through its Airband Initiative, Microsoft aims to extend broadband access to 3 million people who reside in unserved or underserved rural areas in the United States by partnering with internet service providers and others. 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 work closely with our customer-owners and understand the limited resources available to them with internet connectivity,” said George D. Secor, President/CEO of Sunrise Cooperative. “This project is a great step to bridge the gap in our rural communities. We are excited to be able to support this project that will provide a critical service and help to make a difference across the country.” 
"We're so excited to be partnering with these organizations to bring real solutions for the lack of broadband access in this community,” said Teddy Bekele, Chief Technology Officer at Land O’Lakes. “As a farmer-owned co-op with deep roots across rural America, Land O'Lakes will continue to raise awareness and devise more ways to increase access to digital connectivity for all Americans."
“One’s zip code should not be a barrier to accessing broadband internet, nor the opportunity it provides,” said Shelley McKinley, vice president of Technology and Corporate Responsibility at Microsoft. “Through partnerships like these, we can help ensure communities are not left behind, and instead help them adopt new technologies and thrive in the 21st century economy.
“Bringing fast and reliable broadband internet to rural communities is the core of our mission,” said Chris Daniels, president and CEO of Watch Communications. “Organizations like Sunrise Cooperative and Land O’Lakes are tremendous partners in this effort, and we’re excited to work with them. We appreciate their trust and look forward to bringing better Internet to their members.”
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About Sunrise Cooperative
Sunrise Cooperative, Inc. is a leading agricultural and energy cooperative with its corporate headquarters located in Fremont, Ohio. We offer team-based solutions across multiple divisions including agronomy, grain, energy and feed, as well as a nationally recognized precision ag department and our own crop nutrition division, PCT | Sunrise. With annual sales of $800 million, Sunrise is a 100-percent farmer-owned cooperative, and we are committed to bringing innovative choices and expert solutions to our customer-owners. At Sunrise, we offer you the best choices delivered by the best team through our state-of-the art facilities and expertly trained employees. We strive each day to grow your success.
About Watch Communications
Founded in 1992, Watch Communications is an Internet Service Provider (ISP) using a combination of fixed wireless and fiber technologies to serve residential and business customers throughout Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky. Watch Communications began as a wireless cable TV provider and expanded service offerings in 1998 to include the Internet. Since its creation, Watch Communications has focused on unserved and underserved small and rural markets. Watch Communications is a subsidiary of Benton Ridge Telephone. The Benton Ridge family of companies also includes Community Fiber Solutions in Indiana and Q Wireless in Kentucky and Indiana.
About Microsoft Airband
Microsoft’s Airband Initiative is an effort to close the broadband gap and help communities use new connectivity to improve education, health care, and agriculture, and transform their businesses. The Airband Initiative works with the private and public sectors to invest in new technologies, accelerate broadband deployment, and support policy changes with the goal of bringing broadband access to millions of people in the United States. More information can be found at
About Land O'Lakes, Inc.  
Land O'Lakes, Inc., one of America's premier agribusiness and food companies, is a member-owned cooperative with industry-leading operations that span the spectrum from agricultural production to consumer foods. With 2019 annual sales of $14 billion, Land O'Lakes is one of the nation's largest cooperatives, ranking 212 on the Fortune 500. Building on a legacy of more than 99 years of operation, Land O'Lakes today operates some of the most respected brands and businesses in agriculture and food production including Land O’Lakes Dairy Foods, Purina Animal Nutrition, WinField United and Truterra, LLC. The company does business in all 50 states and more than 60 countries. Land O'Lakes, Inc. corporate headquarters is located in Arden Hills, Minn.

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