Since I first became involved in telecommunications in 1998, I've thought of partnerships between municipals and telephone companies as a natural fit between small, customer-focused entities. But there are challenges to making it work. One of the primary challenges is building trust and understanding between the two types of organizations.
He listened patiently for few minutes, then chuckled and interrupted me. "We are not interested in working with you. We don't believe that municipals should be in the business and we would never agree to help you." (or words to that effect). Clearly that conversation was over. We found our tower site, built our network, and within 5 years had captured 70% of the market share for voice, video, and data. To this day, that was a conversation that I think about often when it comes to the challenge of municipals working with non-municipals of any type.
A true partnership must be built on a complete understanding of your partner's motivations and goals. There needs to be mutual gain. And there must be trust.
It's that final word-trust-that can be the hardest barrier to overcome. But I believe trust can follow if the hard work of understanding is conducted. Municipals and telcos are NOT the same. They have different business models that need to be accepted and taken into account when forming the partnership. But in the end what they do have in common-a desire to serve their communities-carries enormous weight and creates a strong motivation to overcome the challenges that partnerships of any type present.