Similar to other cooperative "middle mile" network ventures, the development of ION has been an evolutionary process. In 2004, 13 New York-based rural telcos, including Becker's family company Middleburgh Telephone Company, came together to form what was then called the EsiNet (Empire State Independent Fiber Network).
After a few years in operation of being in essentially in a startup mode, Vermont-based Sovernet Communications, a subsidiary of Atlantic Telenetwork, bought a majority stake in ION in August, 2008.
But even as it evolved over the past six years, Becker says the company never took its eyes off its initial mission which was to provide access to these rural tier 3 tier 4 markets and bring them back into the tier one metro markets.
This was because Becker and ION "saw the need and there was just this vacancy of reliable and affordable broadband in a lot of these rural areas," he said. "We all operated in these rural areas and understood the complexities and the challenges we had in getting reliable and affordable broadband."