Location: Ronan, Mont.
Why it's so cutting-edge: Ronan jumped right into the deep end of the spectrum pool, buying up 700 Mhz spectrum last January. Unlike some other telcos that haven't used their spectrum yet, Ronan is putting it to work with Mobile WiMAX gear provided by SOMA Networks. In a federally-funded deployment, the telco is using WiMAX not only for broadband Internet, but also plans to use it for voice, which is one way to fight the line-dropping trend. The company also offers DSL.
But can it keep its edge? It's hard to say where some of the smallest telcos, like Ronan and Canby, figure in coming consolidation. They have fairly isolated markets all to themselves, but I've always wondered why, in the age of broadband wireless, bigger companies haven't tried to move into such markets to chase new revenue.