Rural broadband providers broke ground today on a series of multimillion dollar projects that will deliver leading-edge fiber broadband technology to rural communities across Eastern North Dakota. A groundbreaking ceremony near Casselton today was hosted by Halstad Telephone Company, MLGC, Polar Communications, Red River Communications, and BEK Communications Cooperative.
The people living in this region have been waiting a long time for this to happen,” says Tom Steinolfson, CEO/GM of Red River Communications. “Speaking on behalf of my broadband colleagues across the state, we are thrilled to be able to fulfill the promise to the residents of these underserved and unserved communities who have been waiting a long time to enjoy the same connectivity as some of their neighbors in more populated areas.”
In total, these rural broadband providers are building more than $119 million worth of fiber broadband, funded by four separate state and federal funding sources.
“Our focus is to ensure that every resident in North Dakota has access to high-speed broadband, leveling the playing field between urban and rural communities,” says Karl Blake, CEO of Polar Communications. “North Dakota has always been the most connected state in America. With these recent funds, we’ll be that much closer to 100% connectivity.”
The transformational technology upgrade will generate a surge of benefits including: igniting economic opportunities for local businesses and agricultural operations, enabling rural students to realize their educational aspirations with better access to online learning platforms, strengthening healthcare services through improved telehealth capabilities, and bolstering public safety by improving communications infrastructure.
“This is a game changer for us,” says Clay Erdmann, Regional Sales Manager for Mustang Seeds, a seed supply company located just three miles south of Casselton. “We’ll be able to run our business much more efficiently with a reliable, faster connection.”
“This is an unprecedented opportunity taking place in Eastern North Dakota,” says Steinolfson. “We want to take a moment to thank the Governor’s office, our state’s congressional delegation, local and state legislators, and county officials for helping to secure the funding needed to make these projects a reality. Also, we thank the residents and businesses of our rural communities for your resilience and patience throughout this process.”