Broadband coming for someA year from now, groundwork could begin for bringing broadband to many local municipalities, eventually offering service to homes.
A year from now, groundwork could begin for bringing broadband to many local municipalities, eventually offering service to homes.
Representatives of the Northeast Service Cooperative told local officials on Thursday that the group is in the engineering phase of the project to bring broadband to agencies such as medical facilities, counties and schools throughout Northeastern Minnesota.
“We’re looking to go into the ground next spring,” said Lyle MacVey, director of information technology for NSC. He said the area is underserved when it comes to broadband.
The group received $43.5 million in federal funding for a project to expand broadband capabilities in eight counties and more than 221 key sites, with the potential to stimulate public-private partnerships long-term across the region. It’s part of a federal push of $7.2 billion toward improving Internet connectivity in rural areas of the country.
It would include nearly a quarter of Minnesota and would pass through St. Louis, Lake, Cook, Koochiching, Carlton, Pine, Itasca and Aitkin counties.
The project could also provide a foundation for other companies who would like to bring broadband to private homes. Paul Brinkman, executive director of the NSC, said having that backbone in place could entice other companies to provide broadband to households because it would be more affordable.
Most of the lines will be redundant, which means the area could avoid another telecommunication breakdown like the one that occurred in January. But current plans don’t include redundancy beyond Illgen City, near Finland, meaning areas such as Cook County and Grand Portage may need to find another way to duplicate the lines.
Brinkman said he hopes they can work with private groups to get redundancy, because it’s not cost effective to do so all the way up to Grand Portage.
The NSC is paying for the project with one-half coming from the grant and the other a loan.