DURBIN, ND - A major milestone for rural connectivity was achieved today as broadband providers commenced multimillion-dollar projects to bring state-of-the-art fiber broadband to underserved communities in Eastern North Dakota. Leading this transformative effort are Halstad Telephone Company, MLGC, Polar Communications, Red River Communications, and BEK Communications Cooperative, who hosted a groundbreaking ceremony near Casselton.
Tom Steinolfson, CEO/GM of Red River Communications, remarked, "The people living in this region have been waiting a long time for this to happen." He conveyed the collective enthusiasm of broadband providers statewide, stating, "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."
These rural broadband endeavors represent an investment of over $119 million, supported by a blend of state and federal funding from four distinct sources. Karl Blake, CEO of Polar Communications, underscored the ambitious goals of the project, stating, "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. 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 broad spectrum of advantages this initiative promises is noteworthy. From fueling economic growth for local businesses and agricultural ventures to enhancing students' access to online education platforms, the benefits are multifaceted. Additionally, the expansion promises to bolster healthcare services with improved telehealth capacities and strengthen public safety through enhanced communication infrastructures.
Local businesses are eagerly anticipating these changes. Clay Erdmann, Regional Sales Manager for Mustang Seeds, located just south of Casselton, shared his enthusiasm, stating, "This is a game changer for us. We'll be able to run our business much more efficiently with a reliable, faster connection."
Steinolfson took a moment to acknowledge the collective efforts that have propelled this project forward. "This is an unprecedented opportunity taking place in Eastern North Dakota," he said. He extended his gratitude, "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."
This initiative marks a significant stride towards bridging the digital divide in Eastern North Dakota, promising a brighter and more connected future for its residents.