$24 Million Greater Minnesota Broadband Collaborative Project Launches

By Wil Payton, Communications Specialist, Connected Nation

Enventis Telecom, a subsidiary of HickoryTech, is kicking off a $24 million Greater Minnesota Broadband Collaborative Project on Aug. 25 that will improve high-speed Internet access in rural Minnesota communities.

Project Impact:
• Statewide network will connect 36 rural Minnesota communities in 23 counties
• The fiber network will deliver a minimum of 100 MB broadband Ethernet services to 74 Community Anchor Institutions, including: healthcare facilities, schools, libraries, higher education facilities, and public offices
• More than 886,000 people living in 315,000 households will have access to these low-cost, high-capacity broadband services
• More than 74,000 small and medium size businesses in Minnesota will also have access to this network

This bodes well for the economic future of the communities impacted by this project. The 2010 Connect Minnesota Business Technology Survey indicated that businesses with broadband Internet connections reported having median annual revenues $300,000 more than the state average.

In July, Enventis started construction of the 430-mile fiber optic project, scheduled for completion in 2013. The network will provide affordable, high-capacity broadband services across northern Minnesota. Enventis estimates that the project will create more than 250 jobs.

“I’ve seen first hand around our state the problems with Internet access,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (R-MN) speaking this month at another broadband project — the Carver County groundbreaking celebrating the beginning of its new fiber optic ring, which will be over 122 miles long and will connect 86 entities at 56 sites throughout Carver County, Minnesota.

In addressing the economic potential of improved broadband access in the state, Sen. Klobuchar stated that, “…whether you are a gift shop, or a restaurant, or a family farm, or a little start-up company, broadband is the ticket to reaching new customers, selling more products, and growing your business.”

As part of the National Telecommunication and Information Administration’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, Enventis was awarded a $16.8 million grant last August. Over the next two years, an additional $7.2 million will be contributed by the company to the project.

Follow us on Twitter @ConnectMN for updates on broadband projects going on across the state.

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