Three local providers were the big winners in the latest round of Minnesota’s Line Extension Connection broadband funding program. Two larger companies—Mediacom and Midco — also won funding in this round of the program, which awarded a total of almost $4.4 million.

The three local providers that won the most funding were Hiawatha Broadband, which won over $1.3 million to extend service to 205 locations; Consolidated Telephone Company (not to be confused with Consolidated Communications), which won over $1 million to extend service to 282 locations; and Arvig, which won over $842,500 to bring service to 118 locations.

Arvig’s awards were made to six different entities that the company owns. In a press release, Arvig noted that it will contribute a total of $217,419 toward project costs.

Mediacom won $190,501 to extend service to 37 locations and Midco won $166,800 to extend service to 21 locations.

All other awardees won smaller amounts than Mediacom and Midco, except Savage Communications (SCI), a local cable company that won $354,445 to extend service to 104 locations.

Other companies winning funding were Bevcomm, Farmers Mutual Telephone, Federated REA Cooperative, Federated Telephone Cooperative, Johnson Telephone, Otter Tail Telecom, Paul Bunyan Telephone, Sytek Communication, and Wiktel.

In total, 14 companies won funding (or 20 if Arvig’s six entities are counted individually). The awardees will contribute a total of over $2.2 million toward total project costs of over $6.6 million. The projects will extend service to a total of 843 locations, including 779 residences and 64 businesses.

Funding will go toward extending broadband to homes and businesses where people have reported to the state’s Office of Broadband Development (OBD) that a wired broadband service supporting speeds of 25/3 Mbps is unavailable.

Every six months, OBD sends the list of addresses to every broadband provider offering service in Minnesota. Providers then have ten days to notify OBD that they can provide service at any of the addresses on the list and OBD passes that information on to the person who reported the lack of service.

For those addresses that are not served by a provider, OBD holds a reverse auction in which broadband providers bid to extend service to addresses on the list. OBD then selects the bids that request the least amount of financial support from the state and that are cost-effective. Winning bidders have one year from the date the contract with OBD is signed to complete the buildouts, which must offer speeds of at least 100Mbps symmetrically.

Minnesota is one eight states that offer funding for line extension programs.

A complete list of winners in this round of Minnesota’s program can be found on the Broadband Nation page for the state. Click on the tab for the line extension program, then click on “Awards Made- Nov. 2023.”

You’ll also find other information about Minnesota broadband, including links to state resources and Telecompetitor coverage, on the Minnesota Broadband Nation page.

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