Polar Local Global

Five providers that offer service in eastern North Dakota broke ground simultaneously last week on fiber projects funded, in part, through state and federal broadband programs. The providers celebrated with a groundbreaking ceremony near Casselton.

The providers are BEK Communications Cooperative, Halstad Telephone Company, MLGC, Polar Communications and Red River Communications. All five companies have provided service in North Dakota for decades.

The total investment in the projects will be $119 million, of which the providers will be investing $48.7 million.

The state and local funding came through the USDA ReConnect program and North Dakota ARPA programs.

“The people living in this region have been waiting a long time for this to happen,” said Tom Steinolfson, CEO/GM of Red River Communications, in a press release. “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.”

North Dakota Broadband

Small rural providers cover a large portion of North Dakota and already have invested heavily in fiber broadband. The state has the distinction of having gigabit service available to a higher percentage of the population than for any other state.

Nevertheless, unserved and underserved locations remain in areas of the state where buildout costs are uneconomical. The government funding can help close the gap for those locations.

“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,” said Karl Blake, CEO of Polar Communications, in the press release. “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 following chart shows the five companies and the federal or state funding that they won recently.

BEK Communications CooperativeBarnes, Cass, Ransom$21,017,520
Halstad Telephone CompanyCass, Grand Forks, Traill$12,275,934
MLGCCass, Richland, Steele$31,000,000
Polar CommunicationsWalsh, Grand Forks, Traill, Steele$49,626,551
Red River CommunicationsRichland$5,269,494

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