DICKINSON, N.D. (KFYR) – More than $500 million in federal loans and grants are helping internet providers expand access toward rural homes and businesses. Of that, $46 million will be going to North Dakota providers, including one in Dickinson.
Consolidated received nearly $14 million as part of the US Department of Agriculture’s “ReConnect” program. CEO Bryan Personne says the investment will extend its fiber-optic network to many rural businesses, farms and a school throughout Billings and Stark Counties.
“This is a part of our state that doesn’t have high-speed internet access today, and most of us take that for granted. We’re very excited to be able to bring this to them,” said Personne.
Personne said potential new customers wrote letters of support to the USDA, saying they would have to travel miles to get internet access.
Other recipients of the ReConnect program include BEK, Griggs County Telephone and Halstad Telephone. They’ll provide access for rural communities throughout eastern North Dakota.
“We want rural communities and rural residents to be just as connected to friends, schools and customers if they have a small business,” said Erin Oban, State Director for USDA Rural Development.
Personne adds that Consolidated will be using federal programs to make sure its internet is affordable to customers.
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