NU-Telecom: 2 grants will help expand broadband

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Two grants NU-Telecom received from the state help speed along expansions to rural broadband.

The company received funding for two out of five projects it applied for through the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant program from the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

“I think it is crucial, especially on a more timely basis,” CEO and President Bill Otis said. “In some cases it would be hard to justify the build without the grants so you end up a little bit with the haves and the have-nots. I would not say that these customers would never get it, but it would be farther down the road.”

NU-Telecom received funding for last-mile (connecting consumers to a central hub) expansions in rural White Rock and Hanska. Three other expansions that did not receive grants were located northeast of New Ulm, north of Springfield and northeast of Hutchinson.

The grants only cover part of the cost of each project. The White Rock grant covers $411,704 of a $914,898 project and the Hanska grant covers $324,894 of a $721,988 project.

Both funded projects will expand fiber optic cables, extremely thin fibers of transparent glass or silica that are faster than copper wires.

Combined, the grants bring the cost for NU-Telecom down from over $1.6 million to $900,288.

Grant projects like Border-to-Border are aimed at reducing expansion costs, which deters installation of rural broadband networks.

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