SW Minnesota: the Ups & Downs of ARRA

I’ve been tracking progress of fiber deployment by the Southwest Minnesota Broadband Group (SMBG). It is an ARRA-funded project that is bringing fiber to homes in the following communities:

  • Bingham Lake,
  • Brewster
  • Heron Lake
  • Jackson
  • Lakefield
  • Okabena
  • Round Lake
  • Wilder

The project has been going very well – and even hooked up their first customer in December. So that part of Southwest Minnesota is going strong.

Unfortunately, according to Watch Dog, not all of Southwestern Minnesota is faring as well..

The recipient of a major federal stimulus grant and loan in southwestern Minnesota appears to be having second thoughts about proceeding with a broadband project spread out over three counties. The $15 million project which planned to expand broadband service in 15 communities may be in danger of going into the financial red zone, apparently due at least in part to the escalating costs of fiber optic cable.

Woodstock Telephone Company was approved by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to receive a $10.6 million grant and a $4.5 million loan from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to expand its fiber network by installing Fiber-to-the-Premise (FTTP) to an additional 3,600 premises in Lyon, Pipestone and Rock counties.

While there’s evidently been no formal announcement, the Minneota city administrator told the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota (FFM) that Woodstock Telephone informed her the company no longer intends to build a key facility in their community to house equipment for the network. FFM calls to Woodstock Telephone had not been returned at the time of this post.

I haven’t spoken to Woodstock, but I spoke to others who also indicated that Woodstock seemed as if it was running into some roadblocks.

This entry was posted in FTTH, Funding, MN, Rural and tagged by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

2 thoughts on “SW Minnesota: the Ups & Downs of ARRA

  1. I did speak to somebody with Woodstock TelCo. Their roadblocks are the same as many other similar projects. Its not lights out yet, simply a prudent re-assessment of costs. There’s a lot of wide open spaces out here to fill the gap.

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