Two views on ARRA-funded fiber in Brainerd

It’s week for opposing views on community fiber networks. Yesterday Renville-Sibely, today Brainerd.

In September, Northland’s NewsCenter ran an article on the fiber network expanding around Brainerd…

Construction of nearly 430 miles of fiber optic network cable is underway in Brainerd.

It’s part of the three year Greater Minnesota Broadband Collaborative Project that rolled into Duluth and Superior last year in August. …

“Those that have reached out to us are excited about the opportunity of another broad band pipe and capacity in the community,” Jennifer Spaude, Enventis Director of Investor Relations said. “Broadband is certainly not a luxury it’s a requirement for a healthy community to thrive.”

The network will deliver a minimum of 100 MB of broadband Ethernet services to 80 major healthcare, government and education systems as well as to 74,000 small and medium businesses.

On Sunday (Oct 14, 2012), the Brainerd Dispatch posted a letter to the editor with a rebuttal to the original story…

But what the article fails to mention, and bureaucrats at the federal and state levels grossly overlooked when awarding grant funds, is that this network and bandwidth already exists. …

I’m simply amazed that this project is even happening and that the federal government is picking up the tab for 69 percent of it. It is a fact that there are already multiple fiber cables along 100 percent of this route from Brainerd to Moorhead. There are portions of this route where the new Enventis facility is the sixth fiber cable to be placed in the road ditch and there’s barely any room to place another cable. Federal funding is being given to duplicate facilities that are already in place.

With transport capacity and fiber windows already available along the Brainerd-Moorhead route today through the networks of the independent telephone companies (as well as others), all of the services proposed to be offered by Enventis are already available. The independent telephone company networks can already provide 100 Mb/s, 1 Gb/s, or even 10 Gb/s ethernet network connectivity to any of the cities, towns, and community anchor institutions that Enventis proposes to reach with its Brainerd-Moorhead route.

Here is more information on the Eventis project – borrowed from when I took a closer look at the project in 2010

Enventis Telecom – This approximately $16.8 million award, with more than $7.2 million in matching contributions, will allow Enventis Telecom to offer affordable middle-mile broadband service in Minnesota. The project plans to directly connect 70 community institutions to broadband. As many as 350,400 people stand to benefit as do 28,000 businesses. Enventis estimates that the project will create more than 250 jobs…

The project will connect Rochester’s Mayo Clinic campus with 12 rural health care facilities throughout southern Minnesota. The high-speed broadband will enable the clinic to provide distance health care training, education and remote telemedicine services to patients in rural areas.

And a little more information on Jason Dale, who wrote the letter to the editor…

Jason Dale is the CEO of Cooperative Network Services, LLC, headquartered in Menahga, Minn. Cooperative Network Services (or “CNS”) is owned by 20 rural cooperative telephone companies, mostly in Minnesota.

CNS sent these similar concerns to NTIA back in 2010 when service providers were invited to send responses to applications.  

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

About Ann Treacy

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

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