Congrats to Paul Bunyan, IRRRB and Itasca County…
Paul Bunyan Communications awarded State of Minnesota Border to Border Broadband Grant for portions of Central Itasca County
Cooperative will bring Broadband network to over 1,250 locations
(Bemidji, MN) (November 21, 2015) –Paul Bunyan Communications has been awarded a Border to Border Broadband Grant from the state of Minnesota to expand its fiber optic services to portions of central Itasca County in partnership with the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) and Itasca County.
As a result, the cooperative will begin expansion construction next spring that will pass over 1,250 locations in portions of Balsam Township, Lawrence Township, Nashwauk Township, and the city of Taconite. Final expansion plans that will determine the locations to be passed are expected by early spring.
“This is very exciting news for so many people who are currently without access to broadband in central Itasca County and it is a truly collaborative effort that makes it possible. Our cooperative has a long history of expanding our network to underserved areas but it has become increasingly challenging to go it alone without grant support. The support offered by both IRRRB and Itasca County has been phenomenal. Additionally, the Itasca Economic Development Corporation was instrumental in building community support and providing guidance through the grant application process. The irony is these areas will not only get Broadband access, they’ll go from no real access to becoming a part of one of the largest rural Gigabit networks in the country. Many will go from satellite and dial up to speeds of up to a Gigabit per second,” said Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General Manager.
Paul Bunyan Communications expects to finalize the expansion plans by early spring and will contact all locations along the expansion route shortly thereafter. Construction will start in the early summer and will be completed by June 30, 2017. While the general area of the expansion is determined, the specific locations that it will pass will depend upon the final network design. Those in the region interested on keeping up to date on the project can look for updates on the Paul Bunyan website at http://paulbunyan.net or join the Paul Bunyan Communications Central Itasca Fiber Project Group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/PBC.Itasca/
“I am really excited about this project and the positive impact it will have on people’s lives. Students will have access to educational resources, employees will be able to work from home, seniors will be able to stay in their homes longer with telemedicine, and a rural medical clinic will finally get the connectivity it has needed for years.” added Steve Howard, Paul Bunyan Communications Information Technology and Development Manager.
“In addition to the local partnerships we’ve formed that makes this a reality, no project would have gotten off the ground if it wasn’t for the hard work of our elected officials who championed the Border to Border Broadband Grant Program. I want to thank all of them and also the Office of Broadband Development that oversees the program. This is going to make a world of difference in so many ways to a lot of people in central Itasca County!” said Johnson.
All of the cooperative’s services will become available once the network is operational including GigaZone service options like unprecedented Broadband Internet speeds of up to 1000 Mbps – a Gigabit, PBTV Fusion and low cost unlimited local and long distance GigaZone voice service. There is no membership fee to join Paul Bunyan Communications, membership is included by subscribing to either local phone service or GigaZone Internet service.
Paul Bunyan Communications has the region’s largest and fastest all fiber optic network with over 5,000 square miles throughout most of Beltrami County and portions of Cass, Hubbard, Itasca, Koochiching, and St. Louis Counties. The Cooperative provides Broadband High Speed Internet Services including the GigaZone, digital and high definition television services, Smart Home services, digital voice services, and more.