The band has created a corporation, Aaniin, to build and provide fiber-optic service to all residents of the reservation, whether or not they’re tribal members. Main lines are in the process of being laid and should be completed sometime in November; workers then will begin the process of running fiber-optic lines to as many as 1,800 households on the roughly 39,000-acre reservation.
Only a handful of tribes nationwide have created their own broadband providers, said Danna MacKenzie, executive director of the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development. But the trend toward rural communities providing their own broadband service is growing, she said.
“We are seeing communities and providers leaning in and finding a lot of good solutions,” MacKenzie said. “And others are getting even more creative in looking at ways to solve what they see as their community needs on their own.”
The state has a goal of seeing that every Minnesota resident has access to broadband service with a minimum download speed of 25 megabits (Mb) per second and upload speed of 3 Mb by 2022. By 2026, the goal is to make upload speed of 100 Mb and download speed of 20 Mb available to all.
Currently, about 82,000 rural households lack access to the broadband speeds set in the 2022 goals, according to data from MacKenzie’s office. About 243,000 households don’t meet the 2026 standards.
Broadband access will provide a wide array of benefits to Fond du Lac residents, Hollinday said.