Two Minnesota providers have received honors from the Digital Opportunity Equity Recognition (DOER) Program. It’s a big deal and each cooperative has earned their honor.
First the spoiler – here are the hometown heroes…
- Consolidated Telecommunications Co. (CTC) partnered with the Brainerd School District in Minnesota to coordinate in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Within two days, using data provided by the school district on all students that did not have access to a reliable connection, CTC plotted hundreds of students into its GIS mapping system and partnered with the District to contact all families within their service area. The information led to them connecting 100 students within a week without regard to their families’ credit rating, history with CTC, or ability to pay. By the end of April, CTC connected over 300 additional homes.
- Paul Bunyan Communications and its cooperative members have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic including the transition to working from home, increased telehealth services, and distance learning. Paul Bunyan Communications worked directly with the school districts it serves to quickly develop creative solutions to ensure broadband access for students by installing multiple Wi-Fi hot spots so students and their families in unserved areas around the cooperative would not be left behind. The cooperative has now built one of the largest all-fiber optic rural broadband networks in the United States that is delivering broadband speeds, both upload and download, up to 1 gigabit per second to over 23,000 rural locations in northern Minnesota.
And here’s what the FCC had to say…
Today, Commissioner Starks announces the honorees of the inaugural Digital Opportunity Equity Recognition (DOER) Program, which was created to acknowledge the tireless efforts of Americans working to close the digital divide in communities without access to affordable, reliable broadband. The program honorees will be recognized at a virtual reception on October 1 at 12pm ET. Commissioner Starks issued the following statement about this year’s DOER honorees:
“It is clear that our long-standing digital divide has morphed into a monstrous new COVID-19 divide. From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic through now, I have heard stories about the innovative and rapid ways individuals, non-profit organizations, and companies are responding
to the connectivity needs of people across this country who are seeking access to medical professionals via telehealth services, education, and safe ways to communicate with family and friends. In response to these efforts, I put out an open call to hear about heroic DOERs who have stepped up in their communities to ensure that no one gets left behind because they lack broadband connectivity. The DOER Program received an overwhelming response to that call
with more than 60 submitted applications, each one impressive and laudable, and demonstrating a true commitment to serving communities through acts of substance and consequence, big and small, generosity and selflessness both during the pandemic and prior to the recent events that have changed our nation.
Because of all of the strong nominations I received, alongside my advisory board, narrowing down the honorees was very challenging. I believe every applicant is worthy of recognition but there were several that rose to the top because of the scope of their accomplishments and the impact they made. From rural areas to urban corridors, students to seniors, to say this year’s DOER honorees are a stellar group is an understatement. ,
Organization, and Corporation. Congratulations to all, and please keep up the hard work.”