Kandiyohi is frustrated with broadband flurries but moving forward where they can

West Central Tribune reports…

Frustrations about broadband boiled over recently during a meeting of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission ‘s joint powers board.

Opportunity seems to be drawing more attention than action…

The EDC is currently working with cooperatives from neighboring counties to build out the broadband network in order to get fiber to homes everywhere. Two major projects the broadband committee was able to secure will have ribbon-cutting ceremonies in December, according to EDC Executive Director Aaron Backman.

The main frustration among members of the EDC joint powers board is that private entities — which have promised in the past to increase broadband access to rural areas and then not followed through — are suddenly commencing projects during a time when government funding is available due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This has created problems with the planning of grant-funded, cooperative projects on which the EDC staff and broadband committee are actively working, and has wasted the time and energy of EDC staff and the broadband committee.

A little background on Kandiyohi might help explain why they are concerned. Back in 2017, they (with CTC) were awarded a Border to Border grant to deploy fiber but in the end, the project never happened. The quick version was that CTC needed community support in the form of subscriptions with a down payment. They didn’t get the support they needed, although it was very close. One factor is that an incumbent provider (TDS) campaigned heavily against the project. They have been frustrated by provider intervention in the past.

Some of the projects are going…

Updating his fellow joint powers board members about the progress of border-to-border broadband in the county, Kandiyohi County Commissioner Rollie Nissen noted there is a lot of activity happening for broadband, especially around Nest Lake in New London.

He also noted that additional broadband projects for Arctander, Mamre and Dovre townships have been submitted to Minnesota’s Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program, which funds the expansion of broadband service to areas of Minnesota that are unserved or underserved.

Some are not…

Another project the broadband committee had been working on that was all ready to go was in Lake Andrew and Norway Lake townships. That work turned out to have been wasted effort with the announcement of a project by TDS.

“TDS came along with a plan and kind of blew that apart, I’ll put it that way,” Nissen said, noting TDS had put out a news release regarding that project.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s