More info on the Paul Bunyan Telephone grants in Aitkin, Itasca, and St. Louis counties…
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 Ball Bluff, Bearville, Cornish, French, Pike, Sandy, Verdon and Wuori Townships in Aitkin, Itasca and St Louis Counties.
As a result, the cooperative is expected to begin expansion construction to these areas in 2024. This all-fiber optic project will pass a minimum of 1,035 locations. The project is estimated to cost $7.63 million, with the State of Minnesota Border to Border grant contributing $3.05 million and Paul Bunyan Communications and local townships investing $4.58 million.
“This is huge for our region. Access to quality broadband service is vital to so many different facets of life including health care, education, business, and recreation. It is why I co-authored the bill to fund the Border-to-Border Grant Program in 2022 which resulted in a record $67.6 million investment. I applaud all those involved with supporting the effort to secure this grant so we can keep our rural communities thriving and vibrant.” said current State 3A Representative Rob Ecklund.
“We are excited to continue our expansion efforts to provide access to broadband Internet speeds to those without it in our region. 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. These areas will now not only get Broadband access, they will go from slow satellite or dial up Internet to speeds of up to a 10 Gigabits per second and become part of one of the largest rural Gigabit networks in the country,” said Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General Manager.
Paul Bunyan Communications expects to develop the expansion plans over the next year and will contact locations along the upcoming expansion routes in spring of 2024. The entire project will be completed by June 30, 2025.
“We are very excited about this project! This is going to bring symmetrical fiber-optic broadband to very rural locations that desperately need it. This will be a game changer for the residents in these areas.” added Steve Howard, Paul Bunyan Communications Information Technology and Development Manager. “We are thankful to the leaders of French, Pike, Sandy, and Wuori Townships who are also providing financial support to this project,” said Howard.
“I salute the hard work of our elected officials who championed the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program and thank 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 right here in northern Minnesota!” said Johnson.
Cooperative’s services will become available once the network is operational including GigaZone™, service options like unprecedented Broadband Internet speeds of up to 10 Gigabits per second 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.
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