In the midst of conversations about broadband funding at every level of government, Carver County officials are weighing their options as they move toward their goal of becoming the first county in Minnesota to have fiber broadband accessible to every resident, businesses and organization
For over a decade, the county has been making an effort to expand residents’ access to high-speed internet, said CarverLink Fiber Manager Randy Lehs. The county hopes to become the first in Minnesota to be able to provide fiber broadband to anyone in the county who wants it.
They have been working steadily for years…
The county’s fiber broadband efforts began in 2008 and construction began in 2011 with the help of a federal grant awarded as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The fiber broadband network went live in 2013.
Last August, the county launched its Connect Up Carver initiative to expand its fiber broadband network and help provide high-speed internet to over 2,000 unserved or underserved rural locations. The $10.5 million dollar project was funded by $6.5 million from Carver County and $4 million from Metronet. The project is set for completion by December 2024.
They have plans for the future…
But, there are remaining rural addresses that are not covered by Connect Up Carver. According to Lehs, these addresses are the hardest to reach and therefore the most costly.
The county has worked to facilitate agreements between Metronet and the cities in Carver County for fiber buildouts. Currently, the construction associated with these agreements is complete in Hamburg, Mayer, New Germany, Cologne and Norwood Young America, according to Lehs. Carver is still under construction, and Chanhassen, Watertown and Waconia are to follow. Chaska and Victoria do not currently have agreements for construction.
State and federal initiatives are available to assist people in gaining access to adequate internet speeds including the Broadband Line Extension Connection Program and the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program.
For the county to achieve its goal of becoming the first in Minnesota with 100 percent fiber broadband access, it could cost as much as another $5 million, according to Lehs.
Coincidentally, $5 million is exactly what they can request from a Border to Border grant.