The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board reports in their e-newsletter…
Bois Forte Band of Chippewa is constructing a fiber-to-the-home buildout to bring high speed broadband to its reservation. The original project began three years ago and included about 440 homes within the reservation boundaries. Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation supported the initial project with a $579,272 Broadband Infrastructure grant. Other funding partners included Shakopee Mdewakanton Community ($600,000) and Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development ($1,158,545).
Bois Forte recently received a $19.8 million grant from National Telecommunications and Information Administrations (NTIA) Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. The funding will enable Bois Forte to continue its commitment to broadband and build out reservation areas surrounding Lake Vermilion, city of Orr and Pelican Lake, connecting an additional 3,200 homes.
When both projects are complete, a combined total of more than 3,600 homes, numerous businesses and several community facilities will be connected.
Consolidated Telephone Company (CTC) will oversee the project design, engineering and construction of 375 miles of new fiber optic cable. In its assessment process, CTC concluded that 98% of the locations within the project area are unserved meaning they lack broadband speeds of less than 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload. When the project is complete, the locations will have access to speeds of over 1 Gigabit per second.
“Bois Forte is continually working to improve the economic viability and quality of life for our bandmembers,” said Bois Forte Information Technology Director Randy Long. “Broadband service is one of the key areas we are focusing on. Currently, it is the largest barrier limiting us from competing and attracting jobs within the reservation area. It will also help our families be better connected to schools, medical facilities and cultural activities.”
Bois Forte Band of Chippewa (also referred to as Ojibwe) is a sovereign, federally recognized Native American Tribal Nation whose people have lived in northeastern Minnesota for centuries. Their reservation land is located within the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation service area. In addition to the residential homes, there are approximately 25 businesses that are either tribal government-owned or privately-owned.
Email Whitney Ridlon for Broadband Infrastructure grant information, or call her at 218-735-3004.