Federated REA applied for USDA funding for FTTH in Martin County

The Fairmont Sentinel reports more on one the Martin County ARPA broadband grants approved last month

JACKSON- Federated Rural Electrical Association (REA) has applied for a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to further develop rural broadband in Martin County. If approved the grant would pave the way for a $35 million expansion which would completely eliminate a lack of broadband access within the county.

The proposed project would provide up to gigabit upload and download speeds for every home and business within the county that currently has download speeds of less than 120 megabits per second and upload speeds of less than 20 megabits per second. Geographically this would cover nearly all of Martin County west of Granada, excluding Fairmont, Sherburn, Trimont, Truman, Welcome and Ceylon. …

The project signifies another step forward for the cooperative in becoming a major internet service provider in south central Minnesota. In 2022 Federated REA purchased Jackson-based Back 40 Wireless and began offering fixed point wireless service. Later that year the co-op began a project to provide fiber optic connections in Ceylon which is already serving a handful of customers in the city. Outside of Martin County Federated REA is planning a similar project to connect most unserved or underserved areas of Jackson County using funding from the state’s Border to Border grant program.

The costs of the project would be split between Federated REA, the USDA and a smaller grant from the Martin County Economic Development Authority’s (EDA) Broadband Partnership, which itself uses federal funds. Overall Federated would cover 46 percent of the project, the USDA would cover 50 percent and the EDA would cover the remaining four percent.

If approved the project is expected to directly connect to 2,352 households and 106 businesses. Most of these connections would be via underground cables but Reimer estimated roughly one third of these would utilize Federated’s existing overhead power lines. Federated’s existing fixed point wireless systems would not be part of this new project.

Federated REA is looking to invest $16 million for a project they predict to serve 5 customers per mile on construction. Predicted fees for customers…

Once the project is completed Reimer predicts rates to be similar to what the cooperative currently offers for fiber connections which range from $70 a month for download speeds of up to 100 MB per second to $100 a month for download speeds of up to 1 gig.

This entry was posted in Conferences, FTTH, Funding, MN, Vendors and tagged by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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