The Iron Range Resources & rehabilitation enewsetter, The Ranger, reports…
Consolidated Telephone Company (CTC) is expanding its broadband fiber optic network to approximately 500 unserved or underserved homes, businesses and community institutions within the Cuyuna Lakes area. All locations will have a minimum service of 250mbps download and upload, with service of 1Gbps download and upload available. Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation supported the project with a $742,850 Broadband Infrastructure grant to CTC. The total project investment is over $5.7 million.
“The existing communications infrastructure throughout the Cuyuna Range is outdated and does not meet the needs and demands of families, schools or businesses,” said Joe Buttweiler, CTC’s chief strategy officer. “This became very apparent with the onset of the pandemic and during the past three years when education, health care and the overall economy became incredibly reliant on broadband.”
The three largest employers in the area are Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, Crosby-Ironton School District and Graphic Packaging International. They represent industries that have come to depend on fast, reliable broadband for daily operations as well as providing online services such as telehealth and distance learning.
Buttweiler explained that access to broadband is as imperative today as electricity was 75 years ago. A reliable fiber optic network is the backbone necessary to provide rural residents, businesses, schools, community centers, remote workers, farmers and visitors with access to the benefits of unlimited bandwidth, cost efficiency and reliability. Residents in the Cuyuna Lakes service area do not currently have access to quality or affordable internet service for everyday needs and essential services.
CTC’s network infrastructure is anticipated to evolve into the future. The newly serviced locations from the project will have the capability to be upgraded and grow with CTC as it works toward broadband services of 2, 5 or even 10Gb.
Other project partners include the State of Minnesota’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)-CV Broadband Grant, Crow Wing County and CTC.
CTC is a member-owned cooperative established in 1952 and based in Brainerd, with additional offices in Baxter and Crosby. It has 16,000 residential and business members and 75 employees that serve as local support teams across northern Minnesota. It originated as a telephone service provider and has since added television and internet services for homes, businesses, cabins and apartment buildings throughout the state.
Email Whitney Ridlon for Broadband Infrastructure grant information, or call her at 218-735-3004.