Santel improvement set to close the rural digital divide

PICTURED at the Big Dig Groundbreaking Ceremony are, left to right: Chris Nelson, Public Utilities Commissioner (PUC); Kristie Fiegen, Chairperson of PUC; Joe Fiala, Governor’s office of Economic Development (GOED); Tiffany Hoffman, Letcher Community Development Foundation; Mark Chada, Mayor of Letcher; Jeff Ebersdorfer, Dakota Heartland Development Association; Richard Alt, President, Santel Communications, Board of Directors; Jerry Jenson, Santel Communications, Board of Directors; Kent Swenson, Santel Communications, Board of Directors; Becky Pitz, Santel Communications, Board of Directors; Bryan Hisel, Executive Director, Mitchell Area Development Council; Ryan Thompson, General Manager, Santel Communications.

Increasing consumer demand, ownership priorities, and board of directors’ vision recently converged, leading Santel Communications Cooperative into the connection fore front. Listening to the patrons, the cooperative board heard the request for better Internet connectivity. With that in mind, Santel’s management team, led by Ryan Thompson, General Manager and CEO, approached the USDA-Rural Utility Services (RUS) and was approved for a loan of up to $24 million to upgrade the cooperative’s network.

Santel, based in Woonsocket, has announced a five-year investment of up to $24 million for a fiber optic network expansion project intended to bridge the gap between rural and urban Internet speeds. Over the next 60 months, Santel will be adding “575” miles of fiber cable capable of handling speeds of up to a Gigabit (1,000 Mbps) for each patron. The new service, FiberMaxx, means Maximum Internet. “Our goal is to connect farms, homes and businesses within our service area to a fiber network able to move data as quickly as any big city in the U.S.,” said Thompson. “We recognize that Internet availability and reliability is now an essential part of everyday life, from education to farming, wellness and healthcare, to entertainment – so much we do relies on speedy downloads and uploads.”

…Read on and see another picture in this week’s issue of the Sanborn Weekly Journal.

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