$43 million announced for broadband in NE Minn.by Bob Kelleher, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — An ambitious plan to connect police and other critical service providers by broadband across northeast Minnesota is getting more than $43 million in federal funding.
A telecommunications cooperative in Mountain Iron, Minn. will use the loans and grants to install fiber optic broadband service across all or part of eight northeastern Minnesota counties.
Lyle MacVey, director of information technology for Northeast Service Cooperative, said the project will connect critical service agencies like schools, law enforcement and health care providers.
The 915-mile system can also serve as the backbone for a more extensive network, but won't connect directly to homes and businesses, he said.
"This particular project does not provide any funding for last-mile service support," MacVey said. "However, we have a lot of inquiries coming in from both incumbents and prospective carriers that we see are going to serve those areas."
MacVey says the system will rely on other carriers to extend networks to end-users like homes and businesses. The system, when in place, can prevent breaks in critical services like 911, a situation that happened several weeks ago along Lake Superior's North Shore.
Another project, the Minnesota Valley Television Improvement Corp. in Granite Falls, Minn. is getting more than $1 million for wireless expansion.