Paul Bunyan Communications to Expand Broadband Internet Access Thanks to State Grant
Internet access has become an important service to business, industry and daily life as we know it. Now, thanks to a Border-to-Border Broadband Development grant from the state, Paul Bunyan Communications now plans to extend their broadband internet access to additional rural areas in northern Minnesota.
“The state of Minnesota has had the Border to Border grant program in place for, I wanna say five or six years, and what that does is really leverage providers to go to these un-served areas that don’t have high-speed internet access today,” explained Paul Bunyan Communications Marketing Supervisor Brain Bissonette. “And so we were the recipient of one of those grants to expand our network into more areas in Aitkin, St. Louis and Itasca County.”
As a result of this grant, Paul Bunyan Communications is currently developing their expansion plans, and the necessary construction efforts that will need to take place in order reach a minimum of 1,035 locations.
“These plans obviously are very complicated and they take time and a lot of money, and so they need to be laid out well in advance,” said Bissonette. “So the areas that we receive the grant for this year will be constructed in 2024 with services becoming available in the fall of that year, or over the winter in 2025.”
The upcoming expansion project is estimated to cost just over $7 million, with the Border-to-Border grant set to cover just over $3 million.
“Paul Bunyan covers the rest, with the exception of, we do have some townships that have contributed to the project,” explained Bissonette. “It really helps express that their township interest in having this network come to them and helps our application to get the grant.”
Paul Bunyan Communications hopes that this expansion will be beneficial to the locations it plans to serve in the future.
“We’re pretty proud of what we already do, and we’re excited whenever we can get a grant to be able to expand that out to folks who have nothing,” said Bissonette. “All these locations, if you can imagine, are without high quality broadband so, you know, they don’t have the luxury that a lot of us take for granted, being able to surf the internet for whatever we want, to be able to stream video, to be able to work from home, do telehealth, a lot of the applications that, if you have broadband, you’re used to using, these folks are really limited on what they’re able to do, so it’s a big deal.”
According to Paul Bunyan Communications, eight townships in Aitkin, Itasca, and St. Louis counties be provided with broadband fiber optic services through the expansion.
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