JAMESTOWN, ND, Apr 11, 2012 -- USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager joined local, state and corporate officials here today to announce the completion of the largest fiber-to-the-home network in North America.
“This fiber-to-the-home network presents tremendous job creation and economic development opportunities for businesses and residents throughout North Dakota,” Tonsager said. “Not only do they now have state-of-the art technology, they have access to more customers, resources and information that can help them expand and reach new markets. High-speed internet is an expressway for job creation.”
The substantial investment for this upgraded network covers a 10,000-square-mile region that includes roughly one-seventh of North Dakota. It is 100 percent fiber-to-the home.
Since 1996, USDA Rural Development has awarded more than $95 million in loans to Dakota Central Telecommunications and Dickey Rural Networks to help them develop their service areas and improve broadband infrastructure. Dakota Central also received a $2 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant to provide fiber connections in sparsely populated areas.
“When I was a student at Jamestown College, I was able to start a business because of a high-speed internet connection,” said Jasper Schneider, USDA Rural Development state director. “A fiber connection is highly desirable and can tap the entrepreneurial spirit in all of us.”
By upgrading broadband technology, rural communities become more attractive places to live and work. For example, Red Plum Media, an advertising agency that started as a home business in Jamestown, ND, was able to expand the growing business in 2009 with a USDA Intermediary Relending Program loan to purchase a building. It was vital that the business had access to a broadband connection with unlimited bandwidth. The partnership between USDA and Dakota Central provided a fiber connection that enabled Red Plum to communicate, create and share large data files with customers anywhere.
USDA Rural Development has financed more than $77 million in broadband upgrades in North Dakota through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. For additional information on agency programs, or to locate a USDA Rural Development office, please visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/nd.