Polar Communications will expand its broadband network this spring
TPark River-based company uses combination of $ 21.2 million loans and grants from United States Agriculture The ministry’s ReConnect program to provide broadband technology to rural households and businesses in North Dakota. The funding was announced in January 2020 during the first round of the USDA ReConnect pilot program.
Also during this round, Daktel Communications, of Jamestown, received a grant of $ 1.8 million to provide broadband service to approximately 400 households and three educational institutions located in an area of 354 square miles.
The ReConnect pilot program provides federal funding and funding to accelerate the deployment of broadband in rural areas with poor Internet service. The legal definition of iSufficient access is 10 megabits per second downstream and 1 megabit per second upstream, according to the USDA.
Polar Communications customers will be able to choose packages that offer broadband speeds ranging from 50 megabits symmetrical to one gigabit, said Karl Blake, CEO of Polar Communications. If customers want high speed, the company has the capacity to provide up to 10 gigabits, he said. Broadband will provide customers with high-speed access to a variety of services, including telemedicine, e-commerce and video streaming.
In 2020, the Park River-based company laid cables in Walsh County and part of western Grand Forks County for 859 customers. Broadband service to 134 of those customers is up and running and the rest will be connected this spring, Blake said.
When the ground thaws, Polar Communications will lay an additional 500 miles of fiber optic cable in eastern Grand Forks County. The company hopes the cable will be in place by the freeze.
The broadband provided by Polar Communications through the ReConnect program is expected to reach more than 2,000 homes, six education centers, one healthcare center and a critical community in Grand Forks and Walsh counties.
The coronavirus pandemic, which has seen people working from home and students attending school virtually, has underscored the importance of high-speed internet, Blake said.
“It’s a good thing for Polar, but it’s even more important for customers to be able to benefit from this service,” he said.
In December 2019, former USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that the agency would make an additional $ 550 million in ReConnect funding available for grants, up to $ 200 million for 50 loan combinations. / 50 and up to $ 200 million for low interest loans during the second cycle of the Reconnect program.
The Department of Agriculture announced in October 2020 that Reservation Telephone Cooperative had received a $ 6.9 million ReConnect grant to build a fiber optic network. The network will allow individuals, businesses, a school and a fire station to access high-speed internet in McKenzie County in North Dakota and in Dawson, Richland and Wibaux counties in Montana.