Paul Bunyan Communications receives $10 million grant to expand broadband services
Paul Bunyan Communications has been awarded a $10 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to expand its fiber optic broadband services to portions of Hubbard, Itasca and St. Louis Counties.
BEMIDJI — Paul Bunyan Communications has been awarded a $10 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to expand its fiber optic broadband services to portions of Hubbard, Itasca and St. Louis Counties.
The USDA grant will cover about 75% of the expansion costs with the cooperative investing the remainder to expand its all-fiber optic to approximately 3,500 locations in rural Hubbard, Itasca and St. Louis Counties that currently lack effective broadband service.
“We are excited to continue our expansion efforts to provide access to broadband Internet speeds to those without it in our region," said Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General Manager. "Our cooperative has a long history of expanding our network to underserved areas but it has become increasingly challenging to go it alone without grant support.
These areas will now not only get broadband access, but they will also go from slow satellite or dial-up Internet to speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second, Johnson added.
Paul Bunyan Communications expects to develop the expansion plans over the next year and will contact locations along the upcoming expansion routes once those plans are finalized.
“We are very excited about this project. This is going to bring symmetrical fiber-optic broadband to very rural locations that desperately need it," added Steve Howard, Paul Bunyan Communications information technology and development manager. "This will be a game changer for the residents in these areas. We are thankful to the USDA and our elected federal officials who have supported the broadband grant program."