Last week we wrote about the partnership between Long Prairie, Minnesota and the forward-thinking and locally minded local telephone cooperative CTC to build a citywide fiber network and bring affordable, high-speed Internet to everyone in town. Long Prairie isn’t alone, however, among north-central Minnesota communities needing better options. For Ely and Little Falls, CTC has likewise become a natural partner.
Earlier this year in March, the Biden Administration signed the American Rescue Plan Act, which included, among many other things, multiple sources of funds for broadband infrastructure. The U.S. Department of Treasury was tasked with writing the rules of how local governments can spend the various funds. The Interim Rule has been published and it appears to significantly limit local ability to invest in needed networks.
Tired of waiting for connectivity solutions to come to town, one Minnesota community has instead partnered with a local telephone cooperative to build a fiber network reaching every home and business in the city. In embarking on its journey to improve local Internet access six years ago, Long Prairie (pop. 3,300) ended up partnering with one of the most aggressive fiber network builders in the state - Consolidated Telephone Company (CTC) - on a solution that meets local needs. The two finished a ubiquitous Fiber-to-the-Home build in 2018, with the cooperative now owning and operating the network.
Small, western Massachusetts communities have long struggled with poor connectivity, but change seems to be on the horizon for some. The town of Washington (pop. 549) is now on the vanguard of rural communities in the hill towns of the Berkshires that have built out (or are in the process of building out) Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) networks to bring gigabit speeds and affordable connectivity for residents for decades into the future.