Beresford, South Dakota (pop. 2,000), has a long history of providing for itself. Located in the southeast corner of the state, Beresford operates its own electric utility as well as a municipal liquor store and golf course. For nearly 90 years, the city has also provided communications services to the community with the Beresford Municipal Telephone Company (BMTC), which currently offers DSL connectivity to residents and businesses.
In response to subscriber requests for faster speeds, BMTC recently decided to replace its old copper lines with a fully fiber optic network. The Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) upgrade will improve the network’s capacity and reliability, and city officials are optimistic about the potential benefits of better connectivity. “This is really a game changer for us,” said Beresford Mayor Nathan Anderson in a press release announcing the project.
Over the next year, BMTC will deploy 70 miles of fiber to replace its current network. The new FTTH network will be capable of gigabit speeds, which over ten times faster than what BMTC can offer now.
“Our copper infrastructure has supported our many services over the years,” explained BMTC General Manager Todd Hansen, “but fiber optic cable improves speed, provides stability and will increase bandwidth.”
City officials believe the new fiber network will help the community grow. “Fiber is really going to help us to recruit and retain people to come, live, work, play and spend in Beresford,” Mayor Anderson said. “It’s potentially going to open new opportunities not just for residents but also for businesses.”
Beresford plans to spend approximately $5 million building the new network. At a March city council meeting, council members decided to commit $2.5 million to the project. The city expects to finance the remaining costs by issuing bonds.
BMTC will start construction on the FTTH upgrade in the fall.
Fiber: Coming to a City Near You
While national broadband monopolies have repeatedly failed to invest in necessary upgrades, community owned broadband networks across the country have been deploying fiber to replace out-of-date copper and cable lines.
In Iowa for example, several cities have decided to upgrade their municipal cable networks to fiber, including Muscatine, Coon Rapids, Spencer, and Harlan. Rural telephone cooperatives, such as 3 Rivers Communications in nearby Montana, are also replacing their old DSL networks in favor of high-quality, reliable fiber.