Paul Bunyan Communications was recently awarded a grant to expand broadband services in northern Minnesota.
The cooperative is expected to begin expansion construction in 2024 for areas of Aitkin, Itasca and St. Louis Counties.
The total project cost is estimated at around $7.6 million, with the grant providing over $3 million with the cooperative and local townships investing $4.58 million.
“We are excited to continue our expansion efforts to provide access to broadband Internet speeds to those without it in our region. 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,” said Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO and General Manager.
“These areas will now not only get broadband access, but they will go from slow satellite or dial-up internet to speeds of up to 10 Gigabits per second and become part of one of the largest rural Gigabit networks in the country.”
The State of Minnesota invested $67.6 million in the Border-to-Border Grant Program in 2022, according to State 3A Representative Rob Ecklund.
“This is huge for our region. Access to quality broadband service is vital to so many different facets of life including health care, education, business, and recreation,” said Ecklund.
Plans for the expansion will be developed over the next year, with the entire project expected to be complete in the summer of 2025.
“We are very excited about this project! This is going to bring symmetrical fiber-optic broadband to very rural locations that desperately need it. This will be a game changer for the residents in these areas.” added Steve Howard, Paul Bunyan Communications Information Technology and Development Manager.
“We are thankful to the leaders of French, Pike, Sandy, and Wuori Townships who are also providing financial support to this project,” said Howard.