Minnesota residents living in some of the state’s most remote, rural regions are elated as work crews are currently busy trenching the countryside for installation of fiber optic cable. At last, folks on the back roads of Kittson, Roseau and Marshall Counties will have access to high-speed Internet.
To date, the only option for Internet access have been primitive dial-up connections or various wireless services which are expensive and quirky, and limit the amount of data one can transfer from month to month.
Wiring remote rural Minnesota is made possible thanks to the $862 billion federal stimulus package passed by Congress in 2009. That fiber optic cable is being installed here almost three after passage of the stimulus is testament to the many delays, roadblocks and pitfalls that have sometimes hampered stimulus projects – but people in northern Minnesota are just happy this day has finally come.
The coming of high speed Internet to rural areas has been compared to the electrification of the countryside made possible by the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, a Great Depression Era stimulus project which transformed rural America.
Work in Kittson County is being conducted under the auspices of Wikstrom Telephone Company, or Wiktel.
“The residents and businesses of this region … have a thirst and economic need for broadband services that is just as strong as those in the big cities … we will build one of the nation’s most advanced broadband networks across our region, providing our subscribers with superior broadband services, and our community with an extraordinary foundation for economic development,” Wiktel plant manager Alan Lundeen said in a press release issued by Calix, a communications equipment supplier partnering on the project.
One of the primary reasons for delays of projects like these has been a global shortage because of high demand for fiber optic cable. As locations all over the world race to get connected, manufacturers of optic cable have been unable to keep up with demand.
The cable being laid in Kittson County is manufactured by Superior Essex, a company with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, and Ft. Wayne, Indiana, but owned by LS Cable & System, LTD., a South Korean company based in Anyang – showing the global reach and implications of stimulus projects which create local jobs, but ripple across national and international boundaries.
Minnesota received $200 million in federal stimulus funds for 18 Internet fiber optic projects across the state.
Whatever the case, local residents can’t wait to plug into lightning-fast Internet speeds that will enable many residents to watch videos, download movies and partake in live Web-based events for the first time from rural locations. They may have to wait several more months, however, before each home is installed with the proper connection equipment, and the entire system goes online.
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