Big boost in rural high-speed internet coming to St. Louis, Hubbard, and Itasca Counties

The grant is part of a larger $63 million package going to 4 states
Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 4:58 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - $10 million is coming to three Northern Minnesota counties to help bring internet speeds up to speed.

The Paul Bunyan Rural Telephone Cooperative will receive the $10 million grant to bring internet speeds of 100 Mbps (download and upload) to every location in its proposed service area

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the grant Thursday as part of a larger $63 million investment going to four states: Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, and Mississippi. The funding comes from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in 2021.

“Investing in high-speed internet is a fundamental part of our partnership with rural communities,” Secretary Vilsack said. “Connecting rural Americans with reliable internet brings new and innovative ideas to the rest of our country. Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA is committed to ensuring that the people who make up the rich tapestry in rural areas have every opportunity to succeed – and that people can find those opportunities right at home in their communities.”

The Paul Bunyan Rural Telephone Cooperative will use the money to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network in Minnesota. This will entail installing fiber-optic cables to customers’ locations.

The network will connect 3,529 people, 71 businesses, 35 farms, and two public schools to high-speed internet in Hubbard, Itasca, and St. Louis counties.

The grants come from the third funding round of the ReConnect Program, in which USDA invested a total of $1.7 billion. Since the beginning of the ReConnect program, the Department has invested $3.2 billion to bring high-speed internet access to people in rural communities across the country.