Otter Tail County company receives grant to expand broadband opportunities; Ottertail Telcom receives half a million …
Otter Tail County’s Ottertail Telcom in Battle Lake and the Fergus Falls area was one of 42 benefactors of a state grant to expand broadband internet service as announced this morning by Gov. Mark Dayton and Lt. Gov.
“This expansion of broadband that we are announcing today will level the playing field and expand education, health and job opportunities for thousands of Minnesotans,” Smith said. “It’s not fair when almost 20 percent of Greater Minnesota households don’t have access to opportunity because they don’t have the same broadband connections as their friends and family in the cities.
Otter Tail Telcom received $238,170, with matching funds, to serve households in the Clitherall and Battle Lake areas presently not served. The total eligible project cost is $476,340.
The company also received $270,271 toward a $558,542 project to provide service to underserved households near Elizabeth and in rural Fergus Falls. The projects will improve telecommuting opportunities for workers, among other advantages.
Minnesota’s Border-to-Border Broadband Development Program provides internet providers grants to expand broadband service to areas of Minnesota that are unserved or underserved. The funding pays for up to 50 percent of the cost of developing broadband for improved high-speed internet in communities across the state.
The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband, a nonpartisan group charged with analyzing Minnesota’s broadband needs, recommended $100 million in on-going biennial funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program in its 2016 Annual Report. In 2015, the Task Force determined a total investment of at least $900 million is needed1 to ensure that all Minnesotans have broadband internet regardless of where they live.
Gov. Dayton and Lt. Gov.
Smith secured the $34 million to expand high-speed internet access during the 2016 Legislative Session, after first proposing a $100 million investment.