Ladies of Another View 08.15.23

7 months ago
61

Carissa Swenson, Executive Director of the Broadband Association of North Dakota (BAND), joins the Ladies to discuss the evolution and significance of broadband internet in North Dakota, leading-edge technology that’s keeping North Dakotans connected.

Swenson begins by defining broadband as a superlative form of internet service, representing the apex of connectivity. She proudly emphasizes North Dakota's leadership in rolling out fiber optic internet to vast portions of the state, a feat that outshines many other regions in the U.S.

A unique aspect of North Dakota's broadband expansion is the vital role played by smaller, independently-owned providers and member-owned cooperatives. According to Swenson, the state has been at the forefront of broadband provision for years, largely due to these BAND cooperatives and independent entities. These organizations are driven by immense state pride and a genuine desire to uplift their communities rather than pure profit.

The investment focus, Swenson highlights, has predominantly been on the underserved rural areas of North Dakota. When consumer fiber optic technology emerged two decades ago, these community-centric cooperatives saw the value and proactively invested in the future, ensuring that even the remotest parts of the state were not left behind.

Contrasting this, Swenson notes the approach of larger internet providers, which prioritize urban, revenue-rich areas. Yet, the dedicated BAND providers are persistently seeking federal and state funding opportunities to ensure universal connectivity. She cites a recent triumph in this endeavor: the sanctioning of grants to fund a massive $120 million fiber broadband project in Eastern North Dakota. This project, undertaken by companies like Halstad Telephone Company, MLGC, Polar Communications, Red River Communications, and BEK Communications Cooperative, will considerably boost connectivity in the state.

In conclusion, Carissa Swenson underscores the resilience and forward-thinking of North Dakota's independent broadband providers, painting a hopeful picture for the state's digital future.

<h2>TAKEAWAYS</h2>

- North Dakota's broadband expansion has been uniquely driven by smaller, independently-owned providers and member-owned cooperatives. These BAND entities prioritize community upliftment over profit, leading to a focus on connecting underserved small-town and rural areas.
- From the advent of consumer fiber optic technology 20 years ago, these North Dakota cooperatives have consistently invested in cutting-edge internet technology. Their forward-thinking approach positions the state as a leader in fiber optic connectivity.
- Despite the impressive strides made, not all North Dakotans have reliable internet. However, with the recent approval of grants funding a $120 million fiber broadband project in Eastern North Dakota, there's significant momentum to ensure universal connectivity across the state.

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