Headlines this morning announced that the Southwest Minnesota Broadband Group has been awarded $12.7 million in USDA stimulus grant and loan funds to expand broadband telecommunications services in Cottonwood and Jackson counties. The Worthington Globe says:
“Broadband, in general, has been one of my top priorities in the stimulus (program),” said [Senator] Klobuchar late Wednesday. “Windom has been a leader in this, but to make it really work you have to hook up with the surrounding area.”
Klobuchar said she met with leaders of the broadband group a few months ago to discuss the need for better service in the communities.
“I’m very glad that this has worked out,” she said. “As a country, we have ensured that every American has access to telephone service and electricity — we must now do the same for broadband Internet access.”
US Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) apparently contacted local media directly on Wednesday 17 Feb 2010. As of 10am 18 Feb, the NTIA’s Broadband USA website had not been updated to reflect any change in status since the City of Windom’s application was passed over by the NTIA BTOP pool. No PR on the Senator’s website either. I am assuming the project is going forward on the USDA Rural Utilities Service Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) program.
The project will expand on a successful Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) project that wired the City of Windom a couple years ago. The new collaborative, with an additional $88,000 in local investment, will drop fiber to over 3,500 potential customers in Wilder, Heron Lake, Okabena, Lakefield, Jackson, Brewster, Round Lake and Bingham Lake, Minnesota. This area has been a big hole in our broadband donut in Southwest Minnesota.
If I recall correctly, service will be coordinated by Windomnet, offering the triple-play of high-speed internet, television and telephone service.
I wish I could say my office or I had anything to do with the project. I’m not trying to claim any credit, just want people to know about how important broadband infrastructure is in rural Minnesota and this really cool example of bootstraps economic development.