Old to Some, New to Others –  Minnesota Reservation gets Fiber-optic Network

Old to Some, New to Others –  Minnesota Reservation gets Fiber-optic Network

The Internet is getting faster and faster- the fastest being fiber-optics. Internet via fiber is the new standard in the high-speed internet market.

We live in a day where the internet at home and on your phone is commonplace but, even still, there are cities, countries, and regions that don’t have that luxury. All the major cities are reaping the benefit of their location and population when it comes to good internet access. Now, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa can consider themselves part of the minority of the world with fiber-optic speed internet.

The Fond du Lac Band (FLB) of Lake Superior Chippewa is an area East of Duluth, Minnesota that about 120-sq-miles in size- massive. And thanks to $8 million dollars in broadband funding they will soon be equally connected to the world.  The greater percentage of the funding came from Community Connect grants from the US Department of Rural Development.

If you are reading this and you don’t consider this a big deal you are, most likely, not from a super small (population wise) town. The director of FLB’s planning division told govtech.com that receiving the fiber is, “kind of like back in the ’20s and ’30s when telephone service and electricity were starting get to rural areas of the United States.” Now, when was the last time you heard a comparison like that to a new piece of technology or gov’t initiative? Probably never.

This is going to be big, better yet, HUUUUUGE!!!

The fiber-optic system is expected to have over 160 miles of the main line plus about 78 miles for household connections. One benefit that the big cities don’t have is the competitive pricing. The most popular fiber internet out right now is Google Fiber which will cost a user a minimum of $70/month. With the assistance of the funding and the planning division, a user rate structure was created that would keep the costs down.

The internet makes the world seem so small for its users; so, I have no doubt that this technology will make an impact on community engagement in this rural area. The people will be able to connect with one another and their local government through platforms like social media, GIS, web-based meeting applications, and information disseminating applications.

That said, I encourage everyone to not take the “normal technology” for granted. The Internet, even fiber-optic internet, is old news for some of us, but to the Fond du Lac Band it’s a brand new engagement tool.

Yours in Service,

Eric Marsh, MPA@UNC
→ Stay up to date with their progress on their website ←-

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