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Rural telephone co-op receives $6.9 million grant for broadband buildout

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

A co-operative has received a $6.9 million federal grant to build broadband infrastructure in western North Dakota and eastern Montana.

Reservation Telephone Cooperative received the money from the federal ReConnect program.

"This area is just outside our current service area," Reservation Telephone CEO Shane Hart said in an interview.

Hart said it would affect around 500 locations. He said about two thirds are in North Dakota, and a third are in Montana.

"This is going to be the rural Cartwright area, rural parts of Fairview, MT and the other part is really south of Sidney, MT," Hart said. "It's pretty much all rural."

The grants through ReConnect are competitive. Hart said when the grant round came up, the co-op looked at the area to the west of RTC’s territory.

"We saw that it was underserved," Hart said.

Hart said he had some contacts from people iun that area.

"They're neighbors and friends," Hart said. "We knew they needed the service, and we thought this was an opportunity to see if we could help."

Hart said the plan is to deliver telephone, television and high speed Internet service to that area.

"We estimate around 200 miles of fiber-optic cable that we will have to put in, for these 500 customers," Hart said.

And Hart said when the project is complete, Reservation Telephone will be serving 11,000 customers .

The co-op is headquartered in Parshall.

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