Grant to expand broadband access across rural Minnesota

By Robert Williams

Editor, Frazee-Vergas Forum

Arvig and Otter Tail Telecom have been awarded grants from the Minnesota Border-to-Border Broadband program.

Arvig received $1,140,705 to complete a mainline and last-mile project that will reach 171 unserved and 100 underserved households, farms and businesses in the southeastern portion of Otter Tail County near the rural parts of Battle Lake, Henning, Parkers Prairie and Urbank.

The total project cost is $2,851,762 with the county contributing just under $1 million, along with a capital investment from Arvig of $712,940.

“Providing next-generation speeds to rural Minnesotans is a crucial part of our work at Arvig,” said David Arvig, vice president and chief operating officer at Arvig. “Staying connected to family and friends, working from home, running a business, accessing telehealth — these are just a few of the things that projects like this can make possible.”

The funding partnership will allow Arvig to extend its growing fiber network to these structures with internet speeds from 100 Mbps/20 Mbps up to 10 Gbps/1 Gbps, meeting and exceeding Minnesota’s 2026 state speed goal of 100 Mbps/20 Mbps. 

The all fiber-to-the-premise construction will begin as soon as the grant is awarded and will be completed before June, 2025.

Otter Tail Telcom will receive $3,381,661 for its last mile project that will serve a total of 1,186 locations comprised of 495 unserved households; 334 underserved households; 245 unserved businesses, farms, and community anchor institutions; and 112 underserved businesses, farms, and community anchor institutions in the north Fergus Falls area.

In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, Otter Tail County, and 5 townships, Otter Tail Telcom will improve unserved/underserved levels to 1 Gbps download and 1 Gbps upload, exceeding Minnesota’s 2026 state speed goal. 

The total project cost is $8,454,152 with a local match of $5,072,491.

The Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program was created in 2014. The program has been funded with state general fund revenues and a combination of both state general fund revenues and federal American Rescue Pan Act (ARPA) Sec. 604 Capital Projects Funds (CPF). Grant rounds available after 2023 are anticipated to be funded with Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Funds (BEAD).