Bismarck-based Dakota Carrier Network (DCN) LLC has been awarded a $19.7 million “Middle Mile” grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to help extend broadband internet service to communities across North Dakota.
Gov. Doug Burgum wrote a letter last September to the NTIA in support of DCN’s grant application, noting the project will provide much-needed expansion and sustainability of the broadband backbone that serves North Dakota’s rural communities, schools, health institutions and businesses, while reducing the costs of the upgrades to customers.
“Having reliable, high-speed connectivity is critical in a rural state like North Dakota with long distances between communities and population centers,” Burgum said. “We’re grateful to the NTIA for awarding Dakota Carrier Network this Middle Mile grant, which will make North Dakota’s already robust broadband network even stronger to support telehealth, online education options, remote work, expanded market access for businesses and more. North Dakota continues to prove itself as a national leader in emerging technologies, and this grant will help ensure the resiliency of our internet as technology demands continue to grow.”
The NTIA’s Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program was created and funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and provides $1 billion in federal funding for the construction, improvement or acquisition of middle mile infrastructure. The purpose of the grant program is to expand and extend middle mile infrastructure to reduce the cost of connecting areas that are unserved or underserved to the internet backbone.
The DCN project will add middle mile fiber routes to facilitate additional redundancy, resiliency and survivability of the network, while also upgrading electronics to support increased network demand.
By expanding DCN’s fiber optic backbone and increasing the network capacity, all North Dakotans benefit,” said Seth Arndorfer, CEO of DCN. “According to a recent FCC report, North Dakota leads the nation in access to gigabit internet access. This network upgrade will ensure North Dakota continues to lead the nation, giving our citizens access to the most advanced terabit connectivity, and will further North Dakota’s position in emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, precision ag and autonomy.”