Broadband Access Expands In Rural South Dakota

BROOKINGS, S.D. – South Dakota has a low population density.

Actually, three quarters of South Dakota is rural.  Sometimes rural communities miss out on the latest tech, but according to a new report, it turns out South Dakota is doing well.

Welcome to Jennifer Reecy’s office. There’s always work to be done online.

“I’m able to utilize the cloud technology, to be able to share files, to be able to run video chats,” said Reecy.

Like many of us, Reecy telecommutes from home. She says reliable internet access is crucial for her day-to-day business.

“We have the technology that we do which offers the ability to live and enjoy the quality of life that we do in the Midwest and still be able to serve the client needs across the globe,” said Reecy.

Half of South Dakotans live in a town of less than 50,000 people, like Reecy. These communities face challenges, but a new report on the deployment and impact of rural broadband says its becoming more accessible.

“We think that life here is remote or maybe behind the times but when it comes to fiber deployment, the work that’s being done in this room stands out,” said Dr. Jared McEntaffer of South Dakota Dashboard.

Many rural South Dakotans get their internet via fiber optic lines – plastic fibers about the size of a human hair. The report indicates that fibers can deliver potentially unlimited broadband.  

Internet access is a game changer for industries like education. SDTA says it served 402 schools last year, and now 94 percent of them get their internet through these fibers.

Rural internet providers agree that no matter where you live, the future is digital.

“I love rural South Dakota because you guys invest in South Dakota,” said Kristie Fiegen of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission. “You live there, your families live there, and you’re preparing for the next generation.”

According to the report, it costs an average of $16,000 to install one mile of fibers in rural South Dakota.

 

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