Gardonville gets $1.5 million to bring fast internet to the Carlos area

CARLOS Gardonville Cooperative Telephone Association will provide Internet to hundreds of homes and businesses in Carlos and the Buckskin neighborhood after beating out competitors for a state grant.

The Brandon-based telecommunications provider will receive just over $1.5 million from the Minnesota Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program.

It was among 15 companies awarded a total of $36.2 million to extend high-speed broadband to 10,464 households, businesses and institutions across Minnesota. Eight companies also received nearly $30 million through a separate program, the Low-Density Pilot Program Awards, to deliver high-speed broadband to 2,672 homes in sparsely populated corners of the state.

Arvig-Tekstar and Spectrum-Charter also applied for the border-to-border grant to provide services to the Carlos and Buckskin areas.

Dave Wolf, CEO and general manager of Gardonville, said he believes his company won the grant because of its history of reaching all homes and businesses in a project area.

“Our grant applications include everything from easily built neighborhoods to rural farms with a long driveway,” she said. “Some locations are much more difficult to build and reach. We don’t skip those locations because we believe everyone in our service area should enjoy the benefits of fiber broadband.”

Gardonville is now installing fiber optics near Garfield, Evansville, Brandon and Millerville, he said.

“Once that’s done, we will build the Nelson area and hopefully we may actually start the Carlos and Buckskin grant areas this fall,” he said.

He said Gardonville would soon catch up with residents in those grant areas.

“It’s a no-brainer for property owners,” he said. “A fiber-optic connected home is more marketable and has a higher value because of the work-from-home, remote learning, telehealth, and entertainment options you can’t enjoy without a robust high-speed Internet connection.

The Buckskin project will provide 214 households, home businesses, and telecommuters with fiber-optic Internet speeds of up to 1 gigabyte per second and upload and download speeds that exceed Minnesota’s 2026 state speed goal. The grant amount is $ 857.013, with the company investing just over $1 million of its own funds.

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Gardonville was awarded a Minnesota Border-to-Border grant to provide fiber-optic Internet to homes and businesses in the Carlos area. (Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development)

In Carlos, Gardonville was awarded $665,950 to upload and download 1 gigabyte per second to 122 households, businesses, home businesses and telecommuters. The company will also invest $813,934.

“This project will improve the quality of life for these Douglas County residents for years to come,” Gardonville says on its website.

The Border-to-Border Grant Program was created by the Minnesota Legislature in 2014 as a way to get Internet service providers to bring high-speed Internet service to parts of Minnesota that had none, or only slow or expensive options .

Funding is coming from the state general fund and the federal American Rescue Plan Act, and more money is on the way. The 2023 Legislature earmarked $50 million for 2024 and 2025. Plans to distribute that funding are still under development.

Karen Tolkkinen

Reporter Karen Tolkkinen grew up in Plymouth, Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in journalism in 1994. Driven by curiosity and a desire to learn about the United States, Karen Tolkkinen has covered local news from Idaho to New Hampshire to ‘Alabama and landing at Echo Press in Alexandria in 2017.

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