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May 15, 2019
This paid piece is sponsored by SDN Communications.
Rural telecommunications companies in South Dakota have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years to upgrade their communications infrastructure.
A 2018 study, “Connecting South Dakota’s Future: A Report on the Deployment & Impact of Rural Broadband,” points out that 18 companies that belong to the South Dakota Telecommunications Association invested almost $392 million in capital improvements from 2013 to 2017.
The report also notes that as of 2017, fiber optic lines served more than 65 percent of SDTA member companies’ customers at their homes or businesses. In contrast, a national survey in 2016 found that just more than 40 percent of rural companies’ customers were served by fiber.
Reliable, high-speed internet has become critical to the success of business and commerce everywhere. It’s also highly important to education, public safety and, yes, personal entertainment. So it’s encouraging to see small, rural internet providers in South Dakota continue to upgrade their services.
The latest example is South Dakota is the Beresford Municipal Telephone Company, or BMTC.
BMTC will invest about $5 million over the next year to significantly upgrade connectivity for the internet and phone services that it provides.
Approximately 70 miles of copper wiring will be replaced with state-of-the-art fiber, which will bring world-class internet speeds and reliability to business and residential customers throughout the community. Construction is scheduled to begin this fall and is expected to take about a year to complete.
Beresford is a community of more than 2,200 residents that is poised for growth. The upgrade in communications infrastructure will help things along.
“This is really a game changer for us,” Mayor Nathan Anderson said. “Fiber is really going to help us to recruit and retain people to come, live, work, play and spend in Beresford. It’s potentially going to open new opportunities not just for residents but also for businesses.”
The community has simply outgrown the level of service that its good but outdated network can provide, said Todd Hansen, general manager of BMTC.
“Our copper infrastructure has supported our many services over the years, but fiber optic cable improves speed, provides stability and will increase bandwidth. Fiber will also give us the ability to support future technologies,” Hansen said.
The fiber-to-the-premise project will provide residential as well as business customers access to internet speeds of up to a gigabit. A gigabit of service offers far more data-moving capability than any consumer presently needs, according to experts. But no one knows what future advancements in technology might bring.
Rich Coit, executive director of the SDTA, said it’s nice to see another rural telecom in South Dakota committing to infrastructure improvements that will help customers keep up with evolving communications needs.
“I think that’s a great thing for the city of Beresford to upgrade to fiber. Giving themselves more robust broadband infrastructure is very critical to employers in the community and will be incredibly important to all consumers, whether business or residential,” Coit said.
BMTC is different from most of the small, independent telecommunications companies and cooperatives in South Dakota because it is a city-owned service.
BMTC belongs to the SDTA, which advocates for the state’s rural broadband providers. It is also a member-owner of Sioux Falls-based SDN Communications, which provides the fiber connectivity that links Beresford to the region and beyond.
Todd Hansen, general manager, considers BMTC’s affiliation with SDN and 16 other SDN member companies in South Dakota a competitive advantage. BMTC’s coming fiber network will strengthen the community system even more.
As companies developed new technologies in recent years, customers increasingly have requested faster internet speeds, and BMTC has responded, BMTC officials said. In March, the Beresford City Council approved plans to upgrade the community’s network.
The upgrade will bring service in Beresford up to a level that will compare favorably with what’s available anywhere.
Images submitted by BMTC.
“This is really a game changer for us.” Here’s some exciting news for Beresford, which is about to get high-speed internet thanks to a big investment.