Santel delivering high-speed internet to 900 rural Davison, Beadle homes


WOONSOCKET — Santel Communications Cooperative will expand high-speed internet access to 900 homes and farms near rural Huron and Mitchell in 2021, thanks to a state grant.

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development announced Tuesday that Santel was among the 24 grants awarded to South Dakota telecom companies to fund broadband projects. It will receive $8 million for infrastructure improvements critical to expanding internet access.

These areas have had little to no access to broadband internet which is defined by the Federal Communications Commission as 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds. Santel’s basic service starts at ten times that with symmetrical 250 by 250 Mbps speeds. Streaming, gaming and remote work can all take place simultaneously. It’s a game changer for rural families.

“Our cooperative appreciates Governor Kristi Noem’s recognition and support of rural broadband being critical infrastructure now,” said Santel Communications General Manager Ryan Thompson. “It is not always easy to think beyond a quick fix, but to her credit, her administration is investing in fiber optics to the home on this and many other projects, which is the best investment for future-proofing technology. We look forward to providing fast and reliable broadband to rural homes and farms, doing our part to close digital divides and improving overall rural viability.”

In February, $25 million in CARES Act funding was designated for broadband projects. Additionally, South Dakota legislators approved $75 million in one-time state funding to complete connecting almost all homes in the state to high-speed broadband.

The benefits of broadband infrastructure expansion will extend far into the future and provide more economic opportunity to the region, Thompson said.

Santel, which is based in Woonsocket, serves about 4,000 customers. In addition to Woonsocket, the co-op serves the communities of Alpena, Artesian, Ethan, Forestburg, Letcher, Mount Vernon, Parkston, Tripp, and Wolsey, as well as rural areas around Huron and Mitchell. The company has 36 employees.

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