Enventis Launches $24M Rural Broadband Project

Enventis said that its new fiber-optic network will expand high-speed Internet access in rural parts of the state-allowing for economic development opportunities, increased adoption of telemedicine, and better connections to state and local government offices.

Enventis, a subsidiary of Mankato-based HickoryTech Corporation, on Tuesday announced that its $24 million project aimed at expanding broadband access in rural Minnesota is underway.

The project, which Enventis calls the Greater Minnesota Broadband Collaborative Project, will extend the company's fiber-optic network and improve high-speed Internet access-which will help connect health care facilities, schools, libraries, and other entities in rural communities, the company said.

Enventis received a $16.8 million grant for the project last fall under the National Telecommunication and Information Administration's Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The company broke ground on the fiber network earlier this month in northern Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin, and it plans to build 430 miles of the network-and contribute $7.2 million in addition to the grant money-during the next two years.

“The project, which will be completed by 2013, will significantly increase our fiber network and enable high-capacity broadband services in greater Minnesota as well as create jobs,” John Finke, president CEO of HickoryTech, said in a statement.

Maple Lake-based MP Nexlevel, LLC, was awarded the construction contract for the fiber network.

HickoryTech is one of Minnesota's 70 largest public companies based on its 2009 fiscal-year revenue, which totaled $139.1 million. The company reported revenue of $162.2 million for its most recent fiscal year.

Enventis provides IP-based voice and data solutions, communication systems, and data center and other services to businesses across a five-state region.