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Survey to determine possible 2014 broadband expansion

By Anna Erickson

More rural Hubbard County residents are receiving access to high speed Internet as Paul Bunyan Communications continues its expansion into the area.

Brian Bissonette, marketing supervisor for Paul Bunyan Communications in Bemidji, said the 2013 expansion has been progressing quickly.

The 2013 expansion project encompasses more than 1,500 potential locations.

Construction is complete and services are available in the following lake areas: Two Inlets, Big Sand, Lower Bottle, Ida, Loon, NW Boulder and South Little Sand. Construction will be completed within the next few weeks in many areas north of Highway 34 to the east and west of County Road 4 including areas around the following lakes: Pickerel, Island, South Eagle, Potato and Blue.

Construction has not started yet in the area south of Itasca State Park on U.S. Highway 71 including the area of Little Mantrap Lake.

The Park Rapids Enterprise first reported on the story in September of 2011 when Paul Bunyan received a $17 million interest loan to begin construction.

However, in November of that year, the FCC made dramatic changes to the regulations concerning rural telephone service providers that prevented the cooperative from expanding as far or as fast as they had originally anticipated.

Until Paul Bunyan’s recent expansion, most people who lived in the areas in the expansion had access to dial-up or satellite service, which isn’t as reliable in many cases.

Paul Bunyan Communications is currently surveying rural areas to the northwest, west, south, and east of the city of Park Rapids to determine where there is enough interest to expand the all-fiber optic network in 2014.

The 2014 expansion survey includes over 1,300 locations stretching from the Boot and Portage Lake areas northwest of the city of Park Rapids, Blueberry Bridge Drive to the south, as far west as Co Rd 125, and as far east as 3rd Crow Wing Lake/Island Lake. This survey area does not include the city of Park Rapids, Fish Hook Lake or Long Lake.

The area being surveyed includes some or all of the locations near the following lakes: Peysenke, Big Stony, 4th Crow Wing, 3rd Crow Wing, 2nd Crow Wing, Duck, Hinds, Moran, Lord, Brush, Boot and Portage.

People who have not received a survey or would like to find out if their location is in the 2014 survey area can contact Paul Bunyan at 888-586-3100.

Specific areas of expansion will be determined in May/June of 2014.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561