Broken Bow to Apply for Rural Broadband Grant through Nebraska Econ. Development

Broken Bow to Apply for Rural Broadband Grant through Nebraska Econ. Development
The Broken Bow City Council met in person for a special meeting on June 4 following previously held teleconference meetings amid COVID-19 DHMs.

BROKEN BOW–During a special meeting held on Thursday, June 4, the Broken Bow City Council met in person at the Municipal Building to approve the Rural Broadband Remote Access Grant Partnership with Great Plains Communications.

President Jacob Holcomb said a program is being offered by the state through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) Fund to put up some money for fiber internet connections into rural Nebraska.

Custer Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) Executive Director Andrew Ambriz expanded on the program saying these federal dollars–which are being allocated by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED)–present a great opportunity to bring broadband and fiber access to the citizens of Broken Bow.

“There’s about $40 million that’s been allocated to assist communities between 1,000 and 5,000 in population in building out the fiber home access with minimum speeds of 50 megabit download and 50 megabit upload,” Amrbiz said.

“As we’ve seen the nature of work change as of recently and especially because of COVID-19, the opportunity to recruit work and jobs to rural areas has proven to be more difficult because that access hasn’t been there to recruit those kinds of companies, those kind of jobs. We see this as a great opportunity to invest this funding that’s coming from the federal government and Great Plains already has such a great presence here in the community,” Ambriz added.

The DED states on its website that “apart from being an indispensable business commodity for the 21 st century, high speed internet enables important opportunities such as remote work, telehealth and education, entertainment, telecommunications and other quality of life amenities that create thriving communities and increase the state’s overall connectivity.”

Ian Taylor with Great Plains Communications said the DED has not approved any communities at this time but is beginning to accept pre-applications for unserved and underserved households and businesses in Nebraska communities with a population between 1,000-5,000(based on the 2018 estimated US Census Bureau data).

Taylor said Great Plains Communications has been building toward a project like this and is excited to partner with the city of Broken Bow. He added the process is not completely outlined at this time but currently there is no cost to the city, Great Plains would absorb one percent cost of the project as stated in the eligibility requirements, and would increase upload speed from 10 megabits to about 50 megabits. There is no information as to whether or not customers could see an increase to their bills if Broken Bow is selected for the project.

Jacob Holcomb made a motion to approve the grant process and Dave Schmidt seconded. The motion was approved and now the next steps include applying for the grant and waiting to see if the DED selects Broken Bow.