Broadband Coming To Southwest South Dakota With Government's Help
Dewey and Burdock aren’t so much towns as they are placemarks amid the sprawling grasslands of southwestern South Dakota.
Yet even the ranches scattered around those two map dots will soon have high-speed internet.
Denny Law, general manager and CEO of Golden West Telecommunications, announced the project Tuesday.
“When you start talking about the ability to deliver fiber-optic broadband service in a Dewey or a Burdock, and what that will mean for the quality of life for someone who lives in that location," Law said, "quite frankly, I think it’s a game-changer.”
Golden West is receiving a $1.7 million grant to help with the $2.3 million project. The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's ReConnect Program.
Golden West, headquartered in Wall, will use the money to replace a slower copper network with fiber optic-cable. The cooperative estimates the new service will be at least 25 times faster.
The project covers a 400-square mile area of southwest South Dakota and northeast Wyoming. It will serve 218 people, including five businesses and 65 farms or ranches.
Ag Department State Director Julie Gross said the project is a perfect fit for a ReConnect grant. The program targets rural areas with slow or non-existent internet.
“Golden West is using USDA funding to reach what we call the ‘last mile’ – the homes and businesses that were left out of other broadband deployment in the past," Gross said.
Congress created the ReConnect program in 2018. Since then, the program has granted more than $20 million to projects in South Dakota.
Nationwide, the program spent $698 million on a first round of projects. For the ongoing second round of projects, the Ag Department received 172 applications seeking a total of $1.57 billion.
-Seth Tupper is SDPB's business and economic development reporter.