Dakota Fiber Initiative rolls on

At its annual meeting held last week in Fargo, the Information Technology Council of North Dakota agreed to champion an initiative to improve the speed and availability of broadband throughout North Dakota.

Known as the Dakota Fiber Initiative, the concept stems from a challenge issued by Doug Burgum during the 2013 State of Technology event held in late August in Fargo. Burgum’s “Vision 2015” called for North Dakota to capitalize on its current economic success by utilizing public/private partnerships to make North Dakota’s Internet speed and bandwidth infrastructure the best in the world by 2015.

ITCND has decided that the challenge fits well with the group’s goal of developing infrastructure to allow affordable access to state-of-the-art voice, video and data service for all North Dakotans and is currently raising money to support a pilot phase of the initiative, focused on downtown Fargo. The group hopes to raise $75,000 to support the pilot project. It will not move ahead on any phase of the initiative until all money needed is in-hand.

ITCND modified Burgum’s initial challenge slightly and set the goal at achieving “world-class” speed and infrastructure, although it has yet to define specific criteria that would qualify the state’s infrastructure as such. Many of the state’s rural areas already have access to high-speed, affordable fiber networks, whereas Fargo’s infrastructure is surprisingly expensive and in need of updating. As part of the Dakota Fiber Initiative, ITCND says it will assess the state’s current supply and demand to better determine where improvements are needed and what costs consumers and businesses are willing to pay.

Read more on the Dakota Fiber Initiative and bandwidth in North Dakota in our December issue.