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Middle Mile Fiber Project Almost Done

Updated: 03/25/2014 3:57 PM
Created: 03/25/2014 3:46 PM WDIO.com
By: Renee Passal

So many places in the Northland are benefiting from high speed broadband, brought by the Middle Mile Fiber Project.

Spearheaded by the Northeast Service Cooperative, the project is more than 915 miles of fiber optic cable, that has linked places like St. Luke's, the Virginia Schools, and the city of Duluth offices with high speed internet services.

"We have about 30-35 sites left to connect this construction season," said project coordinator Jeanette Mellesmoen. "We hope to add more in the future. I believe we'll be benefiting even more families in rural areas in the coming years."

The project spans 8 counties in the Northland.

John Klarich, superintendent of Mt. Iron-Buhl schools, said that they've been hooked up for about two years.

"The speed is indescribable. There is instant learning. We have options we've never had before," he explained. Now that the students are using iPads, the speed is especially important. "Our old system wouldn't have supported that."

Jon Loeffen is the Inside Plant Manager for the project, and showed us inside one of their main hubs at the Northeast Service Cooperative. "Think of fiber optic as kind of like a rainbow. We capture the light coming in off the different colors, and split those colors off into services for people." 

It's different than other providers because it has a variety of back-up measures in place, including batteries to make sure there is always power.

A combination of federal grant and loan are paying for the installation of the fiber optic. Users pay a monthly fee.

The Northeast Service Cooperative recently received the Brian L. Talbott Award for distinguished contribution in the area of technological innovation and support to local school districts. They were the only ones, out of 552 others across the nation. The award was given out in Texas, from the Association of Educational Service Agencies.

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