Paul Bunyan Communications awarded State of Minnesota Border to Border Broadband Grant for portions of Central Itasca County
Cooperative will bring Broadband network to over 1,250 locations
Paul Bunyan Communications has been awarded a Border to Border Broadband Grant from the state of Minnesota to expand its fiber optic services to portions of central Itasca County in partnership with the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) and Itasca County.
As a result, the cooperative will begin expansion construction next spring that will pass over 1,250 locations in portions of Balsam Township, Lawrence Township, Nashwauk Township, and the city of Taconite. Final expansion plans that will determine the locations to be passed are expected by early spring.
"This is very exciting news for so many people who are currently without access to broadband in central Itasca County and it is a truly collaborative effort that makes it possible. Our cooperative has a long history of expanding our network to underserved areas but it has become increasingly challenging to go it alone without grant support. The support offered by both IRRRB and Itasca County has been phenomenal.Additionally, the Itasca Economic Development Corporation wasinstrumental in building community support and providing guidancethrough the grant application process. The irony is these areas will not only get Broadband access, they'll go from no real access to becoming a part of one of the largest rural Gigabit networks in the country. Many will go from satellite and dial up to speeds of up to a Gigabit per second," said Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General Manager.
Paul Bunyan Communications expects to finalize the expansion plans by early spring and will contact all locations along the expansion route shortly thereafter. Construction will start in the early summer and will be completed by June 30, 2017. While the general area of the expansion is determined, the specific locations that it will pass will depend upon the final network design. Those in the region interested on keeping up to date on the project can look for updates on the Paul Bunyan website or join the Paul Bunyan Communications Central Itasca Fiber Project Group on Facebook.
"I am really excited about this project and the positive impact it will have on people's lives. Students will have access to educational resources, employees will be able to work from home, seniors will be able to stay in their homes longer with telemedicine, and a rural medical clinic will finally get the connectivity it has needed for years." added Steve Howard, Paul Bunyan Communications Information Technology and Development Manager.
"In addition to the local partnerships we've formed that makes this a reality, no project would have gotten off the ground if it wasn't for the hard work of our elected officials who championed the Border to Border Broadband Grant Program. I want to thank all of them and also the Office of Broadband Development that oversees the program. This is going to make a world of difference in so many ways to a lot of people in central Itasca County!" said Johnson.
All of the cooperative's services will become available once the network is operational including GigaZone service options like unprecedented Broadband Internet speeds of up to 1000 Mbps – a Gigabit, PBTV Fusion and low cost unlimited local and long distance GigaZone voice service. There is no membership fee to join Paul Bunyan Communications, membership is included by subscribing to either local phone service or GigaZone Internet service.
First Hockey Hot Shots Winner since 2012-2013 season
For the first time in nearly two years there was a winner of the Paul Bunyan Communications Hockey Hot Shots Promotion held during BSU Men's Hockey games at the Sanford Center this past weekend.
Hunter Bies made his shot at center ice at the game Saturday, November 14 during the BSU/Alaska-Fairbanks first period intermission. Bies is a junior from Princeton, MN majoring in math and accounting. He is the eighth winner in the contest's five year history but the first since the 2012-13 season.
"It's a challenge to shoot a puck through a small hole from center ice when you only get one shot and are in front of a lot of people. We've had years where four people have won, even one weekend in 2011 when three different people won on the same weekend but it can go in spurts for whatever reason. We're always excited when we do get a winner and Hunter's shot was a no doubter. It went straight into the back of the net," said Brian Bissonette, Paul Bunyan Communications Marketing Supervisor.
The Paul Bunyan Communications Hockey Hot Shots contest is held during the first intermission of each of the Saturday BSU Men's home hockey games during the season. The contest is free to enter and three names are drawn each night the contest is held to take a shot from center ice. All contestants receive a coupon for a free PBTV On Demand movie rental, any contestant hitting the board receives a Paul Bunyan Communications portable charger, and a contestant who puts the puck in the net through the middle of the Hockey Hot Shots board wins a 43" flat screen HDTV.
The next Hockey Hot Shots contest will be held this Saturday, November 21 during the first intermission of the BSU Men's Hockey game versus Lake Superior State.
NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, the premier national association representing nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies, is pleased to announce that Paul Bunyan Communications has been named a winner of the NTCA Smart Rural Community Award.
"We are very proud that NTCA has recognized our efforts with the Smart Rural Community Showcase Award. Our cooperative strives to provide our members and region the very best in communication services that allows for innovation implementation. Our GigaZone initiative to build one of the largest rural Gigabit fiber networks in the United States and our partnership with Greater Bemidji on the technology-rich Mayflower smart building project are just two examples of this. Keeping our communities connected to the very latest in technology is vital to the future of the region," said Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General Manager.
NTCA Smart Rural Community award recipients were recognized at a gathering of more than 1,500 rural telecom leaders in Boston. In addition to receiving national and local recognition for their extraordinary efforts, Paul Bunyan Communications will join recipients of prior year awards to formulate best practices and assist other rural communities in the implementation of innovative broadband-enabled solutions to drive economic and community strength in rural areas throughout the nation.
Paul Bunyan Communications has added two more networks in high definition to PBTV HD service.
TV Land HD is on channel 732 and is available to all PBTV HD subscribers. TV Land airs a combination of recent and classic television series (ranging from the 1960s to the 2000s), original scripted series, and limited theatrically released movies. For more information can be found at www.tvland.com.
Nick Jr HD is on channel 730 and is available to all PBTV HD subscribers who also subscribe to PBTV Extra*. Nick Jr. provides content for younger children between 2 and 6 years old, featuring a mix of originally-produced programming, and series previously and concurrently aired on the "Nick: The Smart Place to Play" block. For more information visit www.nickjr.com.
PBTV Extra is a package of over 40 additional cable networks covering a wide variety of genres including sports, news, music, and entertainment that can be added to PBTV main service for only $9.99 per month.
Over three thousand locations in the northern Grand Rapids Area and another five hundred locations in the Bemidji Area have been upgraded and are now in the GigaZone. In September, over 2,100 locations in the southern Grand Rapids area were included in the GigaZone.
"We continue to make great progress on upgrading our network to incorporate even more member locations into the GigaZone. It's exciting, particularly for those who are included this year, and we will continue to do as much as we can to bring the GigaZone to all our members and communities we serve as fast as we can." said Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General Manager.
The GigaZone is currently available to over 13,600 locations including all of the cooperative's service area of rural Park Rapids, Lake George, Trout Lake Township east of Grand Rapids, most of Grand Rapids, and areas of Bemidji.
Paul Bunyan Communications recently mailed out information to the new locations in the Grand Rapids area that are now in the GigaZone and the cooperative has an online map available showing the active areas of the GigaZone as well as those areas that will be constructed/upgraded during the remainder of 2015. (GigaZone Availability Map)
"Lots of folks are wondering when the GigaZone will reach their location. The online map of the active areas and plans for this year is a great resource for those interested in checking on their specific location." added Brian Bissonette, Paul Bunyan Communications Marketing Supervisor.
GigaZone service options include unprecedented Broadband Internet speeds of up to 1000 Mbps – a Gigabit. Members who subscribe to GigaZone Broadband can also add PBTV Fusion and/or low cost unlimited local and long distance GigaZone voice service. All current service options also remain available to cooperative members within the GigaZone.
Most current wireless routers cannot support blazing GigaZone Internet speeds. To help, the cooperative is offering GigaZone Integrated Wi-Fi that uses the latest in advanced Wi-Fi technologies to maximize the in-home wireless experience. This service is free to all new GigaZone customers for the first six months, with a minimal charge thereafter.
The long wait for access to high speed Internet and cable television services has finally come to an end for hundreds of locations in rural Park Rapids. Paul Bunyan Communications announced today that expansion of its all-fiber optic network is complete in two more regions of rural Park Rapids bringing access to broadband and cable TV services to over 400 more locations. One region is north and west of Two Inlets which includes the Boot Lake area. The other region is to the east of the City of Park Rapids and includes an area from the east side of Long Lake to Big Stony Lake.
Further network expansion construction continues and services are expected to become available over the winter to even more locations currently without broadband in an area east of Park Rapids that includes the following lakes: Sunday, Little Stony, 4th Crow Wing, Island, 3rd Crow Wing, 2nd Crow Wing, Palmer, and most of 1st Crow Wing.
The cooperative started expansion of its all fiber optic network into rural Park Rapids in 2012 and Paul Bunyan Communications now offers all of its services to over 3,100 locations in the region which includes Gigabit Broadband Internet, Paul Bunyan Television, and voice services.
"Access to broadband Internet services enhances life in so many different ways. It opens up e-commerce opportunities, educational, cultural, and recreational resources. It is especially important in rural areas where it can help overcome distance and financial barriers," said Gary Johnson, CEO/GM of Paul Bunyan Communications, "We've seen the difference it can make first hand throughout our service territory and we are proud to bring Broadband access to hundreds more in the Park Rapids area."
"Ironically these new areas of our cooperative have gone from having no Broadband access to having access to the fastest Internet speeds available today as part of the GigaZone. There are very few parts of the country like the Park Rapids area where Gigabit Internet services are available. It's pretty amazing that areas like Boot Lake and Long Lake have Gigabit Internet access before New York City or Washington D.C.," added Brian Bissonette, Paul Bunyan Communications Marketing Supervisor.
Paul Bunyan Communications Named Certified Gig-Capable Provider by NTCA, The Rural Broadband Association
Paul Bunyan Communications was recently recognized by NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, the premier association representing nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America, as a Certified Gig-Capable Provider for delivering gigabit broadband speeds and enabling technological innovation in the Lake George and Park Rapids communities.
As a Certified Gig-Capable Provider, Paul Bunyan Communications joins a national campaign to build awareness and industry recognition of community-based telecom providers that have built communications networks capable of delivering Internet speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, which is 100 times faster than those currently available in many U.S. households.
"I applaud Paul Bunyan Communications for its commitment to delivering the Internet's fastest speeds—an accomplishment worthy of much praise considering the unique and challenging circumstances small, community-based telecommunications providers operate under every day in serving some of our country's most rural and remote communities," said NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield. "By building a gigabit-capable network, Paul Bunyan Communications has not only overcome these challenges, but also shattered conventional benchmarks for broadband speed to enable cutting-edge technologies that drive innovation and promote economic development in their communities, region and nationwide."
To achieve certification, telecommunications companies must show that gigabit technology is currently commercially available within 95% of one or more exchanges within its serving territory and that such service can be provided without new trenching or stringing new aerial facilities. This statement must be confirmed by a letter from an engineering firm or other independent source involved in the company's network planning, deployment or operation.
Thursday, November 26
Offices will be closed in observation of Thanksgiving
Thursday, December 24
Offices will close early at 2 p.m. in observation of Christmas holiday
Friday, December 25
Offices will be closed in observation of Christmas holiday
Saturday, December 26
Offices will be closed in observation of Christmas holiday
Thursday, December 31
Offices will close early at 2 p.m. in observation of New Year's holiday
Friday, January 1
Offices will be closed in observation of New Year's holiday
Saturday, January 2
Offices will be closed in observation of New Year's holiday
Mark your calendars- the Annual Paul Bunyan Communications Holiday Open House will be Friday, December 11 at both our Grand Rapids and Bemidji offices. Stop in from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. for cookies/hot apple cider and pick up the 2015 Paul Bunyan Communications Holiday Ornament, 2016 calendars, and 2016 Minnesota Gold Telephone Directory while supplies last.
Help celebrate the holiday season with your local cooperative, stop in during the Holiday Open House at Paul Bunyan Communications!
Paul Bunyan Communications has mailed out over $2.8 million in capital credits to members. The payouts include the remaining 50% unretired balance from 2001 and 20% capital credits earned in 2014. All subscribers who were a member in either of those years and accrued over $10 total in capital credits should have or will receive a check in the next few days. The use of capital credit allocations are the cooperative's way of individually securing each member's share of the cooperative's net margins.
As a cooperative, Paul Bunyan Communications is owned by the members it serves. Services that apply towards capital credit returns include local phone service, Paul Bunyan Long Distance, Internet service from Paul Bunyan Net, Paul Bunyan Television, and Minnesota Gold Yellow Page Advertising.
"It's the cooperative advantage and a win-win for our members. They get high quality communication services at affordable rates with a high level of customer service and they share in our success," said Brian Bissonette, Paul Bunyan Communications Marketing Supervisor, "the return a member receives is based on their patronage and our profit margin from that particular year."
"It's rare that a customer gets money back from a service provider," added Dave Schultz, Chief Finance Officer, "the cooperative structure allows us to give back to those who make us successful. It is truly providing service at cost."
If you were a member of the cooperative in 2001 and/or 2014 and accrued more than $10 in total capital credit allocations, but do not receive a check by September 26, please contact Paul Bunyan Communications at (218) 444-1234 or (218) 999-1234.
GigaZone Named Most Innovative Gigabit Broadband Service
Paul Bunyan Communications has been named the winner of the Most Innovative Gigabit Broadband Service for its GigaZone project in the Light Reading 2015 Leading Lights awards program. The national award recognizes the communications provider that has launched the most innovative Gigabit Broadband service during the past year. The other finalists for the award were large national or regional corporations including AT&T, C Spire, and TDS Telecom.
The cooperative announced the gigabit project last fall and it will be one of the largest gigabit networks in rural America when the project is done. Already over 7,800 locations in northern Minnesota are in the GigaZone and an estimated 20,000+ will be reached by the end of this year. The project is expected to take a few years but is progressing ahead of schedule. Once completed it will include the cooperative's entire service territory of over 5,000 square miles.
"We are honored to receive this award for our GigaZone project. It is one of the first gigabit network initiatives that will encompass a large rural area and I think that is significant. Many of the gigabit network projects taking place are in small portions of densely populated metropolitan areas. Too often, the more challenging rural America gets overlooked. That's not the case here in northern Minnesota and we are thrilled that Light Reading acknowledged our efforts." said Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General Manager
The Leading Lights program, the telecom industry's most prestigious awards program, focuses on next-generation communications technologies, applications, services, and strategies. The Leading Lights winners were announced at an awards dinner at Chicago's Field Museum on Monday, June 8 to coincide with the Big Telecom Event.
"The volume and quality of the entries we received across our 24 categories shows how seriously the industry takes these awards, which are now in their 11th year," stated Light Reading Editor-in-Chief Ray Le Maistre. "The winners are an exceptional group of companies that have every right to be proud of their achievements and progress during the past year." added Le Maistre.
Judging was conducted by Light Reading's editors and the analyst team from Heavy Reading.