Federal Money in Hand, Internet Provider to Begin Installing Gigabit-Speed Internet in Rural South Dakota

Santel's $24 million plan will bring "fiber to the farm" of up to 2,000 rural households.

(TNS) — LETCHER, S.D. — Santel Communications has kicked off its big investment in fiber-optic Internet in one of its smallest towns.

The rural telephone and Internet provider cooperative on Thursday marked the start of a five-year, $24 million investment effort into a number of communities in the Mitchell, S.D., area with a special event in Letcher, as the need for faster connections climbs by the day.

The project calls for replacing copper lines with fiber optic to homes — affectionately known as "fiber to the farm" — and increasing the ability to bring faster Internet to rural farms and small towns. The upgrades will reach about 2,000 households in Santel's service area and be phased in over that five-year timeline. Construction will begin in August near Letcher. The first round of work will likely be complete in early 2019.

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