HickoryTech's Enventis begins work on $24M middle mile project

Enventis, the business services unit of independent telco HickoryTech (Nasdaq: HTCO), has broken ground on its $24 million Greater Minnesota Broadband Collaborative Project.

Similar to other middle mile network projects, the new fiber-based network is designed to improve broadband service in rural communities in Minnesota and Wisconsin in addition to providing necessary connectivity to hospitals, libraries, schools and public-safety providers (fire and police).

John Finke, president and chief executive officer of HickoryTech, said that "the project, which will be completed by 2013, will significantly increase our fiber network and enable high-capacity broadband services in greater Minnesota as well as create jobs."

Work on the first phase of the 430-mile fiber network that will extend from northern Minneapolis to Duluth, Minn. and into Superior, Wis., began earlier this month. MP Nexlevel LLC has been tapped to construct the fiber network.  

Set to be completed in 2013, Enventis is leveraging a $16.8 million grant it won last August from the National Telecommunication and Information Administration's (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). Enventis will contribute $7.2 million of its own capital to construct the new network.

For more:
- see the release

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