Governor visits rural communities where fiber connection is making a difference

Governor visits rural communities where fiber connection is making a difference
Todd Foje, chief executive officer of Great Plains Communications, left, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and Mary Ridder Nebraska Public Service Commissioner, listen to residents and business members of Gordon. RRN/Guzman
May 7th, 2021 | Chabella Guzman

In the upper reaches of Nebraska, broadband can be hard to get, but in Gordon, the community has seen its broadband updated to internet fiber, a broadband connection that can reach speeds of up to 940 Megabits per second.

Great Plains Communications has been upgrading the fiber and on May 3, invited Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts to visit the Gordon and Crieghton facilities. Ricketts heard from members of the communities and how high-speed broadband impacted their lives in positive ways. 

“This (fiber) is going to allow companies to hire people around the country and expand markets to attract people to the Midwest,” Ricketts said. 

The upgrades done by Great Plains Communications (GPC) have created opportunities for Gordon’s residents and businesses. Open Range Beef, an organic beef processor has seen its business grow with better internet. The business processes about 1,000 head a week, something Trent Kling, director of operations at Open Range Beef said, wouldn’t be possible without the faster internet.

“As far as production goes there were various pieces of equipment we were able to install that needed to utilize high-speed internet and took us to the next step in processing,” he said. 

The equipment was sometimes as simple as packaging but could be as complicated as x-ray machines to analyze fat and lean content on the cow. 

“You know the business would have been restricted greatly, we wouldn’t have been able to take that next step to grow,” Kling said. “Our processing would have been capped at about half of what it is now.”

Open Range Beef would have also had trouble moving its product and keeping in touch with its customers.

Great Plains Communications serves about 90 communities throughout Nebraska with a variety of telecommunication services with the internet being the most popular service they offer.

The company was able to expand fiber to Gordon, with funding from the Remote Access Rural Broadband Grant program, administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, made possible by the federal CARES Act. 

With the town of Gordon having a fiber connection, GPC will be reaching out even further to rural residents. 

“There’s a program the Public Service Commission of Nebraska oversees called the Nebraska Universal Fund and we partner with that program in addition to adding our own money to build out into the rural areas,” said Todd Foje, CO of Great Plains Communications. 

Each year, he added, the engineers at GPC look at where to go next and how to extend a little further. It varies but each year they go further and further.

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