TechND championed the initiative given its infrastructure development goal of working for affordable access to state-of-the-art voice, video and data service for all North Dakotans. In addition, TechND is a statewide entity that represents both the supply and demand side of the broadband issue. TechND, in cooperation with private and public sector stakeholders, launched the Dakota Fiber Initiative in October 2013 to ensure the state remains at the top of the nation in broadband availability, speed and affordability.
At the onset of the initiative, we knew North Dakota had significant bandwidth coverage across the state. However, initial discussions pointed to the issues of inadequate speed, affordability of adequate speed, and assurance that capacity can meet future demands. Both broadband supply and demand data existed, but there was a need to compile the existing information, identify gaps in coverage, and address affordability issues.
Since the Dakota Fiber Initiative kicked off, numerous telecommunications providers have announced rollout of gigabit services to their constituents within the next several years, which will provide North Dakota with a competitive edge. Benefits of this broadband connectivity include the ability for businesses to compete globally, schools to provide distance learning opportunities, remote health care consultations to occur, and personal connections to be enhanced.