DPG seeking comment for cable updateA telecommunications company plans to upgrade services in rural areas of Billings, McKenzie and Golden Valley counties this year and the Dakota Prairie Grasslands is seeking comments for the proposal.
A telecommunications company plans to upgrade services in rural areas of Billings, McKenzie and Golden Valley counties this year and the Dakota Prairie Grasslands is seeking comments for the proposal.
Reservation Telephone Cooperative wants to bring fiber optic cable to 136 rural residents in their Squaw Gap service area, some of which sits on National Forest Service Land. Squaw Gap is a rural area close to the Montana border, Watford City and north of Beach, said Kristin Jaeger, marketing manager for RTC.
It will also be updating cable on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, she said.
The plan is to bury the cable next to existing copper line.
“Copper is just sort of thing of the past now,” Jaeger said. “It’s hard to maintain, it’s aged and they’re just not developing as much technology and equipment for that cable anymore.”
The existing cable is deteriorating from age and exposure, according to DPG.
“So by doing this fiber project, more people will have access to broadband and better (Internet) speeds,” Jaeger said. “I know we have customers in that area who have phone trouble a lot just because the phone cable is old, so it would remedy those problems too.”
It would also allow customers to have better TV services, she added.
“We actually plow right up to each home or business and connect them to fiber,” she said. “We were hoping to get it mostly finished this construction season before winter, but a lot will play into that.”
RTC upgraded cable in New Town and Mandaree last year, Jaeger said.
Dennis Karnatz, a resident of Mandaree, said he and his family have noticed a difference in their services.
“It increased our Internet speed a little bit,” Karnatz said.
The bigger impact was to their phone service, he said.
“When you had rain come through, there would be static and we haven’t really noticed it now,” Karnatz said.
The Dakota Prairie Grasslands must decide whether to reissue a special use permit for the installation and maintenance across 37.4 miles of National Forest System land, said Babete R. Anderson, public affairs officer for the USDA Forest Service.
“It’s not just one road or one section, it’s bits and pieces,” Anderson said.
Ditches would be plowed up to lay the fiber, but traffic should not be affected, Jaeger said.
DPG is also conducting an environmental review of the proposal, Anderson said.
“We’ll see if there’s any wildlife impact, we’ll see if there’s any hydrology or water impacts,” she said. “So we always go through that each time we get a proposal.”
RTC applied for and received $21.9 million in federal stimulus grants and loans to fund the Fort Berthold and Squaw Gap projects along with others in their service area, Jaeger said.
Comments should be submitted to RPG by April 5.
Send written comments to: Attn: Debbie Riely, McKenzie Ranger District, 1901 Main St. S., Watford City, ND, 58854. Comments can also be sent electronically to email@example.com.
Those with questions can call Riely at 701-842-2394, ext. 15.