USDA Rural Development State Director Maxine Moul and staff were in Hartington, Nebraska today, to see how Hartelco, aka Hartington Telecommunications Co., Inc., an RUS borrower since 1956, used a $5.265 million USDA loan to replace copper cable with fiber optic cable to deploy Fiber-to-the-Home technology to serve customers with a future-proof telecommunications system. Hartelco was presented a plaque from Moul for their use of the RUS program to bring top grade telecommunications to northeast Nebraska. The company has had previous RUS loans totaling more than $7.4 million for the early stages of fiber deployment which began in 2006.
The new system required replacing rural connections to each home, farm, and business with fiber cables and installing new optical interfaces at each subscriber location. A large number of digital loop carrier (DLC) sites are retired or converted into optical nodes, increasing system reliability due to a reduction in grid-powered sites.
An enclosed, environmentally-clean, fiber-splicing trailer was on hand to demonstrate to the USDA staff the fusing together of two strands of fiber cable capable of delivering up to one gigabyte of data. A tour of the fiber facilities within the Hartelco office was also given.
“With the completion of the fiber deployment, everyone with our service will be able to be take advantage of the extremely high speeds available,” said Hartelco General Manager, Bill Dendinger. “This provides the opportunity for all users to utilize the fiber to expand personal and business growth.”
Dendinger continued, “We can easily offer speeds of 100Mbps with faster speeds available as demands increase. Fiber optic cables enable data and voice to literally travel at the speed of light. We’ve found that if a connection seems slow, an issue is usually found within low-grade consumer electronics within our customer’s homes.”
“Broadband offers rural communities greater access to educational, health care, business and social services and opens the door to increased global competition,” said Moul.
The presentation and tour was part of the Northeast Nebraska Stronger Economies Together (SET) meeting held at the Hartington Country Club. Members attended the activities.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension is taking the lead and initiating the SET Process in Northeast Nebraska. Representatives of the 17 county region will create a Regional Plan that identifies evidence-based economic development opportunities. The purpose of the plan is to create an economic niche for the entire Region to build and grow.
Stronger Economies Together (SET) represents an exciting initiative launched in 2009 by USDA Rural Development in collaboration with the four Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs) and their land-grant university partners. The purpose of SET is to strengthen the capacity of communities/counties in rural America to work together in developing and implementing an economic development blueprint that strategically builds on the current and emerging economic strengths of their region.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.