FARGO – North Dakota leads the nation in high-speed fiber optic access to the Internet, according to a report released Monday.

“We have made it a priority to deploy a high-speed Internet network throughout the state,” said Jasper Schneider, acting administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rural utilities service. “As a result, North Dakota is once again leading the way and has a plan for statewide coverage.”

Schneider and other officials working on broadband development in North Dakota gathered in Fargo on Monday to unveil a report highlighting the fact many homes and businesses in the state now have access to fiber optic cable, viewed by many as the fastest and most reliable way of linking to the Internet.

The 15 telecommunications companies that make up the Dakota Carrier Network have put 40,000 miles of fiber optics in the ground, bringing high-speed broadband capability to every corner of the state, said Seth Arndorfer, CEO of the Dakota Carrier Network.

“Our network is bringing gigabit-capable broadband services to hundreds of business locations,” he said.

The report shows that the Dakota Carrier Network invested $100 million per year for the past decade into fiber optic infrastructure.

The network was one of several entities sponsoring development of the report. Other groups were: USDA Rural Development, the North Dakota Association of Telecommunications Cooperatives, and a number of local telecommunications companies.

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