Broadband continues to impact rural communities ahead of the new school year |

Broadband continues to impact rural communities ahead of the new school year

Jacklyn Harold
Updated: August 17, 2020 11:02 PM
Created: August 17, 2020 09:51 PM

(ABC 6 News) - In January, the City of Harmony received a $5.4 million dollar grant to help bring high-speed broadband to hundreds of homes in the rural town.

Officials at the Harmony Telephone company said, what they were not expecting was for Coronavirus to sweep through the country just a few months later.

"Due to COVID-19, we have been delayed in getting some of the materials," said Alissa Stelpflug, the customer experience, and sales Supervisor at the Harmony Telephone Company. "But since we haven't been able to start utilizing the reconnect grant yet, we have been able to utilize our MiBroadband services," she added.

Stelpflug said hotspots were created in the spring to help parents and students who were suddenly forced to operate from home. People could go to churches, libraries, or community centers in several surrounding cities to access the internet connection. 

"We have added these hotspots in Harmony, Fountain, Preston, Greenleafton, and Cresco," said Stelpflug.

Now that the new school year is approaching, and broadband remains an issue, Stelpflug said the telephone company has been working with the school district closely to offer resources to those impacted.

"We are trying to work with using our MiBroadband, which is our fixed wireless broadband service to be able to utilize getting some of those customers and those students service," said Stelpflug.

According to her, the school district provided a list of families in under-served areas, and they have since been provided with internet access. 

Stelpflug said it's a small fraction of the families that would have been impacted by the grant money, but the company is still working hard to help as many people as they can. Once the grant is ready to be used, more than 300 households and community buildings will have access to broadband. 

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