News SKT Awarded Grant to Bring Fiber to Rural Haysville
SKT Service & Plant Manager Todd Dannenberg and Marketing Manager Megan Harper attended the Broadband Acceleration Grant Announcement in McFarland, Kan., on March 11, 2021. Dannenberg is pictured here with a map of the 14 projects to receive funding.
Rural Kansas telecommunications provider SKT will receive state funding to expand its fiber network in rural Haysville as a part of the Broadband Acceleration Grant Program. Governor Laura Kelly made the announcement Thursday, March 11, unveiling a total of 14 broadband improvement projects set to receive funding as a part of the $5 million disbursement in 2021. Grant recipients will match state contributions for a total $10 million investment, improving access to high-speed internet for homes and businesses in 18 communities statewide.
“Rural providers have a longstanding commitment that goes back decades to building, improving and expanding the state’s broadband network. Still, reaching every rural household and community is a monumental task,” said SKT Director of Operations Donna Van Allen. “Working together through public-private partnerships will help bridge the digital divide and make a difference in the lives of rural Kansans.”
SKT will receive a $62,616 grant, making the total anticipated project cost just over $125,000. The locally owned company is headquartered in nearby Clearwater and plans to complete the project in late 2021. Upon completion, residents at 24 addresses near 71st Street and Hoover Road will have access to up to 1 Gbps internet service, along with landline telephone.
“Broadband access has been an overlooked problem in Kansas and across the country for years – but my administration knows it’s a game-changer, particularly for rural and underserved areas of our state,” Governor Kelly said. “These grants use an aggressive timeline to support urgent broadband needs that came to light during the pandemic. We’re committed to ensuring every Kansan has access to the connection they need for telehealth, virtual school, and to ensure businesses can compete in an increasingly digital-focused economy.”
The Broadband Acceleration Grant program was created in 2020 to bring critically needed broadband access to Kansas communities. Funded through the Kansas Department of Transportation’s Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Program (IKE), the Office of Broadband Development administers the program to make more ‘last-mile’ connections possible across the state.
This first year of the 10-year program initiated by Governor Kelly invests $5 million in grants with another $5 million in matching contributions from the awardees, resulting in a $10 million total investment in the community. These projects were selected following a competitive funding round, and all proposed projects were made available for public review. To encourage input, a public comment period was included in the process, ensuring transparency and community feedback in the process of making awards.
“We said we would be aggressive about improving broadband access, and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” David Toland, Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary, said. “This is only the beginning, and the Kelly administration is committed to seeing every Kansan connected. Through this initial round of grants, we are laying a strong foundation to continue to build a robust broadband infrastructure for our state, now and into the future.”
“COVID-19 shined a spotlight on the importance of broadband connectivity as it relates to distance learning, remote work and telehealth services,” Julie Lorenz, Transportation Secretary, said. “It’s critical infrastructure as important as safe roads, bridges and drinking water.”
Applicants, awarded grant amounts, and matching investments are as follows:
EpicTouch Communications | Liberal
Grant & Matching Amount: $594,752
Total Project: $1,189,504
Haviland Broadband | Norwich
Grant & Matching Amount: $87,405
Total Project: $174,810
KwiKom Communications | Altoona, Fredonia, Thayer
Grant & Matching Amount: $331,985
Total Project: $663,970
Moundridge Communications Network | Elyria, Hesston
Grant & Matching Amount: $312,819
Total Project: $625,638
Nex-Tech | Bird City, Atwood, McDonald
Grant & Matching Amount: $875,923
Total Project: $1,751,846
OnePoint Technologies | Bern
Grant & Matching Amount: $255,357
Total Project: $510,714
OnePoint Technologies | Winifred
Grant & Matching Amount: $75,547
Total Project: $151,094
OnePoint Technologies | Blue Rapids
Grant & Matching Amount: $156,202
Total Project: $312,404
OnePoint Technologies | Frankfort
Grant & Matching Amount: $194,375
Total Project: $388,750
S&A Telephone | Americus
Grant & Matching Amount: $100,890
Total Project: $201,780
SC Telcom | Barber County
Grant & Matching Amount: $641,300
Total Project: $1,282,600
SC Telcom | Pratt
Grant & Matching Amount: $805,000
Total Project: $1,610,000
SKT Inc. | Haysville
Grant & Matching Amount: $62,616
Total Project: $125,232
WTC Communications | Zeandale
Grant & Matching Amount: $505,829
Total Project: $1,011,658
“The efficient infrastructure deployments enabled through these grants are vital to making scarce funding dollars stretch as far as possible by building on previous successes in our pandemic response programs,” Director of the Kansas Office of Broadband Development Stanley Adams said. “Governor Kelly recognizes that robust broadband access is necessary for all communities, and I appreciate her commitment to this effort. As a result, many more Kansans will be connected.”
About the Kansas Office of Broadband Development
The Kansas Office of Broadband Development was established in 2020 to help ensure that all Kansans have the opportunity to live, work, learn and compete in a global economy by improving universal access to quality, affordable and reliable broadband. The Office is housed within the Community Development Division of the Kansas Department of Commerce.
About the Kansas Department of Commerce
As the state’s lead economic development agency, the Kansas Department of Commerce strives to empower individuals, businesses and communities to achieve prosperity in Kansas. Commerce accomplishes its mission by developing relationships with corporations, site location consultants and stakeholders in Kansas, the nation and world. Our strong partnerships allow us to help create an environment for existing Kansas businesses to grow and foster an innovative, competitive landscape for new businesses.
Headquartered in Clearwater, Kan., Southern Kansas Telephone Company (SKT) is a family-owned telecommunications provider, serving rural Kansas since 1940. SKT provides broadband, landline telephone and security to 23 communities in seven counties of south central and southeast Kansas, with more than 10,000 customer service touchpoints.