Midco is ramping up a $500 million fiber network upgrade throughout its Midwest footprint, an advancement executives say will benefit telehealth, education, government operations and remote working.
The cable provider in 2019 announced a goal to upgrade its network to 10-gigabit speed by 2030.
"Now we think we can do it sooner," President/CEO Pat McAdaragh told the Tribune in advance of Thursday's formal announcement. The phased upgrade begins in earnest in 2022, doubling Midco's fiber network to 22,000 miles.
Work in North Dakota will cost about $200 million, beginning with a $100 million first phase in Bismarck, Dickinson and Fargo, lasting about three years.
"Then immediately we'll begin spending the other $100 million and getting to areas we haven't gotten to done yet, so we're looking at more of a six-year process than 10," McAdaragh said.
More than 25 communities, many of them rural, stand to benefit from the upgrade in North Dakota, from Belfield to Buffalo.
"This next advancement by us we feel is generational, once in 25 years, the scale, the scope and cost, and it's going to really benefit both from a business but all aspects of the community," McAdaragh said.
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Midco expects remote work to continue to be an employment trend, sparked by the coronavirus pandemic leading people to work from home.
Education, medicine and government operations are other areas that will benefit from the upgrade, McAdaragh said.
"The pandemic really emphasized two things: It pushed the adoption of technology up by five, six, seven, eight years, and then secondly, it's going to give a lot of opportunity and a lot of investment in new applications that are going to require this type of bandwidth and this type of reliability," he said.
Technology advancements in the cable industry and better costs of fiber optic technology long term were other factors in the upgrade, he said.
Midco is covering the $500 million cost with "all of our own private investment," Director of Corporate Communications Paige Pearson Meyer said.
Midco services 460,000 homes and businesses in six states.
Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.