The internet desert in South Dakota

KELOLAND.com Original

FILE- In this June 19, 2018, file photo a router and internet switch are displayed in East Derry, N.H. Net neutrality traces back to an engineering maxim called the “end-to-end principle,” a self-regulating network that put control in the hands of end users rather than a central authority. Traditional cable-TV services, for instance, required special equipment and controlled what channels are shown on TV. With an end-to-end network like the internet, the types of equipment, apps, articles and video services permitted are limited only to imagination. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Many South Dakotans are struggling to connect to the internet. 26,000 people have no access to wired services, according to BROADBANDNOW.

In a KELOLAND.com Original on Wednesday, we looked at the State of Internet in South Dakota. A few viewers got back to us to explain their connection struggles.

“We are very concerned that rural connectivity is such a problem that it has hurt and will continue to hurt South Dakota economic business development,” Lincoln County resident Betty Otten said.

Otten lives near Tea and only has one choice for internet – SpeedConnect. The top speed is 10 MBPS and according to Otten, service is often spotty.

“We and many other South Dakota customers were completely without internet from last Friday and finally reconnected late this past Monday evening from Brookings to Yankton,” she said.

Her concern is for people who want to work from home or start-ups who want to build a business in a rural setting and don’t have reliable internet to do it.

The spotty connection also impacts her family.

“The worst part is that my husband is a state Senator and there are times we’ve actually had to drive to Tea and sit in a business parking lot to send a critical email so we definitely understand the need for reliable internet,” Otten said.

Craig Randen is in a similar situation. He also lives near Tea and doesn’t have internet service at his house. He used to have SpeedConnect.

“They couldn’t establish a good enough connection to their towers to provide reliable service,” Randen said.

He said his other options are satellite services, which are often bundled with satellite TV packages.

“Their offers have a very limited monthly data plan that would be used up after watching one or two movies from Amazon or Netflix,” Randen said.

Randen says he lives 250 feet from a county road and has seen Midco utility markets. However, when he contacted the company – they quote $6,000 to run service to his house.

According to BROADBAND NOW, 200 people have access to one or no wired internet providers.

“I am not looking for a service level to be able to do online gaming and things like that,” Raden said. “I just want to be able to browse the internet, watch a movie, read the news, use Amazon.”

Debbie Bumpous lives just north of Bath, SD, a few miles from Aberdeen. They recently were upgraded from 10 MBPS for $100 per month to 25 MBPS for $45.

“That speed is reduced during peak usage times, making it difficult to do much in the evenings,” Bumpous said.

She is thankful the Noem administration is working on the Connect South Dakota grant program.

“(South Dakota) still has a ways to go to get equitable access for everyone,” Bumpous said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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