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Comparing Internet Access In Rural SD To Other States

DELL RAPIDS, S.D. - Good internet access is important for an area's economy. 

However, that can be difficult in rural communities, where telecommunication providers have to install fiber optic lines long distances between customers. 

Here are details on a new report that shows South Dakota is actually ahead of many other states.

Jenn Reecy has helped some big name companies right from her Dell Rapids home. 

"Having the access to internet technologies that we have allows me to partner with people across the globe," Reecy said.

Reecy is the chief learning officer for N2Growth, a management-consulting firm. She relies on high-speed internet to communicate with her clients.

"It's a digital world. Everything takes place online, whether it's Netflix or Amazon or starting a business or doing remote education," Jared McEntaffer with South Dakota Dashboard said.

McEntaffer presented details on a new report, looking at broadband service in rural South Dakota. The state's Telecommunications Association and South Dakota Dashboard released the information.

"One of the surprising things I found was how far ahead of the curve South Dakota is compared to other states," McEntaffer said.

Researchers found that more than 65 percent of association customers in the state have fiber lines. That's compared to around 40 percent nationwide in rural areas.

"2013 to 2017, 5 years, these member companies, which a lot of which are family-owned or co-ops, have deployed $392 million in direct investment," McEntaffer said.

An investment that will likely pay off for small towns in a big way.

"It's vitally important for us to have the access we do, or we couldn't enjoy the quality of life we do living here in the Midwest," Reecy said.

South Dakota Telecommunications Association officials admit there's still work that needs to be done. 

Crews are currently upgrading fiber in a number of South Dakota communities, including Pine Ridge, Martin and Custer.

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