Locally owned broadband providers have agreed to help ensure Americans have access to internet service during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

All 15 of North Dakota’s locally-owned independent broadband providers have committed to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s “Keep Americans Connected Pledge.” Joining them are the Broadband Association of North Dakota and Dakota Carrier Network.

The Keep Americans Connected Pledge states: “Given the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on American society, Broadband Association of North Dakota members pledge for the next 60 days to:

1) Not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic;

2) Waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and

3) Open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.”

Those companies serve 96 percent of the State’s geographic territory and are found every North Dakota county.

David Crothers, executive vice president of BAND, said, “Our members are uniquely suited to meet the needs of North Dakotans during the coronavirus pandemic and any other emergency residents in the State may face.

“For over a decade, BAND members have been making the transition from local telephone companies to state-of the-art broadband providers. They now have a 100 percent fiber-to-the-home network. They can deliver 1 Gig to any location within their service territories”, Crothers said.

“Our deep reach into rural North Dakota and ownership of the high-capacity statewide fiber-optic backbone network DCN will ensure that North Dakotans will have the broadband infrastructure necessary to transition to online education, remote work from home and critical government functions,” Crothers said.

The organizations that signed the agreement are: BEK Communications, Turtle Mountain Communications, United Communications, Nemont, Midstate, Griggs County Telecom Co., SRT, Dickey Rural Networks, Dakota Central, NCC, Consolidated Telcom, Red River Communications, West River Telecommunications, North Dakota Telephone Company, RTC, Polar Communications, Dakota Carrier Network and Broadband Association of North Dakota.

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