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First broadband customers in Lakefield

LAKEFIELD -- A fiber-to-home project undertaken by Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services (SMBS) became a reality Dec. 7 when two Lakefield residents were connected to SMBS Internet and cable TV services.

The Rev. Andrew Schensted and his wife, Lisa, were the first to be connected. The fiber-to-home connection provides "obnoxiously fast Internet," Andrew Schensted said in a SMBS press release.

The SMBS Internet is "at least 10 times faster" than what they had when living in the metropolitan area, Andrew Schensted added. The couple has been able to streaming video in full HD from TV streaming websites.

Dan Olsen, Windomnet Operations Manager/SMBS General Manager, said that work on the fiber ring has been "fast and furious" since a July 22 groundbreaking took place.

"We are thankful that the Schensteds have agreed to be our trial customer," Olsen said. "They have been asked to use as much data as possible. SMBS is now analyzing the system to see if any adjustments need to be made before additional customers are connected."

Another small group of customers will be connected by the end of December with community-wide installation fully under way in January, Olsen added.

SMBS is also working on a wireless trial that will launch in the Bingham Lake area by the end of December.

"The demand for higher-speed Internet in our rural area is daunting," Olsen said. "People not only want faster speeds, they need it for their business operations. If the wireless trial is successful, it could provide a better option to those not on the fiber system. "

Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services (SMBS) is a consortium of eight communities including Bingham Lake, Brewster, Heron Lake, Jackson, Lakefield, Okabena, Round Lake and Wilder. The 125-mile, $12.8 million dollar fiber ring is expected to be completed in September 2012.

The fiber-optic communication network has the capacity to bring fast, competitively priced services for internet, phone and cable TV to residential subscribers as well as businesses and other community institutions. The government grant-supported project is intended to provide southwest Minnesota with the telecommunications connectivity required to remain competitive in the global marketplace.

For more information on Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services, visit