IONA — By the end of the year, about 100 Iona households, farms, businesses and community facilities should have access to broadband internet.

The primary internet service for the community, Lismore Cooperative Telephone Company, received a border-to-border broadband grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) in the amount of $732,831 to expand the fiber network. Lismore Coop will provide $512,667 in matching funds, and Murray County is contributing $100,000.

To date, Iona customers have had wireless internet, Lismore Coop General Manager Bill Loonan explained. However, with so many folks on the wireless network, bandwidth is limited, and speeds average about 25 megabytes per second (mbps).

According to Loonan, customers have been asking for speeds of at least 50 mbps. With broadband, the state expects to offer up to one gigabyte per second — about 400 times faster than current speeds.

With grant money in hand, Loonan said, Lismore Coop has hired Finley Engineering of Slayton to do staking — the process of measuring what size fiber is needed — along the area where broadband will be installed. After that's complete, Lismore Coop will put the project out for bids. Work is expected to begin this summer.

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"We're hoping by the end of this year, everybody is hooked up," Loonan said.