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Boulder Junction broadband project begins construction

Story By Morgan Johnson
Local News Published 05/13/2021 4:07PM, Last Updated 05/13/2021 5:36PM
Boulder Junction - The Coontail Market and outdoor sports store serves almost everything one could need when they make a stop in Boulder Junction.

With locations in Boulder Junction and Arbor Vitae, co-owner Steve Coon must make sure both are running smoothly.

"The one in Arbor Vitae needs to communicate with the one in Boulder Junction, and that's one of our largest issues, is speed between the two," said Coon.

Because of Boulder Junction's sparse and unreliable broadband connection, problems arise.

"It's a situation where we have many many outages per year," said Coon. "When we do have outages, we end up switching to cellular backup in the grocery store."

So when one store has a problem, the other one feels it, too.

Things will soon change though, and Coontail won't have to rely on an unstable network anymore, thanks to a project that first came up in 2017.

"This is a gamechanger for Boulder Junction in so many ways." said Bill Niemuth, who serves on the Boulder Junction High Speed broadband Committee.

Niemuth recalls a 2017 survey asking Boulder Junction residents what they thought was holding back the town economically. The most common answer? Poor broadband connection.

"Our broadband here throughout the town is fair to poor," said Niemuth.

The new project aims to give every living unit—that's homes and businesses in Boulder Junction, high speed connection.

Niemuth says after the project is completed, all living units that request the new provider will have broadband that meets or exceeds all urban areas.

Phase one includes construction that started a few weeks ago.

Niemuth expects 745 units to receive the high speed broadband by the end of the year, and the project is expected to wrap up late 2022.

"It's going to be really interesting to see Boulder Junction in five years because now it provides the opportunity for Boulder to market itself as a high speed broadband destination, and that's going to transform the community," said Niemuth.

Niemuth says high speed broadband will bring remote workers to the area, and of course seasonal visitors, who will likely make a stop at Coontail.

Coon will keep running his stores until this fall when he will begin the transition to the new network.

"It's a wonderful thing for Boulder Junction," said Coon. "I don't think there's any reason to be against this project; it's all positive."
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