When Governor Kristi Noem laid out her vision for South Dakota in her first address to the state legislature in 2019, she issued a challenge to bring sustainable, high-speed internet to every home and business in South Dakota. The legislature responded, approving a $5 million allocation that launched the Connect SD broadband program, a public-private partnership to extend high-speed broadband to all South Dakotans.
In the months that followed, the importance of high-speed broadband access became apparent as an unprecedented global pandemic ushered in a seismic shift in how students attended class and many people worked. High-speed broadband proved itself to be critical infrastructure and our legislators invested greater amounts into broadband in both 2020 and 2021.
Since 2019, between state and federal funding sources and matching industry investment, more than $203.5 million has been invested into broadband. The impact of this investment has resulted in more than 26,000 homes, businesses, farms, and critical access facilities gaining access to high-speed broadband across South Dakota. This opens more opportunities in our rural areas for remote work and critical services like virtual medical care while connecting our farmers and ranchers to important web-based resources to help streamline their operations.