GRAND FORKS — Bluepeak held a groundbreaking Monday for construction of a new fiber internet network at its warehouse at 702 48th St. South in Grand Forks.
Bluepeak, a fiber-to-the-home provider originating as Vast Broadband in South Dakota, offers high-speed internet and cable television services. Its parent company GI Partners purchased Vast Broadband in February 2021.
Desi Stoops, vice president of market development, said GI Partners liked Bluepeak’s business model but wanted it to expand, so the company has been in “expansion mode” since spring 2021. Bluepeak currently has in-service properties in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Rapid City, South Dakota; and parts of Minnesota. It has Wyoming properties under construction in Cheyenne, Casper, Laramie and Rock Springs.
Stoops said he worked with Mayor Brandon Bochenski and City Administrator Todd Feland, as well as meeting with other city officials in Grand Forks last August, to get the ball rolling. He told them Grand Forks looked like a market fitting what the company is trying to accomplish, which is to service “municipalities that have been ignored.”
Once the City Council granted franchise approval with an agreement to pay the city a 5% franchise fee for all video services, work moved ahead.
“So we’re not just coming and streaming fiber for internet only and not giving back to the community,” Stoops said. “So 5% of all of our video revenue goes back to the community.”
Bluepeak has minimum speeds of 1 GB for uploads and downloads. For residential internet, it offers anywhere from one to five GB speeds, and for commercial it offers two, five and 10 GB speeds.
Stoops said Bluepeak’s goal is to compete with Midco.
“I think we’re basically in the same space doing similar things,” Stoops said. “And so we’re all about enabling the citizens of Grand Forks to have choice and have different flavors of things that they’re wanting to pursue, so we welcome the opportunity to really offer the citizens of Grand Forks a choice in the services that they choose from.”
Stoops also credits the company’s small-town roots as to why its mission became expansion into smaller towns. Bluepeak’s CEO Rich Fish grew up in Superior, Nebraska and Stoops grew up in Perry, Oklahoma. They have worked with each other for more than 30 years.
“When I came on board to join them, we said, ‘The networks that we built in Chicago and L.A. and New York — citizens in the Midwest deserve that same service,” Stoops said. “People in Grand Forks deserve the same service that you can get in New York City. People in Grand Forks deserve the same service that you can get into L.A. and Dallas and any other place. That’s really what drives us to do what we’re doing.”