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Telecom company wins waiver of fees by state Railroad Board

PIERRE -- Midstate Communications can run fiber along part of a state railroad line for free in order to reach a remote residence at Chamberlain.

Midstate faced an application fee of $175 and an annual access fee of about $750, but the state Railroad Board granted a waiver.

General manager Mark Benton and Greg Dean from the South Dakota Telecommunications Association made the request Wednesday.

Benton said there wouldn't be sufficient revenue from the customer if the company had to pay the $750 every year.

Dean said Internet service has come to be seen by many in the public as a right.

The state board normally receives 50 cents per linear foot for utility access on state railroad property.

The residence is on Chamberlain's far east side in the Prospect Avenue neighborhood.

Board member Jerry Cope of Rapid City asked whether Midstate would be able to proceed if the $175 application fee was charged.

In reply, Benton acknowledged there are processing costs for the state Department of Transportation.

But other board members quickly called for waiving all fees and the vote was unanimous.