AT&T recently announced it has made $80 million in investments into its company's telecommunications coverage, aimed to help “address the digital divide” across the United States.
In addition to their $80 million investment into South Dakota’s cellular infrastructure between 2018-2020 comes $2 billion more over the next three years. The company said it was improve AT&T's speed, reliability and coverage.
Funding is directed toward 5G coverage improvements to Rapid City, as well as areas within Hanson, Kingsbury, Marshall and Sully counties, where the services are already available.
It also includes an expansion in the company’s FirstNet network to cover more parts of South Dakota. FirstNet, which launched in 2012, is AT&T’s public sector network aimed toward improving connectivity for first responders in areas that are currently underserved by existing telecommunications systems.
The company says the service has been used by the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office and the Yankton Sioux Tribal Police in search-and-rescue operations where rough terrain limited cell coverage.
In AT&T's announcement, Gov. Kristi Noem said the investment from AT&T will help South Dakotans stay connected across the state without having to sacrifice their “way of life” in smaller towns and other areas that are currently underserved.
The release did not specify when expansion of services would become available for use by the public.