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First International Bank growing with Dakota Carrier Network services

Barb Pfeifer, Dakota Carrier Network
COURTESY PHOTOS
First International Bank & Trust, and its chief operating and strategy officer, Michael Toy (left inset) rely on the team at Dakota Carrier Network (right inset Barb Pfeifer, DCN ethernet/IP technician) to deliver powerful, reliable network technology services to its multiple locations.  

As First International Bank & Trust has expanded its locations in recent years, Dakota Carrier Network (DCN) has been a key partner in providing the technology connectivity the bank network requires.

First International is a North Dakota-based banking business, which has an historic link to a bank in Arnegard in 1910, assuming its current identity after opening a bank in Watford City in 1934. Throughout its history, First International has been owned by the Stenehjem family. Today, First International operates 20 banks in North Dakota, three in Minnesota and three in Arizona.

DCN – a relatively new business in comparison to First International – is celebrating its 20th anniversary in the broadband network and information technology business in North Dakota. Created in 1996, DCN is owned by 15 independent telecommunications companies representing 85 percent of all telephone exchanges in North Dakota and more than 90 percent of the state’s total surface area. These companies serve more than 164,000 customers in approximately 250 communities, and currently have more than 40,000 miles of fiber optic cable in service.

Michael Toy, chief operating and strategy officer for First International, indicates that DCN has been dependably providing the technology linkages critical to the collective success of the bank’s network.

“We draw on DCN for all of our network connectivity, from the wide area network perspective,” Toy says. At first, DCN helped link parts of the First International network together, leading up to the fully connected network of banks today, he says. DCN typically partners with one of its local telecom company affiliates, such as RTC serving Watford City, so local connections, linked to wide area connections, are assured.

Toy says First International is pleased and impressed with DCN’s willingness to expand its level of service to keep upgrading the connectivity speeds and capacities which benefit First International. An indication of the growth mode for DCN is the current data center expansion at its Network Operations Center in north Bismarck. Approved by DCN’s owner companies last August, the 30,000-square-foot expansion project is currently under construction and is expected to be complete by early 2017.

“This expansion is being built in response to customers’ continuing demand for secure and reliable information technology solutions and services,” says DCN CEO Seth Arndorfer.

The expanded data center will be built to the same fort-like specifications as DCN’s current data centers in Bismarck and Fargo. The building will be a carrier-grade hardened facility able to withstand F4 tornado-force winds, backed by a 1-megawatt generator and battery plant having an N+1 uninterruptible power supply. DCN’s data center expansion will provide customers with additional capacity to house their business critical applications, ensuring 99.999 percent network uptime to customers, including critical health care, public safety, state government and financial institutions in North Dakota.

For Toy and the First International team, information technology needs continue to grow in their business and they appreciate that DCN responds so well to them.

“In recent years, we have gone anywhere from 10 to 50 times faster with the data movement speeds than what we had a few years ago,” Toy says. Increased data traffic, complex phone systems, advanced video conferencing, and imaging and scanning practices all contribute to their need for a much larger, and always reliable, information technology system.

“Our needs have risen and we have been able to grow with DCN,” Toy says.