Posted by: Ann Treacy | January 21, 2013

Would you pay $1000 for inadequte broadband?

Aaron Brown is a writer, speaker and teacher in Northern Minnesota. He writes about life on the Range – for folks outside of Minnesota that’s the Iron Range, know for timber, tourism and Bob Dylan. In some areas, they are now promoting timber, tourism and technology (oh and Bob Dylan) but Aaron’s recent blog post explains why that’s not possible throughout the region.

Aaron is a long time advocate for better broadband in the area. He is speaking from the front lines – both he and his wife make at least part of their living online. Aaron is blunt about the need to get better broadband soon to attract and retain families and younger people to the area if there is to be a future of the area. His post is worth reading – I wanted to whet your appetite with just a few key points…

We pay more than $1,000 a year for our satellite internet and routinely hit our “data cap,” after which our fast speeds are rendered slower than dial up. …

Not all internet is the same. A data plan on a new phone will let you use the internet wherever you have reception. But this “internet” is not broadband; not exactly. You face steep data caps (limits on how much you can do) and translating that service to your computer is prohibitive to many professionals. Further, focusing on phones — apps, videos and music — reinforces the false notion that the web is “just for fun.” The web is the way our economy works!  …

As sure as our ancestors sought abundant natural resources in northern Minnesota, their great-great grandchildren will flee for lack of access to the modern economy. We have had, and missed, opportunities to change this; we will not have many more.

Frankly, those in our communities who continue to reject or dismiss the internet as a part of our future will cause scores of future generations to be raised elsewhere, while our communities wither into the small shells common to once-mighty mining towns.


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