Posted by: Ann Treacy | January 24, 2013

Mobile Revolution in Minnesota – is it enough for entrepreneurs?

The Duluth News Tribune this week ran an article promoting wireless access in Minnesota…

This month at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, once again, mobile innovation took center stage as we marveled at the latest gadgets and apps changing our lives. Yet some of the most profound mobile-fueled transformation is happening in Minnesota, far from “Sin City,” thanks in no small part to the wireless revolution. There has never been a better time to live and work in rural America.

The author, Diane Smith, also presented at the November Minnesota Broadband Task Force; you can see her presentation on wireless on the earlier post about that meeting. She is an entrepreneur from Montana and is on the board of MobileFuture.

She makes the case that local businesses can be managed from wireless connections…

Wireless technologies allow Americans to create jobs from ideas that can strike at any time. With 1.3 million Minnesotans using their wireless devices to access the Internet, local entrepreneurs can manage their businesses and act on creative inspirations without delay from the palms of their hands.

And that wireless is reaching remote areas…

We are preparing to compete with the world in the connected future. Wireless providers are building advanced networks that connect even the most remote communities. Over the past 10 years, these companies have invested more than $23 billion annually in U.S. mobile infrastructure. Today there are nearly 300,000 cell towers, up 11 percent over 2011. Not to mention the leap from 600 cell sites just 17 years ago.

I’ve said in the past, I think wireless is definitely an integral part of providing better broadband to all areas in Minnesota – but I have to admit that I would have a difficult time running my business from a wireless connection exclusively. First, I’ve been known to hit data caps in a matter of hours. (I upgraded my MiFi subscription twice during the Broadband conference in Duluth because as I reached new data caps. Luckily I happened to reach the end of a payment period during the last day of the conference. So I could start anew.) And the idea of running my business from my palm, which I assume means a smartphone is also difficult. Heck it would take me twice as long to type out this blog post on my phone as on my laptop.

Now there are times wireless saves my business life – being able to get online while in the car (not driving) allows me to literally work on the road, wireless at the swim meet means I see the five minutes my kid is in the water and get work done the other three hours of the meet, scanning receipts with my phone saves time and hassles. So again I get that wireless is integral to the solution – but will wireless alone prepare us to compete to the connected future?


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