Broadband in the north woods

I’m on vacation in Detroit Lakes. It’s raining but I don’t mind as we’re staying at a resort where they entertain your kids. It’s called Fair Hills, which I think is Minnesotan for – “just like the resort in Dirty Dancing.”

Also I don’t mind the rain because they have wifi. In fact if they didn’t have wifi, I wouldn’t be able to come for a week. I like to think that I’m too important to skip email for a week. That’s probably not true but I would not relax thinking of the work piling up back home.

So in my vacation mode I enjoyed a recent article by Geoff Daily in App Rising (Connectivity Bad For Business?). In it Geoff talks to the cable director in Portland who recounted a story of a community in a remote area of Vancouver Island. The community had voted down a plan for broadband because they thought it would be bad for business. Apparently if vacationers are online it ups the odds of them going home early for an emergency.

I thought it was an interesting twist. I work with about half a dozen resorts in Minnesota. I think all but one has added wifi in the last couple of years. Maybe the demographics of guests is different in more remote areas – but I can tell you that just about everyone here has asked about connectivity – since I’m the really outdoorsy looking mom at the pool covered in sun screen, a giant sun hat and my laptop.

I’m not saying either slant is right or wrong. I remember listening to a radio program from Grand Marais where Danna Asche McKenzie (a big broadband proponent) noted that they had to consider the perspective of folks in that area who preferred remote to connected. It’s interestng.

This entry was posted in economic development, Policy, Rural, Wireless by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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