Advice on broadband for Minnesota Legislators

A couple of weeks ago we invited readers to send comments and advice for legislators who will be looking at broadband issues in the Senate – tomorrow! We wanted to share what we received. If you have any comments, please feel free to post them as a blog comment to add to this list.

Also I just got notice that the House hearing details have been set too:  

  • FRIDAY, February 12, 2010 – 8:30 AM
    Room: 10 State Office Building
    Chair: Rep. Sheldon Johnson
    Agenda: Federal Broadband Stimulus update
    HFXXXX/SF2254 (Johnson) High speed broadband state goals*

Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful comments!

Having been actively involved in getting broadband to our area If I have learned anything at all it is the phone companies (not locals) have made it clear they have intent in investing in the rural environment. Based on discussions with them (Century link) I can safely say the only value rural markets hold for Century link is to provide revenue for investments in urban markets.

I have also learned through contacts in the telecommunication industry that companies (like Century link) do not respond to any other stimulus than local government, public and media pressures. therefore it is my opinion the only way to get these phone companies to respond is the threat of loss of all their right of way access (which would then also include a loss of the federal dollars they receive) not to mention income unless they commit to complete rural broadband connection by 2012. That those treasured right of ways would be given to any company who would commit to that investment in the same time frame.

I know this works to gain a commitment response these phone conglomerates. Please pass this on to all interested parties.

Cordially yours, Jim Lunemann in Osakis, Mn.

There has been a higher level of sophistication achieved since the state technology office was closed by governor Jesse Ventura. However, the office needs to be re-opened, with a new mission that includes an advisory board representing all sectors of the state (counties, cities, tribes, schools, universities and colleges, cultural communities – Indians, African Americans, Asians, Latinos) so that first of all, an update on what has been accomplished and what is needed.

The office needs to connect with BTOP and other federal broadband efforts and opportunities as much as possible. Opportunity from federal dollars needs to be matched in some way with state dollars. MN needs to regain its early prominence in broadband and Internet commerce.

By Laura Waterman Wittstock

I would like you to give them the research (in sound bites) that shows the correlation between broadband and economic development. And I would like you to develop a strategy to educate city council members. I live in rural Minnesota and locally there’s a great deal of resistance to the Internet as “a competitor drawing customers away from local retailers.”

By Jennifer Armstrong in Gilbert, MN

As an urban resident serving as executive director of the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information I would like to stress that broadband access is absolutely a state priority for every Minnesota resident and institution. State government needs broadband access in every county, town, neighborhood and household. Just as important state government needs to hear from every constituent. This requires a comprehensive overview of the state – where the people live, their incomes, languages, and living conditions so that these data can be tabulated, mapped and matched with allocation of public funds for health, education and a host of publicly-funded initiatives. Broadband is the means to a vibrant, informed population that can anticipate and thus address wise, long-term decision-making.

By Mary Treacy

Everyone in MN needs access to broadband In this economy, everyone needs to be on-line. People can only apply for jobs at places like Target and Wal-Mark online. Have you ever tried to fill out a job application on a dial-up connection? A lot of companies (for example Progressive Insurance) give you discounts for buying your insurance and communication with them only online. Have you ever tried to fill out an insurance application online? There are great ways to save money if you are online–for example, coupons and specifically for my neighborhood, Our new Americans in Seward Neighborhood can only communicate with the INS via the web

By Sheldon Mains

I guess my short message to my legislators about broadband would just to be to think about high speed access as highways. I know the metaphor is used perhaps too often, but the Internet is how many of us already get to work and how more and more of us will get to work in the future. Obviously, we are using access for lifelong learning, for entertainment, for our jobs and we are using access now for our health. Broadband is an investment and should be treated as such.

By Rick Birmingham in Minneapolis

I’m a full time telecommuter, living in the country east of Long Prairie, Minnesota. Over the years, my internet options have always fallen short of me and my employer’s needs. My telephone companies (they change every few months) used to promise “high-speed internet over DSL ‘next year’”. That was a decade ago. My current ISP barely meets my needs.

Without a good internet connection, I am unemployed. I try hard to purchase locally. Unemployed, I will purchase a lot less — locally and around the state.

By Paul Durant

This entry was posted in MN, Policy 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.

2 thoughts on “Advice on broadband for Minnesota Legislators

  1. A new post just came in…

    “What would you like your legislators to know about the importance of broadband access for you and your community?”
    I am in a coffee shop in Mankato. I have 53 emails because of being in a snowstorm with no access until I got off the farm. I could have been “working successfully remotely” for the last four days with better broadband access. Denise Cumming

  2. Another post that actually came in earlier but I missed it…

    I work with a number of manufacturing companies in rural Minnesota. I see a desire among many of these companies, along with those who provide services to them, to utilize remote meeting tools such as WebEx, GoToMeeting, etc. These tools have the potential to save time and money, especially with the precariousness of travel across Minnesota during the winter season. Unfortunately, there are some businesses that can’t get the broadband they need to make effective use of video-based remote meetings. Some of my clients continue to be face limited speed, low end DSL connections. This is especially true for smaller companies in particular regions of the State. Because of the broadband barrier, using current business communication technologies is frustrating and inefficient. It does get in the way of day to day communications and more efficient business processes.

    Jan Hepola
    Business Growth Services
    Enterprise Minnesota

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