The Bemidji Pioneer took a deeper look at Blandin’s How Rural Minnesota Communities Access and Use Broadband: Minnesota Rural Intelligent Communities Baseline Report. I love when folks do that – open source information by taking a larger report and pulling out the info that’s most pertinent for them.
Here’s what they found…
The MIRC report finds that of the 11 communities surveyed, 71 percent of Leech Lake residents own a computer, placing it just below the rural statewide average of 74 percent. Cook County has the highest computer ownership of the 11 MIRC communities at 83 percent, while Worthington has the lowest. Leech Lake also reports an Internet connectivity rate in the survey of 63 percent, in contrast to the rural statewide average of 70 percent.
Results further suggest that Leech Lake has somewhat lower adoption rates of broadband and higher dial-up reliance than other areas of rural Minnesota. Compared to the 64 percent state average, Leech Lake has a broadband adoption of 54 percent, with a dial-up adoption of nine percent compared to the state average of six percent. Cook County reflects the lowest broadband adoption at 50 percent, and of the 11 MIRC communities surveyed, Worthington has the lowest dial-up adoption at two percent.
The MIRC report indicates that Minnesota rural dial-up users who have not switched to a broadband connection is at 61 percent, citing the expense of broadband as the primary reason why. Slightly more than 20 percent reported that broadband was not available where they lived, while 15 percent reported that they did not connect to the Internet often enough to justify the cost.
They also noted that computer ownershp was found to be a great determiner of broadband adoption and so the last line of the article makes an astutute observation.
Accordingly, the increase in use of home computers will be a key factor in advancing broadband strategies; according to study authors, one of the MIRC partners, PCs for People, is specifically targeting lower-income residents to provide them with a refurbished computer and sufficient training to adopt broadband.