MPR creates new broadband info hub

Minnesota Public Radio’s Ground Level has created a nice hub of stories and information on broadband – especially broadband in rural areas. They highlight a number of questions asked in the web site intro…

How fast does Internet access need to be? Is providing it a government role, a marketplace question or something in between? How should people be encouraged to use it? How does it affect a community? The federal government is heavily involved; should the state be?

The hub includes a number of article now (I assume it will grow, Ground Level has been covering broadband for a year or so now). Here are a few of the topics they are covering now…

Who should build the next generation of high-speed networks?

There is no right answer to that question in rural Minnesota. It all seems to depend on the market factors, local providers’ entrepreneurial spirit, local community’s drive and demand as well as topography. Jennifer Vogel has interviewed a number of folks from different communities such as Windom, Lac qui Parle County, Monticello, Sibley County and the North Shore about what is working – and what isn’t in their regions.

Telecommuting levels the field for some rural Minnesotans

Many Minnesotans want to live in rural Minnesota. They enjoy the benefits of living in the country – but they want the financial rewards of working in businesses located in the Twin Cities (or Chicago or anywhere). Telecommuting is making it possible and is breathing new life into towns that have seen population decline (especially a youth drain) for generations. The article explains…

But communities have reason to think broadband could level the playing field, especially with the growing number of workers not tethered to a desk. A recent study by ConnectMinnesota and the Minnesota Broadband Task Force found that 37 percent of Minnesotans work from home at least occasionally; twenty percent telework on a regular basis. What’s more, the report says, “Three out of ten Minnesota adults who are not currently in the workforce say they would work if empowered to do so through teleworking. This includes 17% of retirees, nearly three out of five unemployed adults, and almost one-third of homemakers.”

Grand Marais wants broadband to open doors but not wreck the allure of remoteness

Cook County “has some of the worst connectivity in the state.” Yet they have some of the greatest interest in broadband adoption. The article talks about their trial and tribulations – from a community and economic development perspective…

“This is not a place where families with children can move and make a living,” says Jay Andersen, a host with the local community radio station, WTIP. “This [broadband] is probably the only way you are going to get economic development in this county that is going to tap into new people and sources and revenues.” He says virtual industry is perfect for remote Cook, because transportation costs make it prohibitive to manufacture and ship physical goods. Plus, “You don’t have to build another building. Anything that would help economic development without screwing up the ambiance is needed.”

There are also some fun features that will help get readers up to speed on broadband quickly:

This entry was posted in Broadband Applications, Digital Divide, MN, Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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