Yesterday the Minneapolis Start Tribune ran a astory on how folks around the state are feeling about the AT&T merger. The results, as you migth expect, are mixed. (I wrote about a brief primer on the merger earlier, if the details elude you.)
The StarTribune spoke to a few folks in rural areas some of whom will be familiar to regualr readers: Bruce Kerfoot, owner of the Gunflit Lodge in Cook County, Pamela Lehmann, executive director of the Lac Qui Parle County Economic Development Authority and Heidi Omerza, a City Council member from Ely. Here are their takes on the merger:
“I cannot be competitive with my guests’ needs for hooking up or connecting while they’re here — even though I’d prefer they didn’t,” Kerfoot said.
While the StarTribune notes that Kerkoot is “is just the kind of person AT&T Inc. has in mind as the telecom giant pushes expanding rural broadband as a major benefit of its proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA” they also note…
But for Kerfoot, even if AT&T’s merger leads to more rural broadband, he won’t reap the benefits. The company’s plan still doesn’t reach his neck of the woods in the northeasternmost tip of the state.
“It’s really tough as an economic developer to get anyone from the cellular companies to respond to inquiries,” Lehmann said. “A very small rural county has limited coverage for them, so when you’re not a major player it’s tough to get them to carry on that conversation with you.”
“Right now with all the fights going on for the limited dollars out there, it’s one more thing that can help rural America.” Omerza said. “This is one piece of the puzzle for Ely to continue to survive.
The answers are varied because of course each rural area is in a different position in terms of current deployment and adoption and each person has different expectations. Some folks will be happy with any progress, some folks are looking for more and some folks still won’t get access.