Kanabec hits broadband barrier

Reporting on broadband activity in Minnesota has been fun lately – especially as various ARRA-funded projects are becoming more visible – but a story in the Kanabec County Times reminds me that it’s not all groundbreakings and Senators visiting. Some areas do not have the broadband they want or need and their prospects are not looking up. Kanabec is one of those areas as the local paper states…

Kanabec Broadband Initiative’s (KBI) hopes of moving up the ladder and not having Kanabec County be ranked as one of the worst counties in the state for broadband service looks bleak

Kanabec County has been looking at broadband options in their area. Bolstered by advice in the 2009 Minnesota Ultra High Speed Broadband Report to develop public-private partnerships, Kanabec went to their incumbent provider to talk about planning for the future. They wrote a letter suggesting a team effort – where CenturyLink would come up with a preliminary plan (including costs) to bring the County to 10-20 Mbps (the speed specified by Minnesota Broadband Law) and community partners would come up with funding for a market study. According to the Kanabec County Times, the response was less than hopeful…

However, one of CenturyLink’s responses in a Sept. 30 letter stated, “After receiving your letter I requested that my management team report back to me on the costs associated with your request for a minimum 10 MB speed to every home and business within the county. For proprietary reasons I’m unable to share with you the estimated costs of meeting this goal in Kanabec County.”

The letter continued, “However, I can tell you that it represents many millions of dollars at a significant cost per household or business passed that under current business models do not generate a return on the investment.”

It’s a tough barrier to hit – but it doesn’t have to be a dead end. It sounds as if Kanabec will be meeting to regroup and talk about pursuing a feasibility study.

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