A sneak preview of broadband at Farmfest – broadband is a utility in rural areas

Tri-State Neighbor has posted a story on the need for broadband in rural areas. The article promotes and seems possibly spurred by Rural Broadband Day at Farmfest yesterday. It’s interesting to see how something like presence at Farmfest can help raise issues and garner attention for broadband…

‘The new utility of our day and age’

When it comes to getting high-speed Internet connections in rural Minnesota, Wald sees broadband as another utility – such as the rural water or rural electric associations of today.

“It’s no longer a perk,” Wald said. “It is now the new utility of our day and age, of our generation. It’s not just a want, it’s a need.”

He said he would like to see more communities organizing rural cooperatives to bring broadband to underserved areas. The venture is not something that should be left up to private enterprise, many feel.

Widespread area to cover, but fewer customers within

As with rural electricity, the sparsely populated rural landscape makes it expensive to stretch fiber optic cable between would-be broadband users. With so few customers per mile, it’s not a profitable endeavor.

That’s why Minnesota DEED established an office for broadband development. Its mission is to help track the progress made in connecting Minnesota and helps communities gain access to federal funding programs.

Danna MacKenzie is executive director. She said that she hears stories similar to Wald’s all across Minnesota, adding that she has seen communities come together to make big things happen through broadband.

“We really look at Farmfest as a great opportunity to highlight the importance (of high speed Internet),” MacKenzie said

This entry was posted in MN, Policy, Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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