Rep Thissen talks broadband in Aitkin: can’t get work done without better broadband

Representative Thissen visited two communities yesterday to talk about broadband Pine City and Aitkin. (I wrote about Pine City earlier.)

There were quite a few people in Aitkin including economic developers, several local business people, providers, community leaders and residents. And people were pretty passionate in part because we heard from business people who have run into problems – wasted hours – not being able to access the broadband they need and no solution is in sight.

And with some of the national providers there’s not much sympathy for lack of access.

The area applied for the Border to Border grant funds last year but didn’t get it. That clearly deflated people and what everyone recognize was that the state just needs to invest a lot more money into broadband. People were curious and worried about the CAF arrangements because they are worried that the providers who accepted CAF funding will build to the minimum and that is not what the community wants or needs.

The costs to everyone are an issue. The cooperative did a feasibility study that determined it woudl cost $65 million to get FFTH in their service area.

We were interested in the border to border grants but we couldn’t make it happen. Things like needing a certified engineer made it difficult to turn it around. We hope the funding continues. If there was a market case to build broadband here it would have happened. It hasn’t so we need help.

People here use DLS, they use hotspots, it just about gets you by but you can’t work on it. The costs are also prohibitive. In town we have cable. But outside the city the options are limited.

People are frustrated. I need to get a land line because my cell phone doesn’t work. I have to have a cell phone, satellite, and phone service

I used up half of my data allotment last night watching the presidential debate.

Next year is a short legislative season. We want to be ready. We need legislative support. We are glad for the providers that are here. We need that partnership to get better broadband.

It would cost $65 million to get FFTH in our service area. There’s some fiber but not much.

We did apply for funding. We didn’t get it. It’s unfortunate. The locals and the providers came forward – but we weren’t able to get the State to step up.

This area is between three metropolitan areas. We’re on the fringe of much development. But we’re not reaping the benefits we need. We need creep of prosperity.

We need more state funding – we don’t want good applications competing against each other. Many people were discouraged with the decrease in funding this year in broadband funding.

We look at the maps and found that often they aren’t correct.

Social services are available online – if the client can get online. It’s easier, safer, more efficient.

“The library is spending much of its budget no ebooks – that many of us can’t access!”

We need fiber even to support wireless access

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

About Ann Treacy

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

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