Kresha says broadband support isn’t partisan, suggests an assessment of funding from federal, state and private sectors

There have been a number of editorials and article on broadband in the last two weeks. Both Democrats and Republicans seem to embrace the need for public funding for rural broadband. Last week, Representative Kresha (who have been a vocal broadband advocate) reminded readers of the Faribault Daily News that broadband isn’t a partisan issue…

Legislators on both sides agree that Greater Minnesota is in desperate need of expanded broadband access, but to say that Republicans aren’t doing their part to work toward this end is a blatant mischaracterization. Partisan blame games don’t fly in a world where legislators are working to give rural Minnesotans the broadband access they deserve.

He affirms that both parties want to support broadband. He also raises investment made by private providers and the federal government…

Our state is working with the federal government and private entities to greatly expand broadband throughout Minnesota. The $10.6 million of state funding invested in the first year of the current biennium is $10.6 million more than 2013, the first year of a biennium where Democrats controlled the House, Senate, and governor’s office. Just last year, federal and state grants accounted for $96 million designed to develop broadband networks in the unserved and underserved areas of Minnesota. Over the next five years, the federal Connect America Funds will invest $500 million in the state’s rural broadband expansion.

This isn’t an issue where politicians or editorial writers should cast as a deeply partisan matter. I know that many of my colleagues in the House of Representatives support increasing rural broadband access and funding. With hundreds of millions of dollars coming from federal programs and private entities, it’s important the state legislature does its part to ensure your tax dollars aren’t wasted on duplicating initiatives.

I think he’s onto something with recognizing the strength of knowing what funding is coming from where and how Minnesota can make the most of the opportunity. As he notes, $500 million is coming in from federal funds over the next five years. BUT the feds only require that providers upgrade to 10 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up, which is not the current (or proposed) definition of broadband in Minnesota. It would be great to find a way to use state funding or other assets to get private providers who receive federal funds to commit to the higher goals. That would be a huge win for rural Minnesota – maybe give us an edge over other states who also receive federal funds.

This entry was posted in Funding, MN, Policy and tagged 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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