Minnesota and the problem of the broadband donut hole

Recently Chris Mitchell (from the Institute for Local Self Reliance) interviewed Dan Dorman (from the Greater Minnesota Partnership). They spoke about the impact of broadband policy rural areas.

They started by talking about ARRA funding’s restriction on Lac qui Parle County’s broadband situation. LqP County got ARRA funding for FTTH – but to qualify for the funding they had to remove Madison (the county seat) from their plans. ARRA would not fund areas that were “served”. As it stands now Madison does stand apart from the rest of the county. The rest of the county has fiber to the home; Madison does not. Prior to receiving broadband funding LqP’s looked like many other counties – the “big” city had better broadband than the more rural areas. It was a donut hole of broadband. After funding they because a reverse donut hole.

Dorman is concerned that the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development is creating an environment ripe for creating similar reverse donut holes in other parts of the state as the OBD focuses on funding infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas. Apparently Dorman asked the OBD how many people live in cities that would qualify for state funding as it currently sits and the answer was 2 percent. Dorman wants to make sure that this doesn’t happen and thinks that allowing more cities/towns to qualify for broadband funding is a way to reach the greatest number of people.

Dorman maintains that by focusing on serving cities the impact will seeps into neighboring areas because many people from neighboring areas often work in city. And that it is more fiscally responsible to serve areas with greater populations.

It’s an interesting discussion!

This entry was posted in MN, Policy, uncategorized 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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