Slayton hosts broadband conversion – they need it for commerce and understand the nuances of building it

The Daily Globe posted an article over the weekend on a broadband discussion that happened on Friday…

A Friday morning gathering at the Southwest Regional Development Commission office in Slayton brought together leaders and broadband representatives from multiple counties to share the struggles of broadband expansion with District 22 Sen. Bill Weber (R-Luverne) and District 23A Rep. Bob Gunther (R-Fairmont).

They spoke about how important it is to have broadband for economic development…

Thies introduced one of his customers, a rural Jackson resident who developed two companies. Troy Rasmussen created a mobile X-ray company in 2010 that relied on a broadband connection to send images. With the help of SMBS, he was able to send the images without having to drive to Worthington to reach a fiber link. Four years later, Rasmussen created a wireless Internet company, which he has now built to more than 100 customers.

Jim Sykora, of the First Independent Bank of Russell, said his bank is using T1 lines to digitally connect their nine offices — a process that costs tens of thousands of dollars per month.

They also talked about the nuances of current bills at the legislature that could mean greater public funding for broadband. Such as the focus funding on unversed vs underserved communities…

Dan Dorman, executive director of the Greater Minnesota Partnership, said it will take at least $300 million, and up to $1 billion, to expand broadband to all of the state’s unserved population today. Dorman spoke Friday about the needs in small communities that don’t qualify for grant funding. In some areas, such as Lac Qui Parle County, all of the rural area is served, but the city of Madison wasn’t able to access grant dollars. The result is a donut, with people in rural areas getting better download speeds than residents of the city.

And prevailing wages…

One of the concerns raised by attendees was the prevailing wage law and how much of an impact it can have on broadband construction. Rock County Administrator Kyle Oldre said prevailing wages would have driven up the cost of their project by 30 percent to 32 percent.

And CAF 2 funding…

Humphrey also raised concerns about CAF2 (Connect America Funds), which are promoting a minimum standard speed of 10 megabytes download and 1 megabyte upload. [Ann’s note – should read megabit per second or Mbps]

“That’s already antiquated in our world,” he said. “10:1 is a Band-Aid. It’s not going to build fiber; it’s going to upgrade copper services. Very little fiber will be deployed with the CAF funding.

And they talked about what Nobles County is doing to increase broadband access in the area…

Nobles County Administrator Tom Johnson told the group about its status as a Blandin Broadband Community. Currently the county is working with Blandin on a feasibility study, and Johnson hopes they will one day be able to deliver broadband access to every home, just as Rock County is working toward.

To do that in other counties of southwest Minnesota, many agreed, will take a variety of partnerships.

“There’s not one solution to fix all of this,” Reisch said. “It’s going to take different solutions to try to get this resolved.”

This entry was posted in Community Networks, MN, Policy 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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