The West Central Tribune reports on a recent meeting in Willmar where Lt Smith heard from numerous local residents about their problems with inadequate broadband…
The dialogue, hosted by Jennie-O Turkey Store, came in the midst of legislative debate over how much the state should invest in its border-to-border broadband access program, particularly for grants to bring services to areas of the state that are unserved or underserved.
Gov. Mark Dayton and Smith have proposed a $100 million appropriation to expand rural broadband access this year.
An allocation this size could leverage up to $100 million more in state and local resources for broadband expansion.
A bill making its way through the Minnesota House would provide substantially less — $40 million over two years, an amount some critics have called a drop in the bucket.
One person after another at Monday’s roundtable discussion testified to the need for better service.
The article also highlights a possible upgrade in the area via CAF II funding…
Representatives of CenturyLink, Charter Communications and Frontier Communications said they know there’s a need and that they are willing to leverage their own investment with state and federal funding.
Patrick Haggerty of CenturyLink offered a bit of good news to the room: With the help of the federal Connect America Fund, CenturyLink expects to bring internet service to about 430 households in Kandiyohi County by the end of the year.
State and federal grants are one of the key pieces in helping service providers reach high-cost remote areas of the state, Haggerty said. “It is a very critical tool in our state to fill those gaps.”