Bad weather punctuates the need for better broadband

The St Cloud Times recently published an interesting editorial. The premise is that Minnesota needs better broadband. And the author seems to suggest that building a safety network first and expanding it is an approach worth considering…

This summer has included several weather-related disasters around our state. They offer us a reminder that affordable options for community-based emergency broadband infrastructure exist.

When a weather-related disaster occurs, oftentimes power outages follow. During those times, it becomes important to communicate across the community on an alternative access to the internet. The Minnesota Office of Broadband Development would like to see all Minnesotans able to access our internet. However, the agency fails to acknowledge that the first step lies with providing our communities with affordable community emergency broadband options that can then be scaled up to provide other decentralized internet access services.

The good news is that there are efforts to consider this approach. I know the Office of Broadband Development has spoken many times about their conversations with FirstNet. FirstNet is a national effort to build a safety network. The hope is that, especially in rural areas, that network might support growth in unserved areas – either through extra capacity of the network or through extra capacity in deploying the network – like build once, lay several extra strands of fiber or work out pole attachment coordination for multiple networks.

There’s also a little confusion on the idea of the public utility. The FCC was talking about the access to unfettered information – not an effort to deploy broadband as public infrastructure

Last year, the FCC reclassified communications over the internet as a public utility. Corporations are no longer able to control access to the internet. With that fact in mind, it’s time for Minnesota to act and institute affordable community broadband infrastructure for all communities.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, MN 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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