From typewriter, to dialup to fiber – The Iron Range is getting serious about the Information Age

Aaron Brown writes about life on The Iron Range in Northern Minnesota. (He also hosts a great radio show on KAXE.) He has been vocal about the need for better broadband in his community. Today he celebrates the history of technology in Minnesota (fun to read as I remember working with the early providers in the area) – and recognizes that now is the time to really get serious…

Minnesota’s relationship with the internet has come a long way in 25 years. And while it still has some immature tendencies (I’m looking at you, creepy clown videos), now is when life in the Information Age starts to get serious.

The whole article is worth a read! But I wanted to point out that the timing of a recent hefty broadband upgrade in Aaron’s area has everything to do with “getting serious” …

Earlier this month, my family and I attended a community open house for Paul Bunyan Communication’s Central Itasca Fiber project. You might recall that I wrote about this last winter when the project sought funding. The interest then was great then, but now thousands of rural Iron Rangers will actually connect to gigabyte speeds — from Balsam and Lawrence townships to areas North of Nashwauk. Thus, the mood at the event was jubilant. Almost 300 people packed the Balsam Hall to hear project updates.

Before the upgrade, they were waiting on deck – hard to start a business without broadband, hard to recruit young families without broadband, hard to deploy telehealth practices, upgrade homework options, the list goes on. Now they can get serious – now they can compete with other communities that have broadband. Before the just weren’t contenders!

It’s great news for The Range – but a cautionary tale for any community that doesn’t have broadband or any community that is looking at an incremental upgrade that will still leave them out as serious contenders to compete for business, residents, health care, education upgrades. Because other communities are ready!

This entry was posted in economic development, FTTH, MN 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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