Rural broadband may be contentious issue at Minnesota Legislature in 2017

Here’s the latest from the Minnesota News Network

Expect another fight at the legislature in 2017 over money to expand broadband Internet access in Greater Minnesota. Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith says the administration will propose “another robust investment,” after a special task force recommended 100 million dollars every two years. Smith calls broadband “a critical tool for building a fair economy.”

But Republican Representative Pat Garofalo says technological changes and market forces will improve broadband access “way more than more government spending.  Just like the government didn’t buy cell phone towers to bring cell phone service to rural areas, it’s the exact same thing with broadband,” he says.

Garofalo says fiber-optic installations are very expensive and don’t make sense in low-density rural settings — but he says emerging technologies such as wireless could work.  Garofalo says “if the policy changes are made to allow for more wireless technologies, new emerging technologies, that gives us the opportunity to deliver broadband to way more people at a far lower price.”

It’s a glimpse at what topics will emerge. It’s an opportunity to help educate community leaders and policy makers.

This entry was posted in Funding, 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.

2 thoughts on “Rural broadband may be contentious issue at Minnesota Legislature in 2017

  1. Perhaps we should tear up our four lane and two lane paved highways in rural Minnesota and just have dirt roads again. Think of the money we can save. I mean gosh, paved rounds, especially those faster four lane jobs, are quite expensive and, well, can we really afford to spend all that money on rural Minnesota when the metro beckons? No problem Rep. Garafalo. Us rural folks can get by with less than the best. Apparently we don’t deserve it if we can’t afford it. We can survive (but certainly not grow) with access to adequate roads and services and technology. Perhaps we should go back to our past rural way of life. Let’s get rid of those expensive tractors and combines. Horses and oxen can get the job done. Someone needs to educate Rep. Garafalo about the real prospect of wireless technology in rural areas and the opportunity costs involved when you don’t invest in rural Minnesota.

  2. Wireless should be excluded. If the state is going to use this grant program as a way to improve rural broadband infrastructure then it should be fiber only. Fiber once in place is able to provide enough bandwidth for the next 40 years. Wireless will only be sufficient for the next 5 years.

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