Broadband can be brutal in Burnsville – a report from the front lines

Sometimes I hear from folks in the field who are frustrated. Today’s letter comes from David Gustafson in Burnsville. It’s a reminder that you don’t have to be remote to be offline – and what sufficient (or insufficient) broadband can mean for productivity…

I have lived south of the Minnesota river since 1967 and have been actively engaged in the technology field since the late 1950s. I have seen some great changes take place, from the early data links operating at 50-100 baud using some of the earliest modems to the very high speed connections that we have today. There are many small communities that have absolutely great connectivity, much, much better than we have in many parts of the metro area.

I presently live in Burnsville, just slightly north of the Ridges hospital. For internet service, I have but two choices. Both are abysmal providers. My cable service was terrible and I could never get the “on demand” feature to work properly. I cancelled their service and had Dish installed to meet my needs. This works very well, except during heavy rains or snow falls, when I revert to local “over the air” for local service. This service is combined with internet and 2 lines of phone access for slightly over $300 per month. It is guestimated that the internet portion is around $55 per month. This is their advertised “high speed internet service”, their premier offering and is supposedly rated at 25 down and 2 mbps up. I have never achieved those numbers. It is a 2 line bonded ADSL service. Typically I get about 15-16 max down and around 1.1 up. This afternoon, I had a 500 mb file to upload to the site and it took over an hour to upload. This is absolutely inexcusable in today’s world.

Although I am retired, I am on the board of a national organization and must move a lot of large files (300-600 megabits) on a regular basis. With speeds of only 1 mbps up, it takes forever and a day to deal with large files. And of course this same situation is fairly common throughout Minnesota. There are a lot of folks in our state who do volunteer work, operate businesses at home, or other types of activities that are very dependent on the ability to transfer files as efficiently as possible. At a very minimum, we should be shooting for 100/100 speed as a minimum throughout our state. To do otherwise, is to short change our citizens. By their very nature, files are getting larger and larger and we really need to keep up with the times. We need fast internet at affordable prices. The present business model for most of our providers is not achieving this goal. We have turned into a nation of excuses for not doing things. We need to turn that around and start doing things that really contribute to the overall betterment of our country.

The Minnesota Broadband Task Force is set to end its tenure after next year. This might be a good time for the legislator to start thinking about who is going to speak for the citizens, who is going to make broadband speeds recommendations once their gone.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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