The Faribault County Register reports…
Syrjamaki and Kjeseth [staff for Rep Walz] also met with Bevcomm CEO Bill Eckles and director of government relations James Beattie during their tour of Blue Earth.
Eckles and Beattie informed the group of representatives of the growing need for broadband service within rural communities. Eckles explained how high-speed Internet access can help expand the economy in rural areas.
“When you’re talking about the potential to retain younger generations, you seemingly can’t have that conversation without touching on the issues of broadband,” Eckles explained. “Broadband opens up a town like Frost or Kiester to the world. This benefits not only the local economy, but the global economy as well.”
Efforts to serve rural customers presents its own set of obstacles. Beattie cited the large distances between broadband users in remote areas as a major hurdle in getting service out to Bevcomm customers.
However, Minnesota’s Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program has helped companies like Bevcomm serve these kinds of customers. In 2017, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced $26 million in grants were awarded to 39 broadband projects statewide.
“That is the difference between making these projects economically viable,” Beattie said.
“If we’ve got three to four customers per square mile in some of the more remote areas, the investment of time in trying to get there makes it difficult,” he added.