The Mankato Free Press reporter make commentary on (and gives a great brief history of) broadband at the legislature…
A few years ago, broadband funding was all the rage at the state Capitol.
Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration created the Office of Broadband Development in 2013 looking to fund more projects in Greater Minnesota. Local providers were ready to branch out. People expected lightning-fast internet access across the state.
Fast-forward a few years and much of the state has some kind of broadband access. Yet some communities remain using dial-up, even within south-central Minnesota, which is why local economic development experts are likely lauding Dayton’s $30 million broadband proposal.
The governor announced his plan Wednesday to help an estimated 11,000 households, businesses and organizations surf the web a little easier.
He notes what local legislators are saying…
Sen. Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake, believes there likely will be a broadband bill this session, but it’ll set $20 million for grants instead of the governor’s $30 million proposal. Lawmakers passed a $35 million grant bill last year, during budget discussions.
Draheim is also interested in securing state funding for satellite and wireless internet access for rural areas that don’t yet have broadband access. He’d also like to see the state mandate reports on wireless speeds from Minnesota providers — he, like many people in our region, also gets frustrated over few internet provider choices, ongoing data speeds that are less than we pay for, and more than a few internet outages each year.
Still, every little bit helps for an industry where companies need grant funding to build those networks in rural areas. They need far more miles of data fiber, and thus far more thousands of dollars, to build networks connecting agricultural land and small towns.