Mankato’s broadband event getting attention highlighting access and policy

The Mankato Free Press reports on Thursday’s broadband meeting in Mankato

The threat to rural Minnesota used to be measured mostly by the lack of good paying jobs needed to keep young people staying in or moving to small towns.

Bill Coleman says the presence or absence of dependable, speedy broadband service is now the key to rural Minnesota’s success or failure.

They highlight the connectivity in the area…

he state of area broadband service varies. The region in and around Blue Earth County is in relatively good shape compared to much of outstate and the country. But connectivity is still widely variable outside of larger cities in the area.

Some of the most dependable, fastest service delivered by underground fiber lines connected to homes and businesses is plentiful in Mankato, North Mankato, St. Peter and around New Ulm, due largely by investments from Consolidated Communications and New Ulm Telecom. Satellite services are readily available and used in many rural areas, but their dependability is affected by weather and the distance signals have to travel. Wireless service is also plentiful.

And highlight what’s happening at the legislature with the broadband grant appropriation…

Gov. Mark Dayton this session is proposing $30 million be approved by the Legislature for broadband expansion. Dayton said it would help 11,000 households, businesses and organizations get better service.

A few years ago, the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband called for more than $200 million to ensure every Minnesotan can access the internet with speeds of at least 25 mega bits per second download and 3 Mbps upload speeds.

About 88 percent of Minnesotans have that kind of access now, an improvement from the 56 percent of the state with broadband internet in 2011.

The GOP is looking at a broadband bill this year that would provide $20 million in grants instead of the governor’s $30 million proposal. Lawmakers passed a $35 million grant bill last year.

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