Lake Park citizens tell Sen Utke and Sen Green that they want better broadband – ask about Net Neutrality

Detroit Lakes Online report on a June 7th town hall meeting in Lake Park with Sen. Paul Utke, R-Park Rapids, and Rep. Steve Green, R-Fosston. The meeting has held to give people a chance to talk about the most recent legislative session.

They talked about the need for better broadband in rural Minnesota…

Leno [a technology entrepreneur who lives on Little Cormorant Lake] also brought up the need for more broadband funding by the state.

“The Internet I work with is just barely enough to operate my business; I’m moving gigabyte files. It’s all built on the foundation of a strong Internet,” he said.

Broadband Internet services delivered to rural homes and businesses by fiber optic cable is a huge economic development issue in Minnesota, Leno said, and it should be treated with the importance that rural electrification received early in the last century.

He pays $10 to $15 a gigabit when he goes over his Internet provider’s plan. “When you’re using a terabyte a month, that gets to be expensive,” he said.

Utke agreed that “putting cable in the ground is the best we can do,” to bring reliable, affordable Internet to rural Minnesota.

The Legislature had provided $15 million towards that effort in a bill that ended up vetoed by Gov. Dayton, he said. That was on top of $35 million provided by the Legislature last year, Green added.

and the impact of the Net Neutrality repeal…

Leno also asked the lawmakers to address net neutrality at the state level, by making Internet providers answerable to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. He said he was disappointed that Republicans reversed course on net neutrality at the federal level, allowing Internet providers to slow service for Netflix, for example, or any content producer that doesn’t pay a higher fee.

Neither lawmaker showed any inclination to handle net neutrality at the state level, saying that the federal changes merely reverted the rules to where they were in 2015.

That’s when the problems began with providers slowing down services, and that’s why the FCC acted to regulate internet providers like utilities in 2015, Leno said.

Green noted that CenturyLink provides “some of the poorest coverage,” while local providers like Arvig and Garden Valley Telephone Co. do a great job.

“It would be great if I could get it, yeah,” Leno said.

This entry was posted in Conferences, 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.

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