This afternoon I followed Senator Klobuchar’s staff to Brainerd to hear local folks talk about broadband, infrastructure and housing. The mentioned her work with mapping and the recent establishment of the Precision Ag Task Force.
I have archived the entire meeting [well meeting until 1pm, when I had to take a call] but will only share notes related to broadband…
The Klobuchar folks talked to a farmer who can’t milk the cows when broadband is down. Cows are chipped, which helps track data related to the cows. SO when the line is down – it skews everything.
Kristi Westbrock, CEO of CTC, talked about broadband in the area:
There’s an area of Baxter (micropolitan) with two streets with 100+ homes with no coverage. They appear covered when you look at the broadband maps because they are in a census block that is served. We can’t get help to cover that area because they look covered and without help it’s hard to make a business case to do it. We need accuracy and granularity. Without we’re going to miss homes that will never get covered.
We take advantage of many of your services. Please don’t slow down the funding. When you slow down it means we can’t build out to the potential customers we’d like to serve. And they remain unserved.
We have applied for 5 MN grants this year. Three with partners; two on our own.
Federal funding does require a lot of red tape – but that’s not all bad. It does help filter out folks who might not perform. It’s worth it if you’re funded.
Questions/Comments from others
How can CTC serve little areas and yet a street on Baxter is left unserved? [Rhetorical or not, this went unanswered.]
We were working on a project for roads – everyone we ran into asked us if we could bring in fiber too.
Broadband is a big issues for us – especially in terms of haves/have-nots. It’s an economic development issue. Surely we can make the case that broadband needs to reach all homes.
Broadband is essential is you want to sell a home.
Broadband helps boost tourism.
Retired folks are moving to the area. And those folks will need broadband to support telehealth.
Chemical dependency (meth now surpasses alcohol for treatment in Crow Wing County) and mental health issues are our biggest problems right now. We need prevention. There are telehealth programs that could help – but people need access to broadband .