Sen Klobuchar staff visits Bemidji to talk about broadband, infrastructure and housing

OK sixth community visit in two days on my stint following Senator Klobuchar’s staff as they talk about broadband, infrastructure and housing – mission accomplished. Again there were about two dozen people in the room. Lots of County/ City staff, some elected officials and providers (broadband, infrastructure and housing).

I have archived the whole meeting but only took notes on broadband…

Cell coverage is not great for 4G. Often we hit areas where we actually are making international calls.

Most of the following comments come from (or in regard to) Red Lake reservation. We’re in Beltrami, which is well served with broadband but the issue here is cell coverage as you’ll see from the various comments:

We have one carrier and two towers to serve the whole reservation. Two weeks ago a fiber cut knocked out our service. I had to drive 35 miles to use my phone.

When the state awarded FirstNet, I was surprised to see the AT&T got the contract. They have no coverage here. We laughed at the maps here. 20 miles away from Bemidji – you will not get AT&T so there are several people who use 2 phones. It really impacts public safety. So you can imagine police called to rural areas are left off the grid for long portions of that drive.

We need more towers.

You need fiber to feed the towers. Paul Bunyan provides services to Red Lake band and we can get on the Gigazone. That’s great but cell coverage is terrible.

A lot of Red Lake relies on cell phones, not landlines and when those don’t work they’re in trouble. Especially for 911.

This entry was posted in Conferences, MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

2 thoughts on “Sen Klobuchar staff visits Bemidji to talk about broadband, infrastructure and housing

  1. The States do not have a contract with FirstNet or AT&T to deploy coverage. It is a contract with the federal government.

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