North Dakota ranks number 2 for internet access

It’s always good to know what the neighbors are up to, the Bismark Tribune reports…

North Dakota officials argue that the state has done well in the internet age. Duane Schell, the state’s chief technology officer, cited an internet database that he said shows 100% of North Dakota residents have “access to mobile broadband,” which means they can tap into the internet wirelessly. And 90%, he said, have access to one-gigabit broadband, a particularly fast service . A May report from the state’s information technology department shows North Dakota was recently listed second in the country for “internet access” (as of this month, it was ranked 11th, with Minnesota ninth and South Dakota 43rd).

Schell said North Dakota’s high spot on the list has to do partly with local providers working hard to take advantage of federal programs to help expand North Dakota’s network. The state’s geography helps, too; North Dakota is a comparatively easy state to link up to the internet – flat or rolling fields in many areas.

The article makes a case for the importance of broadband, but also notes that even at 90 percent coverage (which the article states may be optimistic) coverage is not ubiquitous and that’s an issue…

But for the remaining 10% of the population that struggles to connect with fixed high-speed internet, Schell sympathizes.

“Obviously that is not a good situation to be in,” he said. “We don’t have a massive population that are affected this way, but for those that don’t have it, it’s a massive – ‘inconvenience’ is probably too soft of a word, but it’s definitely an impact on their life. Our society today is definitely a connected society.”

The issue is the ROI for a commercial provider in some sparsely populated areas…

Part of the problem, Schell said, is in rural areas around major North Dakota communities.

“There’s a common provider that exists in those regions, and that provider has not been as aggressive in those federal programs as the rural telcos have,” he said. “The rest of the story is … (in) some of our most rural and remote areas. As a provider, (telecommunications companies) are out there to make a living. In some of these rural and remote areas, the business case (to expand) has become exceedingly challenging.”

This entry was posted in Rural 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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