The Post Bulletin reports…
Access to high-speed broadband technology has been limited for many rural residents and efforts to ensure availability have been slow despite the best efforts of Minnesota state government.
That’s why it was a momentous occasion last month when the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it will invest $11 million in three high-speed broadband infrastructure projects in southeastern Minnesota and northern Iowa.
The funds will benefit more than 1,395 rural households and 120 businesses. The funds will be allocated to Harmony Telephone Co., Consolidated Telephone Co., and Osage Municipal Utilities.
The article highlights the benefits of rural broadband, emphasizing healthcare…
Expanded broadband opportunities would improve health care for rural residents, improve education for students, help farmers keep updated on rapidly changing markets, create an environment for better paying and more rewarding jobs, and entice more urban residents to live and work in rural communities.
Telemedicine – so important in rural areas where health care professionals are scarce – would thrive with more broadband access. It’s estimated that nationally only 8.2 percent of patient-healthcare interactions occur via telemedicine, a percentage that would increase if broadband access was available. Telemedicine, of course, connects patients in rural communities with health-care professionals miles away. It can save time, money and lives. Of course, gigabyte gobbling videoconferencing, as well as large data transfers of say, an X-ray, require broadband connection. When a community doesn’t have broadband access, health care institutions are far less likely to consider telemedicine opportunities.