Last month the Dakota County Republican Caucus started a conversation – “Should Dakota County be actively participating in the development of Broadband?” Unfortunately I was in Chicago last month when they heard from the “pro” perspective. Last Thursday they heard from Annette Meeks from the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, a group that advocates for free market and limited government.
Meeks is not a proponent for government spending on broadband. She had just come from doing training with legislators. She was there in part to discuss the Dakota County Joint Powers Agreement and their Dakota County Fiber Network but also talked about broadband in Lake County, Monticello and Rochester.
I was most interested in questions from the audience. People are concerned about the ongoing cost of the network and who gets to decide about municipal infrastructure and how the providers are or aren’t involved. Also people asked about 5G. Someone was concerned about the health concerns with 5G. And Meeks said 5G would be a good way to keep elderly residents stay in their homes in rural Minnesota as opposed to moving to Minneapolis. (Signs point to 5G not being deployed in rural areas any time soon.) I think the concern with any technology is that once you pay for something it will become obsolete and that’s magnified when you’re using public funds. People expressed that concern at the meeting. But these are people in Dakota County who have broadband so they might be in tune with the cost of not having it.