Senator Klobuchar’s rural broadband goal and Minnesota’s broadband model get nod from Virginia

Roanoke Times reports on all of the presidential candidate’s rural plan; turns out the report on Senator Amy Klobuchar reads like

Rural broadband. This is something everybody is for, Democrats and Republicans alike, so nobody gets points for mentioning rural broadband. That’s a given. Most candidates don’t even bother to mention the dirty details — getting broadband to rural areas is expensive. Warren and Buttigieg have the temerity to offer a pricetag — she says $85 billion; he says $80 billion. By contrast, Trump is in the process of allocating $20 billion, so you can get some sense of scale. Lo, in some ways Klobuchar actually has the boldest rural broadband plan of all. She doesn’t offer a dollar figure but does vow to connect every home to the internet by 2022. That vow would be more credible if she offered a dollar figure — it’s embedded in a larger infrastructure program she prices at $1 trillion — but is still a more specific goal than any other candidate has proposed. Who would have guessed that Klobuchar, who has pitched her moderation as a selling point, would actually be the most radical on rural broadband?

Klobuchar’s 2022 date may be either a stroke of technological daring — or a copy-and-paste job. Her home state has set a 2022 goal for making sure everyone in Minnesota has rural broadband. Minnesota’s ambitious rural broadband goal has been a model for other states — Ralph Northam cited it during his 2017 campaign for governor. For Minnesota, the “broadband for all” program is part of an economic development strategy backed by both parties to try to turn the state into a technology capital. Now, here’s the problem: That’s a lot easier to do in flat Minnesota than in, oh, let’s say, the mountains of Appalachia. Klobuchar’s 2022 date would be a stretch, but let’s give her points for her moonshot approach (assuming, of course, some staffer simply didn’t steal Minnesota’s goal without thinking through the details).

It’s a nod to the work done in Minnesota and to Senator Klobuchar’s priority on broadband. I might offset the challenge of mountains with the challenge or size. Virginia at 42,775 miles squared is about half the size in Minnesota (86,943 miles squared). Every state has a different set as assets and challenges! We see that even regionally in Minnesota from sturdy terrain of aptly named Rock County, to the Northern Woods to the challenge of 10,000 lakes.

This entry was posted in MN, Policy, 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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