The Pew Research report on How State are Expanding Broadband Access has garnered a lot of attention lately for the report and the states they pull out as leaders, including Minnesota. I haven’t tracked all mentions of the report but Fast Company took a closer look at the MN Broadband grants…
Take the case of Minnesota, which has a goal of “border-to-border broadband” with download speeds of 25 megabits per second and uploads of 3 Mbps (the Federal Communications Commission’s definition of broadband) by 2022 and 100/20 Mbps statewide by 2026.
So far, the state has invested $85.2 million in public funding—2019’s recipients include rural telephone companies and electric utilities, tribal governments as well as big-name telcos like CenturyLink and Charter—to leverage another $110.6 million in spending to get 34,000-plus households and 5,200 businesses online.
As a result, the report says, the share of Minnesota households with 25/3 Mbps broadband has gone from 86% in 2015 to 91%. And the share with 100/20 Mbps access has almost doubled, zooming from 39% in 2015 to 74%.
The report doesn’t address how many of those households got online without the help of those subsidies, but notes that the state allows internet providers to challenge any of the grants “by demonstrating that they provide service or have begun construction on broadband infrastructure at speeds equal to or greater than the proposed project.”
The catch: Before they do that, they have to provide a detailed map of their service area, making the state a little smarter for the next round of grants.