Rep Ecklund lives the broadband gap as his work moves increasingly online in light of COVID-19

Mesabi Daily News reports…

For Ecklund, living in a rural city along the Canadian border, his district is a hotspot for the broadband discussion because of its lack of access and, well, community hotspots. He can think of four people within a couple of miles of his home struggling to work from their apartments and houses because of internet service.

“We’re using it everywhere we can,” he said in a phone interview Thursday. “A lot of people are using it from home. It definitely shows our border to border broadband is not sufficient.”

On the Iron Range and rural St. Louis County, broadband gaps are commonplace.

It’s estimated that hundreds of families lack internet connection at home and a statewide survey in 2019 show nearly two-thirds of Minnesotans underserved or not served by internet providers.

Expanding broadband access in Greater Minnesota was among the top campaign priorities of Gov. Tim Walz, and in May 2019, he signed a $40 million grant program to improve access over the next biennium.

They also provide an update…

Ecklund said Thursday the $30 million he proposed for broadband funding this year may not be possible as the Legislature’s focus remains on the coronavirus response and bonding, but said another dose of funding is still possible.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, MN, Policy 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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