East Grand Forms asks MN Legislature to invest in better broadband for rural areas (Polk County)

The East Grand Forks Exponent recognizes the importance of broadband during a pandemic…

Our member counties are on the front-line of the public health, public safety and economic security battle to get a grip on this unprecedented outbreak, and we stand in unified support of the shelter in place directives from the state and federal government. But those directives turned a spotlight on the farms, businesses and homesteads, primarily in rural areas, being left-behind through no fault of their own due to lack of access to high-speed broadband.

And as the MN Legislature to help…

Slow or no access means your child can’t do school work at home and is at risk of falling behind the rest of the class. If you run a business, it means your competitors have worldwide access and you don’t, reducing your marketability and reducing the odds of keeping your head above water. The same holds true for farmers, who compete in an international marketplace. And with tele-medicine emerging as a new cornerstone of health care delivery, the prognosis is bleak for anyone who can’t connect to the data centers that allow providers in small practices and large health systems to communicate with one another.

If you suggested to the 83% of people in the state who are connected to high-speed, reliable and affordable internet under this national security threat, that their connection is not a luxury but a virtual necessity, I’m sure they would agree. We know there are nearly 20% of un-served people in rural Minnesota who would wholeheartedly agree.

There is a $30 million bipartisan broadband bill waiting for passage at the Legislature, and $50 million in unfunded projects sitting on the sidelines that could work as a much-needed kick-start for the rural economy.

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