Minnesota Media talking up the need for better broadband

You know broadband is getting traction when you see it discussed on statewide television shows. WCCO-TV (CBSMinnesota) focuses on the need for better broadband for students trying to do distance learning…

The state estimates that 16% of Minnesotan’s do not have access to internet with speeds of at least 25 megabits per second. That is what you need to be able to participate in a teleconference.

But the state acknowledges even more Minnesotan’s have internet access that is not fast enough to download and play videos — it’s an issue that has been around since the internet has existed.  The COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted this issue of internet haves and have nots. …

But as the pandemic continues with no clear end in sight, the issue of equal internet access will almost certainly gain more urgency.

Fox9 covers the broadband bill discussed in the House yesterday…

“COVID-19 has shown the need for broadband now more than ever,” said state Representative Rob Ecklund (DFL-International Falls).

Rep. Ecklund has introduced a bill creating the Distance Learning Broadband Access Grant Program. It provides $8 million in grant money to reimburse schools for providing wireless or wired service to students through the end of the school year. It also includes $2 million in grants to medical facilities for telemedicine hookups and an additional $10 million for the state’s Border-to-Border Broadband Fund.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development says the extra money to the broadband fund alone could hookup about 3,600 locations.

“A $10 million state investment could bring connectivity to approximately 2 percent of the estimated 163,000 households that lack a 25-by-3 service today,” said Angela Dickison, the DEED broadband development manager.

This entry was posted in Funding, MN, Policy, Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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