Today I was a panel for MN CLE on Vital Role of Telecommunications During the Pandemic. I was the only one not associated with a broadband provider. So I mostly told stories of what people are doing on the frontlines of trying to get kids learning online but it occurred to me that folks might be interested in quick snapshots of what’s been happening in Minnesota.
From my fellow panelists I learned that everyone is seeing an increase in traffic. It seemed like 25 percent at peaks was a popular answer. Also, everyone has seen the peak hours change from night (starting at 8-9 pm) to work or school day. I think everyone had a deal to provide free or low cost broadband for folks who couldn’t afford it. And people were doing what they could to create community hotspots near areas without access.
It was interesting to hear that there was an increase in new subscribers who didn’t ask for any low cost options, which means there likely people who chose not to have broadband regardless of cost.
I think there was a shared feeling that it was great to see everyone rally round to meet the immediate need as quickly and as well as possible but that policymakers should not think that short term solutions meet long term needs. A hotspot in the school parking lot is better than nothing BUT Minnesotans need to be able to access broadband from their homes to work, learn and keep healthy! That will take public private partnerships – like the MN Broadband grants.