Sometimes it’s hard to see ourselves clearly. Often a good way to assess how we’re doing is to listen in as our neighbors talk about us. Thanks to the Wausau Pilot & Review, we can do that. They are talking about ways to improve broadband in rural Wisconsin. Minnesota comes up…
The Wisconsin government has done relatively little to help. From 2013-2019, the state funded about $20 million in grants for expansion of broadband, an amount experts say is less than negligible. In a similar time period, Minnesota shelled out more than $108 million in broadband expansion grants, and providers had to match those grants with another $146 million, said Eric Lightner, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
That’s a total of $255 million for broadband expansion in Minnesota, more than 10 times greater than Wisconsin’s investment. Now, about 16 percent of rural households in Minnesota lack access to high speed internet, Lightner said.
They talk about the frustration at the State level, where it seems politics may be standing in the way of getting things done and they offer some steps a community can take at the municipal, state and federal level to improve access. The very abridged version sounds things we hear about in Minnesota: look at local investment in infrastructure, contact your legislator to demand more and improve maps.