Broadband on MN Public Radio: Lots of folks without access calling in

Monday Angela Davis spoke about broadband! Here’s the description:

During the pandemic, life moved online.

Students were sent home with iPads and laptops to log into online classes. People started working remotely and spent their days in Zoom meetings. Retail stores launched e-commerce and restaurants took online orders.

So, what is happening in places that don’t have reliable high-speed internet?

Many areas of greater Minnesota lag behind the rest of the state in access to broadband. The changes brought about by COVID-19 have only highlighted how crucial internet access is to the viability of rural communities.

Host Angela Davis talks with Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove, a rural Minnesota nonprofit leader and a rural internet provider about what Minnesota is doing to get broadband to people left behind.

Guests: 

  • Steve Grove is the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

  • Tuleah Palmer is president and CEO of the Blandin Foundation in Grand Rapids, Minn.

  • Kevin Beyer is general manager of Federated Telephone Cooperative, headquartered in Chokio, Minn., and Farmers Mutual Telephone Company, headquartered in Bellingham, Minn.

And some of the phone calls they got. (The presenters were great too – but for folks reading the blog, I suspect the questions are of greatest interest.)

Callers:

From Blue Earth: I live in a rural area and I can’t teach online. I have signed up for Starlink. It’s expensive but it seems like it’s going to work for me. I wish someone would create a mesh network for farmers. Going through a cell service meant data caps.

From Winona area: We have no options for internet access. We have a baby and can’t take online classes at home. We trade off who watches the kid and who goes to a parking lot nearby. Even cell coverage is horrible in our area. Calls drop often.

Le Sueur: Barbara is part of the Blandin Broadband Community. We have had sate grants. We thought we were in line for more but then we found out that Federal funding is going to a provider that we didn’t choose and it has cut our project at the knees.

Lakeville: We have a few options here. We are curious about satellite. What is the safety issue? (Answer: in an ideal world everyone would have fiber but it’s most expensive. Wireless and satellite run into issues with weather.)

Lake Shore (near Brainerd): Our area is a patchwork. I’m two blocks away from access but the maps show that I’m covered. How can we improve the maps? (Answer: talk to us in the Office of Broadband Development – we will work to correct the map.)

Otter Tail County: 25 Mbps down isn’t really broadband any more – especially after the last year. I need 100 Mbps down and up to let people work efficiently. When we move our business, first thing I ask is for broadband.

This entry was posted in MN, Policy 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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s