On Monday, Senator Amy Klobuchar held a hearing at the Minnesota State Capital on access to high-speed data networks (referred to as broadband) yesterday. It was standing room only in one of the smaller hearing rooms. The audience included representatives from a number of industry groups, a couple members of the Minnesota Ultra High-Speed Broadband Taskforce, at least one librarian and a few people who work on the Blandin Foundation Rural Broadband Initiative.
Senator Klobuchar started the hearing with a statement outlining why broadband access is important for economic development in rural Minnesota and providing some rankings (e.g. Minnesota ranks 44th out of 50 states in average download speed for the Internet.) She made that case that the economic stimulus package must include funding for improved access to the Internet as a way of improving the economy of rural America.
The panel of people providing testimony included a rural senator, the technology coordinator for a primarily rural school district, an executive from a rural hospital, the manager of a rural telephone cooperative and a few other with similar backgrounds. Most talked about the need for better Internet access–for students, for hospitals, for small businesses.