Minnesota broadband battles


MinnPost ran an interesting article Tuesday highlighting some of the more contentious broadband issues in Minnesota: Battle over broadband: Minnesota slipping in efforts to get more high-speed Internet access. The first battle is the race with other states for ARRA broadband funding. The article say that, “Minnesota has not been a big winner so far of the funds being awarded by the U.S. departments of commerce and agriculture” and suggests that leadership at the State level might have helped in the pursuit.

The article maintains that Minnesota is mired in the middle ground. I did a little research into how much each state has received so far for ARRA broadband projects (not mapping) and found that the reporter (Sharon Schmickle) is spot on. So far 43 states (or regions) have received funding; Minnesota is ranked 24th in terms of the amount it has received. (I have tracked funding received by states.) It’s interesting to see but I don’t feel like the fat lady has sung yet; there are still grants in the hopper and anyone could pull ahead with the next announcement.

One silver lining is that the Minnesota broadband bill, which would create a broadband entity that might be able to play a leadership role next time around.

The next battle is the community versus providers especially in terms of the Minnesota telecommunications services bill currently in legislation. On the one side are providers who have invested in existing broadband infrastructure and are not interested in government-supported competition. On the other side are communities who are not satisfied with their broadband options.