Online citizens in St. Paul ask – why did Google pass us by?


I like to see broadband come up in main street media. I like to see broadband come up in community discussions. It means people are recognizing the importance of broadband. I really like when it comes up in my community (St Paul) because I would love to see more options here. And yes I realize that the fact that I can say “more options” implies there are options already and that I’m in better broadband shape than many people reading this blog – but my goal is to see Minnesota be a world leader with broadband and we need more discussion, more recognition and more options statewide if that’s going to happen!

The discussion on the E-Democracy St Paul Issues Forum is St Paul and Broadband started with someone bemoaning the fact that Minnesota/St Paul does not make the list of communities Google is considering as next market locations. And it takes off from there. If you’re into broadband, it’s really a nice smattering of what people outside the broadband realm want to discuss related to broadband (there is a notable broadband figure joining the discussion too; he lives in St Paul too!):

  • Google
  • Critique of current providers
  • Net Neutrality
  • Municipal Networks
  • More critiques

People are asking good questions. How do we get the network we want? Is there a potential commercial provider? Can we tie into a government network? People want speed and affordability. People want to complain a little about companies and the government. Some people have good answers and some people are quick with an allegation and in St Paul people want to beat Minneapolis – at something. If you’re interested in St Paul it’s interesting to see the discussion. If you’re leading an effort to expand broadband in your community, I think it’s interesting to look at the discussion in terms of what lights a fire under people or at least ignites them enough to post a response to a public forum.

I think the Google Fiber list of candidate cities can be used as a powerful tool to spark discussion. People get that Google coming to town is a good thing. People want to know why “we” aren’t on the list. That’s where some productive discussion can happen. How can we make our community more attractive to Google – then broaden that to how can we make our community more attractive to any provider – that might tangent into, we’re a good business bet – how can we do this ourselves?

Next step? Let’s take the discussion out of St Paul. and start a statewide conversation!