Time has come for broadband

Published 4:59 pm Saturday, March 15, 2014

It’s time for action on broadband in Greater Minnesota. It’s time for Gov. Mark Dayton to follow through on his promises to improve broadband infrastructure.

Many places in rural Minnesota lack Internet access or they must deal with outdated equipment that limit their data capacity. If the Internet providers won’t invest in rural America, then local and state governments have every right to take action. Many providers like having a corner on the market so they can provide poor or no service and still make profits.

In modern business, broadband can be just about as important as roads for reaching customers. Think of how crucial country highways have been to the success of metropolitan Minnesota. How unsuccessful would businesses be if the roads in Greater Minnesota were all gravel and no pavement? What if the road makers said rural Minnesota companies must make due with gravel to get products to market?

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How many other metro companies grew from rural Minnesota, only to locate headquarters in the Twin Cities? Target’s earliest roots go back to the Dayton family in Worthington, Polaris Industries grew out of Roseau and 3M was founded in Twin Harbors, just to name a few.

And what future Fortune 500 companies would Minnesota inhibit or prevent by not providing it with modern-day productivity of broadband infrastructure, like optic fiber instead of cable wire.

What’s more, consider how farming becomes evermore complex and how each farm is an agribusiness requiring data and technology. Successful farming needs broadband.

There have been committees, task forces and the usual delay tactics on this topic in St. Paul. All advisory bodies have issued reports on how critical broadband is to the future of the Minnesota economy.

Enough talk. Now is the time to act. We urge Gov. Dayton and the state Legislature to get behind the creation of a $100 million broadband infrastructure fund to provide assistance to public agencies, private corporations and nonprofit organizations seeking to bring broadband technology to rural Minnesota.