Internet access for all Minnesotans? Live coverage now

The Uptake is providing live coverage of the Border to Border Broadband conference presentation “The Future of Rural Minnesota Broadband.” I’m happy to share the coverage here on my blog at the bottom of this post. Coverage begins at 11:15 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 5. I’ll post archive footage afterward when its available.

The huge gap in broadband access will be regarded as one of the central civic challenges of our time, which is why I’m so frustrated that leaders on the Iron Range have next to no interest in addressing the topic. We trumpet the fact that kids are bringing home shiny new iPads from school, but half the kids either can’t afford or can’t access the internet necessary to use them as intended.

I use the internet for all my jobs. I create media, grade speeches, produce radio from my home. I pay the most anyone can pay for internet, more than $120 a month, and I still have to run to town at the end of the month when my satellite internet cap is reached. I have the luxury of being a middle class professional who can work around the problem when I have to, but I have neighbors whose kids bring home iPads which have homework apps requiring internet and they are out of luck.

Last night at my precinct caucus in Balsam Township we really only talked about two issues: the minimum wage and rural broadband. Those are the two issues paralyzing the rural poor.

The future of the media is simple. TV, newspapers and radio will all be delivered by something like the internet. Those who have it will prosper. Those who don’t, won’t.

So tune in … if you have access to fast enough internet.

Comments

  1. The real question is to what degree is Internet infrastructure a public responsibility the way that roads are? Or electricity? Even both of those can have a private cost component depending on your location.

    Our caucuses focused mainly on candidates and secondarily on the unnatural disaster known as Obamacare. We may not have caucused for the same party. 🙂

  2. I put up with dial up forever, until the websites got too complex. I waited and waited for the land line phone company’s advertised (on every bill) DSL. But they never came down my very busy road. And I’m close enough to town to see the water tower from my window. I finally went with a locally owned company that costs much less than you’re paying, but way more than the phone company would have charged. I’m currently happy with it, but for awhile it had gotten really slow. And next summer, I’ll have to figure out how to deal with trees in the path of the signal, a problem I also have with the satellite TV every summer. Interestingly, in town now people can’t get hooked up to DSL because the phone company is maxed out. I know of friends who don’t seem to lack for funds who have access only to poor quality ‘net due to where their house is located, even though there are houses about every 300 feet on their road. So ‘net availability for school kids may not be just an issue of income.

    Regarding the caucuses: if the group discussed the possible candidates without knowing their stance on current economic and educational issues, which includes net access, then what good is that discussion for picking a candidate? Or perhaps those present mostly represent people without current interests in the schools, or in using the ‘net for their own personal needs or enhancing the business climate in their community.

  3. Quote from a news article today, I’ll put the link below.
    What’s even more disturbing is that in other countries — I’ve visited both Seoul and Stockholm recently — they take these services for granted. For about $25 a month they’re getting gigabits symmetrical service, which is 100 times faster than the very fastest connection available in the United States and for a 17th of the price. It really is astonishing what’s going on in America. Americans aren’t quite aware of it because we don’t look beyond our borders, but we’re falling way behind in the pack of developed nations when it comes to high-speed Internet access, capacity and prices.

    http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/02/06/news/high-speed-internet?from=hp

    I was in Seoul in 2000, and we had visitors from there just two years later. Even then they were used to better ‘net than we have now.

  4. “Minimum wage and rural broadband. Those are the two issues paralyzing the rural poor”. Hmmm, OK, good to know. I missed the meeting. Those are straight forward issues. Let’s tackle ’em.

    After all the talking subsided at the precinct caucus in Balsam Township around these two issues, what plan was developed to break the bonds holding back the rural poor on these two dominating issues? How can we help?

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