Broadband is a game-changer for communities—a conduit for economic vitality and business growth. It’s the indispensable infrastructure of our time. Unfortunately, however, broadband access is not a slam-dunk. In spite of the necessity and obvious benefits, we have challenges to overcome in bringing robust broadband to ALL corners of Sherburne County.
1. Location Location Location
Private providers are looking for the highest R.O.I. (return on investment), which generally focuses on more populated regions and leaves behind sparsely populated rural areas.
2. Back to the Future
With technology constantly growing and evolving, investors are cautious about putting large sums of money into infrastructure citing concerns about it remaining adequate for future needs. In the meantime, rural economic development opportunities, education and healthcare suffer without adequate broadband.
3. The Price of Progress…and Politics
Many interests compete with rural broadband for funding—education, social services, transportation, property tax relief to name a few. Plus, we have many rural areas in Minnesota competing for broadband dollars. For example, in 20 Minnesota counties, less than 50 percent of the population has access to broadband. Even with widespread support from both parties, different people have different views on how much money is needed for broadband which ultimately slows down progress.
These challenges are real and require careful thought and planning. They demand an even bigger push from constituents for policymakers to get involved. They call for honest conversations and healthy partnerships. The challenges can be overcome and bring robust broadband to ALL people of Sherburne County and the State of Minnesota. We can learn from successes in other counties. For example:
- Scott County’s fiber network has helped create more than 1,000 jobs and tremendously improved access in area schools.
- Dakota County has saved itself millions of dollars by placing conduit for fiber in the ground at very low cost as part of other projects. Now it can use that to help local companies to compete with the big cable and telephone companies.
- In Cottonwood County, the City of Windom developed WindomNet, which is one of the most advanced networks in the state and has been expanded to serve nearby towns that had been ignored by the big telephone companies.
- In parts of Sibley and Renville Counties, cities and townships joined together to help launch a new cooperative. Cooperatives, which are essentially community-owned, offer some of the best connectivity in rural regions of the state.
Contact your legislators today and demand 21st century technology in Sherburne County. We deserve access to high-speed broadband connections and the benefits it provides to our economic competitiveness, healthcare options, educational opportunities, and quality of life.
Click HERE http://sherband.com/2015-sherburne-county-board-of-commissioners/ for a list of your elected officials.