MN & ND to improve broadband access thanks to minimum $100 million in funding

MINNESOTA & NORTH DAKOTA (KVRR) – Are you sick of slow internet and the spinny wheel of death?

The infrastructure law signed by President Biden on Nov. 15 provides $65 billion nationwide to improve broadband.

“This is a really big moment for the country, it’s a really big moment for advocates and I think it’s a really enormous moment for rural America,” Lobbyist for the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition Nathan Zacharias said.

The infrastructure law gives $100 million to Minnesota and North Dakota to improve broadband access. That could increase depending on population and the amount of each state that’s unserved.

North Dakota’s Legislature also gave $45 million for broadband during November’s special session.

To be considered broadband, a connection must be a minimum of 25 megabits per second download and three megabits per second upload speeds.

The state of Minnesota estimates 157,000 households don’t have broadband. That’s 30 percent of rural areas.

The Broadband Coalition of North Dakota identified more than 7,300 locations that don’t have adequate broadband.

The high price tag is the reason many sparsely populated areas don’t have a high speed connection.

“It costs $15,000 to $25,000 a mile to run that fiber. It averages $12,000 to $15,000 just to hook up a household,” Executive Vice President of the Broadband Association of North Dakota Broadband Association of North Dakota said.

The Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition says areas in our region that need the most help are Roseau and Lake of the Woods counties.

The areas in North Dakota that need more high speed internet and those with the best connections may surprise you.

“Almost unimaginably, right down the Red River Valley there are tremendous amount of people who do not access to reliable broadband and that’s just because other providers have chosen not to invest there. The American Native reservations are the best served in the state of North Dakota. Virtually every location has access to fiber,” Crothers explained.

“Everybody needs a world class connection in their home or business to thrive and I think the pandemic made everybody take that message a little more seriously,”  Zacharias said.

Zacharias shared a story of a rural Minnesota farmer who was able to check on his cows’ vital signs through their ear tags thanks to fast internet.

“He said the most important difference was being able to spend more time at home with his family and even take vacations. He shared a photo of him standing with his smartphone on the edge of the Grand Canyon feeding his cattle remotely before he was to take a six hour hike down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon,” Zacharias explained.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration must provide Congress with a detailed spending plan by February.

Categories: Business, Minnesota News, North Dakota News, Politics / Elections