Minnesota Broadband and Biz: March 2012

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Blandin FoundationBy Ann Treacy

According to Boston Consulting Group’s recently published ‘Internet Economy in the G20’ report, “the Internet accounted for $684 billion, or 4.7% of all U.S. economic activity in 2010.”

Some of that activity comes from the cost of deploying broadband, while most comes from connective benefits of having broadband. In the last month, the Blandin on Broadband blog has highlighted some specific economic activity that relates to broadband in Minnesota:

  • Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services (SMBS) opens an office in Jackson, Minnesota. After receiving ARRA funding, SMBS has been deploying a fiber optic network in Southwest Minnesota. They are also testing wireless options to reach remote households.
  • Throughout Minnesota, broadband technology is helping nonprofit organizations do more with less. For example, United Way of Olmsted County created a community wide shared database for human service organizations to track information on clients and reduce duplicative efforts for staff and clients served. More examples can be found in a recent report released MAP for Nonprofits and Idealware.

  • The Universal Service Fund (USF) has been used for years to subsidize telephone service in low income and/or high cost service areas. Changes in the USF, brought about by the FCC, will shift funding explicitly to broadband but will also change the funding structure that many rural, independent telecommunications companies have used to build their businesses. Minnesota Telecommunications Alliance has been tracking these changes in terms of the impact on the local companies and consumers.
  • EnSearch provides three reasons a community should look at broadband infrastructure: increased public health and safety, enhanced education access and expanded economic development potential.

  • Lake County commissioners celebrates the new headquarters for a fiber optic network project. It’s a sign that progress is being made on Lake County’s plan to deploy ARRA-supported fiber option network in the area.

  • The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Minneapolis provides virtual ICU services to seven regional hospitals. They were the first in the area to provide the service, which hosts specialized staff in Minneapolis that remotely monitor patients in various hospitals.

  • Between 2009-2011, AT&T invested $425 million in wired and wireless infrastructure in Minnesota. But how does that compare to investments in other states?

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