Minnesota Broadband and Biz: March 2013

by Ann Treacy

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Recent reports from Connect Minnesota indicate that broadband adoption is up six percent from last year, a considerable leap from growth in the previous couple of years.

78 percent of Minnesota households subscribe to broadband service, although the news isn’t as good for infrastructure, at least not high end infrastructure.

Research from Broadband Communities Magazine indicates that only 2-3 percent of Minnesota has access to fiber — 20Mbps down & 10Mbps up on average.

That compares with 10 percent in South Dakota, 22 percent in North Dakota and a national average of 8 percent. That is how the broadband industry seemed to sway in March, some good news, some not-to-good news and a lot of waiting on policy.

In the last month, the Blandin on Broadband blog highlighted Minnesota’s Broadband developments:

  • In Itasca County, a partnership between a local nonprofit, the school and local broadband provider brought computers and broadband access local Native American student families last year. The free trial ended in January yet only 4 households have dropped their broadband access, which means an 84 percent retention rate.
  • Minnesota Office of Broadband Development Bills (HF1255 / SF1128) – The bill would establish and fund an Office of Broadband Development to help coordinate broadband efforts in the state and create tools to help providers anticipate opportunities through practices such as Dig Once.
  • Minnesota E911 fee and the Telecommunication Access Minnesota fee (HF389/SF367)– The bill would extend the E911 fee and the Telecommunication Access Minnesota fee to prepaid wireless customers and establish funding for a broadband development grant program.
  • In March, Senator Amy Klobuchar said she would introduce a bill that would allow for cell phone unlocking.

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