Affordable high-speed internet is necessary to remain competitive in today’s global economy. Many businesses and residents experience lack of access to reliable broadband at acceptable speeds and costs.
Based on broadband maps provided by the Minnesota Office of Broadband in 2019, only 85.98% of the state and 68.43% of Greater Minnesota meet the current state minimum standard of download speeds of 100 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 20 megabits per second. DevelopMN’s goal is that by 2026, all Minnesota businesses and homes will have access to at least one provider of broadband with at least 100/20 Mbps availability.
Examples of the impact made by RDOs include the following:
All MADO RDOs are supporting members of the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition, with Region Nine Development Commission, Southwest Regional Development Commission, and Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission serving as governing members to help guide coalition activities and strategies. In 2020, The Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition and its supporters requested the 2020 Legislature fund the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program with $30 million base funding in the 2020 supplemental budget to achieve the state’s 2026 broadband speed goal. The Legislature funded the Grant Program at $40 million in the 2020-21 biennial budget, the largest multi-year investment in the state’s history. The Coalition is currently conducting the Minnesota Speed Test Initiative (https://mnruralbroadbandcoalition.com/speedtest), a statewide crowd-sourced project to create an accurate map of where internet service is available and what speeds people are currently receiving.
Mid-Minnesota Development Commission (link) has recently written successful grant applications to the Blandin Foundation to help fund Broadband Feasibility Studies for both Kandiyohi and Meeker Counties. Staff is working with its counties to help foster improvements in broadband throughout the region.