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Minnesota moves toward a high speed future

23 May, 2008

Minnesota's state government is taking the initiative in ushering the state into the digital age.

The state legislature passed a bill last month creating the Ultra High-Speed Broadband Task Force. The bill -- which was strongly supported by CWA -- was then signed into law by Governor Tim Pawlenty. The new task force will develop high speed Internet goals and strategies for Minnesota.

State Representative Sandra Masin, who sponsored the bill, said,

"Minnesota's ability to compete in the global marketplace depends on an effective, affordable and accessible technology infrastructure. This task force will help us determine what the state needs to provide in terms of additional resources to create that infrastructure and to position us as a leader in economic and business development for the 21st century."

The task force is charged with making specific recommendations that:

  • Identify a level of broadband service and connection speeds that will be reasonably needed by the year 2015
  • Describe policies and actions and cost estimates to meet the goals
  • Identify areas in the state that lack necessary infrastructure to support broadband service
  • Evaluate strategies and financing mechanisms in other areas to support comprehensive broadband deployment.

This move has earned praise from all over:

Some rural representatives said high-speed Internet options are limited in their areas. Rep. Mary Ellen Otremba, DFL-Long Prairie, said there are service "holes" all over her district. "I can't get broadband, but my neighbor can," she said.

And Jim Hoolihan, president of the Minnesota-based rural advocacy group The Blandin Foundation, wrote an op-ed in the Pioneer Press celebrating the state's steps toward universal high speed Internet:

Rural communities of Minnesota have been saying that if we, as a state, don't know where we're going on broadband we may end up economically sidelined.

State legislators and Gov. Pawlenty heard the voices of our communities and showed leadership in forming the state's new public-private broadband task force.

News Release: HOUSE PASSES BILL TO CREATE ULTRA HIGH-SPEED BROADBAND TASK FORCE (Minnesota House of Representatives)

Study Controversial (Bemidji Pioneer)

Drawing a map for broadband (Pioneer Press)

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