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Reader's View: Broadband fund should target the unserved

Legislators in St. Paul are in the final stages of debating whether it is necessary to create a state fund to help finance the expansion of broadband, or high-speed Internet, in Minnesota.   

Our associations represent the suppliers of much of Minnesota’s broadband service. We compete in the marketplace every day and are working hard to deliver a high-speed connection to all. In fact, Minnesota broadband providers have invested more than $1.5 billion in our state’s broadband infrastructure since 2010. This investment has resulted in significant progress toward meeting the state’s broadband speed and coverage goals.  

If Minnesota is going to use taxpayer dollars to build out broadband, the funds must be directed toward populations which lack any broadband service today — the “unserved.”

Our members have not asked the state to create a broadband fund but recognize there are some very costly and difficult areas to serve. Should a public funding source be made available, it must make areas with no service the only priority. The current House proposal would allow grants in areas that already have service, defined as “underserved.”   

The private sector continues to invest in expanding Minnesota’s broadband network. If state taxpayer dollars are used to create a new program, they should be limited to helping reach those areas that are truly unserved.  

Brent J. Christensen, Madelia, MInn.

The writer is president and CEO of the Minnesota Telecom Alliance.

Michael Martin, St. Paul

The writer is executive director of the Minnesota Cable Communications Association.