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Letter: …it should allow more rural, remote residents to get connected than waiting for a larger community or township project to develop

Letter to the Editor,

If I were to ask 100 people across the Iron Range if they have heard of the Broadband Line Connection Extension Program, I would bet my next Social Security check that less than 10% would say yes.  Anyone want that bet?  One of the few bills to pass in the 2022 legislative session was a bill with an allocation of $15 million dollars to fund a program that would help people in more remote locations get connected to broadband. I know many people in rural communities that are aware that there is fiber broadband located in the ditch across from their home, yet to connect to that fiber the provider who owns the fiber wants the homeowner to pay the entire cost of trenching the fiber to their premise. Depending on the length of your driveway, and geographic barriers like ledge rock or wetlands, the cost is usually prohibitive, so life goes on with lousy internet or using your cell service for a connection.

Well as a member of the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband, and the MN Rural Broadband Coalition, I am pleased to share with you some simple steps to hopefully get you connected to high speed, quality broadband at reasonable pricing. This new program requires that you as a homeowner fill out an online application  (available at this address or for online subscribers click on this link)  or you can submit a written request to the MN Office of Broadband 332 Minnesota Street Suite E200  St Paul, MN 5510; or you can call the OBD at 651-259-7610 and they will fill out the request over the phone.  You have to let them know that you do not have a WIRELINE broadband or internet provider to your home, and you wish to be connected. That is really all you have to do.

Now in full disclosure the Office of Broadband will collect all the request for connections each 6 months. After that period, they will contact any and all providers in your area and let them know of the request for connections. The provider may claim that they have service available, or they will indicate a desire to provide the connection. The legislation allows up to $25,000 for each individual connection to be installed, but if there are more than one provider willing to connect, there is a reverse auction process. Let me be clear, this is not a quick, sure-fire process, but it should allow more rural, remote residents to get connected than waiting for a larger community or township project to develop. One more positive note, the minimum service that a provider can connect you to is 100 Mbps down/100 Mbps up. Symmetrical service is incredibly better than what many of us have today. Any questions, feel free to contact me. To date 545 requests are on file with the OBD so don’t delay. Get your request in now!

Steve Giorgi

Mt. Iron, MN

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