ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Top Minnesota lawmakers are making a major push to expand high-speed internet to regions of the state that still don’t have it.
Minnesota House Democrats are proposing big internet upgrades they say will improve rural schools and businesses.
Getting high-speed internet is so common for many of us it’s almost an afterthought. But rural lawmakers say there are two dramatically different Minnesota’s — one with access to broadband, and one without.
Ninety-three percent of Twin Cities households get high-speed internet, but outside the Twin Cities, only 46 percent of households have access to it.
High school seniors from Mora, Minn. say they sometimes have to drive at least 30 minutes to find a place to get connected to high-speed internet, even though they are required to go online for their homework and applying for college.
“If we don’t have the means to get online and quickly do our work to turn things in, we miss our deadlines and miss the opportunity to even attend a college that we could get into because of slow internet,” said Cassidy Carlisle, a senior at Mora High School.
Democrats are proposing $25 million to expand fiber-optic systems in certain parts of the states.
But that’s only a first step. To get high-speed broadband to all of rural Minnesota will take many years and cost billions of dollars.
Schools across the state are quickly moving to online digital learning and expanding their own networks to allow students to bring their own devices to school.
Many families don’t have internet access at home, so they may stay after school to work, or use the internet at a public library. And that’s a lot different than access in the Twin Cities.