Broadband Development Goals: A Right Step Forward

The importance of high-speed Internet and universally accessible broadband infrastructure is undeniable in the digital economy like today’s. It is vital infrastructure in every industry, from finance, manufacturing, and agriculture to public services like emergency dispatch, education, and health care.
Broadband provides access to information, services, and opportunities to millions of people across the country, as well as billions around the world.

In 2010, Minnesota established its broadband development goal that all state residents and businesses would have access to high-speed broadband that provides minimum download speeds of ten to 20 megabits per second and minimum upload speeds of five to ten megabits per second by 2015 at the latest. Minnesota has come a long way from 2010 in expanding broadband coverage, as shown in the figure below.

Percent of MN households with high speed broadband access

In order to achieve universal access across the state Governor Dayton’s bipartisan Task Force on Broadband suggested a significant amount of investment, approximately between $900 million to $3.2 billion. The Task Force has recommended the state to spend $200 million to help private service providers and communities deploy broadband infrastructure in rural and underserved areas. The Office of Broadband Development launched the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant program two years ago and this subsidizing program has proven very well received among service providers and communities as the state’s broadband coverage increases.

While it is clear that Minnesota did not achieve its broadband goal by 2015, the state has made significant progress. Minnesota is looking to keep the momentum, as the Task Force recently proposed a new Minnesota broadband statutory speed goal to meet the growing bandwidth demand.

The new goal is that all Minnesota residents and businesses would have access to broadband with at least 25 megabit per second downstream and at least three megabit per second upstream by no later than 2022. The Task Force also recommends the minimum download speeds of 100 megabits per second and the minimum upload speeds of 20 megabit per second by 2026. Increasing broadband speeds will allow more data-intensive applications to work at appropriate speeds and will make Minnesota more competitive in digital era.