To the editor:
I strongly disagree with Mr. Ackerman's opinion piece published on April 10 ("Broadband A government obligation?" Contrary to his column, business owners and economic development officials know that poor broadband access and low speeds make communities less competitive. The Governor's Task Force on Broadband ranks Minnesota 23rd in broadband service, and Minnesota is not "above average" nationally, according to the Akamai "State of the Internet" survey. Minnesota can and should do better.
While Mr. Ackerman states that "government-funded broadband" is not needed, it was his company, XtraTyme, that took advantage of an innovative public-private partnership in Bird Island, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis (m.minneapolisfed.org/article.cfm?id=2079). The Greater Minnesota Partnership hopes that these sorts of partnerships can be reproduced across the state. Specifically, local communities or the state should be able to build the infrastructure necessary to allow private providers to expand.
An investment in high-quality broadband in Minnesota would add $1 billion to the state's economy each year, according data from the Strategic Networks Group. However, it is still unclear whether our state's leaders will support even a modest broadband infrastructure fund to expand broadband access. Greater Minnesota has waited long enough. It is time for our policymakers and Governor to act this session to make Greater Minnesota strong.
President of the Greater Minnesota Partnership and former President/CEO of Hiawatha Broadband Communications