Expect another fight at the legislature in 2017 over money to expand broadband Internet access in Greater Minnesota. Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith says the administration will propose “another robust investment,” after a special task force recommended 100 million dollars every two years. Smith calls broadband “a critical tool for building a fair economy.”
But Republican Representative Pat Garofalo says technological changes and market forces will improve broadband access “way more than more government spending. Just like the government didn’t buy cell phone towers to bring cell phone service to rural areas, it’s the exact same thing with broadband,” he says.
Garofalo says fiber-optic installations are very expensive and don’t make sense in low-density rural settings — but he says emerging technologies such as wireless could work. Garofalo ays “if the policy changes are made to allow for more wireless technologies, new emerging technologies, that gives us the opportunity to deliver broadband to way more people at a far lower price.”
Governor Mark Dayton proposed 100 million dollars last session but that number was reduced substantially in negotiations with Republicans.
Here’s the interview with Garofalo: