Commentary – Broadband vital for the economyGardonville Cooperative Telephone Association is pleased to see that Senator Amy Klobuchar has taken the initiative in seeking out information on broadband deployment and usage in Minnesota.
By Dave Wolf,
Gardonville Cooperative Telephone Association,
Gardonville Cooperative Telephone Association is pleased to see that Senator Amy Klobuchar has taken the initiative in seeking out information on broadband deployment and usage in Minnesota. Senator Klobuchar held a field hearing in St. Paul on December 29 and received good information that will be helpful to her in her important work on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in Washington.
All indications are that expanding and enhancing broadband availability will be an important part of the new Obama Administration’s Economic Stimulus Program. The benefits that broadband brings to homes and businesses, particularly those in rural America, are an economic, educational and entertainment plus.
However, it is important that our tax dollars are not wasted in any economic stimulus program that is intended to further the reach of broadband in America. There are federal programs already operating and could be modified to sharpen their focus on getting broadband to remote areas of the nation.
The Universal Service Fund, which gave Americans the best access to telephones in the world through non-tax funds, can be used to do the same with broadband. Likewise, the Rural Utilities Service in the USDA, already has under-utilized loan and grant programs that could be streamlined to assist broadband providers to expand their coverage and increase the speeds that they can offer to their customers.
We do not need to create more bureaucracies in Washington to expand broadband availability. Refocusing existing, proven programs could be the best mechanism for delivering broadband service that our customers want and can use.
Gardonville has been providing broadband in this area since 2001. They have been at the forefront in incorporating the latest technologies in their broadband network and are committed to keeping their network, and your broadband, state-of-the-art, with the speeds that you are asking for. Over 99 percent of homes and businesses in Gardonville’s service area have access to broadband today and are committed to continually increasing that number. Gardonville doesn’t need a lot of new government programs in Washington or St. Paul to continue to provide their customers with ever-improving broadband. They do, however, need improved and refocused existing programs that can help them and other broadband providers in meeting the needs of their customers.
Gardonville recognized a long time ago that having broadband available in the communities they serve is a strong economic development engine that can help our communities survive and thrive. Our communities have so many of the other essentials of a strong local economy and Gardonville’s broadband can do nothing but enhance our communities’ competitiveness. They are committed to that and will continue to work with the communities they serve to further the economic viability of our area.
Senator Klobuchar should be applauded for her focus on this important issue. Gardonville and their trade association, the Minnesota Telecommunications Alliance, are committed to working with Senator Klobuchar in developing sensible solutions that will stimulate our economy and provide a sustainable mechanism for broadband accessibility across Minnesota.