(Saint Paul Pioneer Press (MN) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 27--Minnesota is no broadband backwater but remains well short of its goal to make high-speed Internet available to every resident.
But the state has made progress, according to a report Monday by the Governor's Task Force on Broadband.
The state defines "broadband" as Internet connections with minimum download speeds of 10 to 20 megabits per second, and minimum upload speeds of 5 to 10 megabits.
Just over 71 percent of Minnesota households have such broadband access via wired providers, such as Comcast. Factoring in wireless broadband, typically via cell phone service, and that figure come to nearly 75 percent. This is an increase of 18 percentage points since April 2011.
This is the first task force report that regards wireless-data access as robust and speedy enough to fit the state's definition of broadband. Such cellular service is primarily provided via Long Term Evolution data networks operated by wireless carriers AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint.
Among U.S. states, Minnesota ranks 23rd in average broadband speeds, according to the report, and eighth in broadband adoption. The District of Columbia, Massachusetts and Virginia rank the highest.
The state, in goals specified during the 2010 legislative session, said it is aiming for 100 percent broadband adoption by 2015. It describes this as "border-to-border high-speed Internet and cell phone access throughout Minnesota."
It also said it aims to be among the top five U.S. states in broadband adoption and connection speeds by that year, and in the top 15 globally in broadband penetration.
Much work remains.
In nearly two dozen Minnesota counties, wired or wireless broadband is available to less than 20 percent of the population. These include the Arrowhead's Lake and Cook counties, Fillmore and Houston counties in the far southeast, and clusters in the central and far-southwest parts of the state.
In the report, the task force recommends establishing a $100 million broadband-infrastructure matching-grant fund to promote broadband expansion for unserved or underserved parts of the state.
The task force has operated since 2011, when Gov. Mark Dayton established it via an executive order. It has 15 members, led by former Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher. She is now director of the Minnesota High Tech Association.
Monday's report is the task force's third such document. Read the report, along with documents from previous years, at connectmn.org/bbtaskforce.
Find Julio Ojeda-Zapata at ojezap.com.
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