Report: Broadband spreading rapidly, but rural-area adoption lagsby Bob Kelleher, Minnesota Public Radio
Duluth, Minn. — A new report shows broadband internet is rapidly spreading across Minnesota, but still sparse in less-populated parts of the state.
The St. Peter, Minn.-based Center for Rural Policy and Development's report finds almost 70 percent of all households statewide have broadband internet, but only 65 percent of rural residents have adopted broadband.
Research Manager Marnie Werner said the high-speed connections are most scarce outside of cities and towns.
"[They] don't even have to be that far outside of the town, but they're just far enough that extra equipment is required to boost the signal to get it out to them," Werner said.
Werner said it may take government programs to provide the financial incentives for providers to invest in rural broadband.
Minnesota's older and lower-income residents are falling behind others in both computer ownership and high speed connections, Werner said, adding that a quarter of rural residents who don't have a computer say they don't because they are too old.
"Do we want to concentrate on programs that will encourage seniors to pick up computers and discover the wonders of the internet?" she asked.
The center has been tracking the availability of broadband since 2001 when high speed connections reached only 6 percent of Minnesota households.