Task force says it will cost $1.4B to achieve border-to-border broadband

The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband recently released its 2017 Annual Report, which outlined the progress and ongoing challenges related to efforts to connect the entire state to reliable high-speed broadband.

The report noted that since its creation four years ago, the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program has helped leverage private investment to connect more than 34,000 households and 5,200 businesses with high-quality internet access. However, in the letter to Gov. Dayton that accompanies the report, Task Force Chairperson Margaret Anderson Kelliher writes, “With 26.55 percent of households in rural Minnesota lacking access to broadband at the state speed goals of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload, demand for this program continues to outpace its funding.”

Despite recent state investments, the report states that 252,000 households in Minnesota still lack broadband access. The total cost to connect these remaining households is estimated at nearly $1.4 billion. The task force recommends a state investment of $34.7 million per year for the next four years into the broadband grant program in order to connect all of the remaining households . The rest of the money needed to reach this goal is expected to come from federal funding and private investments.

The task force report also recommends $500,000 in biennual funding for the State Office of Broadband Development until the state reaches its broadband goals.