Budget agreement includes $70M for broadband

The state budget agreement reached by the legislative leaders and Gov. Walz includes more funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant program.

The good news is that it will provide $70 million in funding, the largest investment in the program since it was created in 2014.

The bad news is the Governor’s own broadband task force says the state needs $120 million this biennium to reach the 2022 broadband speed goals of 20 mbps download and 3 mbps upload and to stay on track to hit the 2026 target of 100 mbps download and 20 mbps upload. The task force has stated that 3 mbps upload is “inadequate to support remote business and education needs and can no longer be considered high-speed broadband.”

In recent comments, legislative leaders left the door open for additional broadband funding before the budget is finalized in the upcoming special session or to provide additional funding during the 2022 legislative session.       

In its most recent report from December 2020, the Governor’s Broadband Taskforce reported that 92% of Minnesotans have access to internet that meets the 2022 goal, while 88% have access to service at the 2026 goal. The vast majority of underserved and unserved properties are in Greater Minnesota.