ST. PAUL – Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, said he supports a series of proposals House Republicans unveiled on Wednesday that would increase high-speed Internet access throughout Minnesota, particularly in underserved regions of Greater Minnesota.
The proposals total $35 million, including $7 million dedicated to improving broadband access for Minnesota students through new grant programs.
"This would help people in places such as Kingston that do not currently enjoy the same quality of high-speed Internet service that have become second nature to citizens in other parts of our state," Urdahl said. "Many of the daily activities families, businesses and local governments conduct revolve around the Internet and this proposal helps eliminate some of the black holes in service."
Of the $7 million for broadband funding in the supplemental education proposal, $5 million could be used as grants for broadband Wi-Fi hotspots, while $2 million could be allocated to build broadband capacity. Inner city, suburban, and rural districts could use the grants to purchase mobile hotspots for student use or provide Wi-Fi hotspots to adult education classes and displaced workers.
School districts statewide can receive up to $100,000 for equipment and operating costs to improve broadband connectivity.
Along with broadband education funding, the House Republican proposal features an additional $28 million for rural broadband expansion. Combined with federal Connect America Funds, Minnesotans would see a historic broadband infrastructure investment. The funding focuses on unserved and underserved areas, as well as areas with larger numbers of low-income households.