ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Office of Broadband Development is now accepting grant applications from any individuals or businesses looking to capitalize on a new state resource which aims to bring reliable, high-speed internet service to currently lacking locations.
The Broadband Line Extension Connection Program was created through legislation Rep. Jordan Rasmusson, R-Fergus Falls, successfully led to enactment this year as a cost-effective approach to closing internet gaps throughout Minnesota. Specifically, the OBD is seeking to bring service to locations that currently do not have a wired broadband service of at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload.
“While high-speed internet service sometimes is taken for granted these days, many pockets still exist in Minnesota where homes and businesses have been left behind, unable to tap into this tool which is vital in today’s communications era,” Rasmusson said. “This new grant process will be a game-changer as we continue closing service gaps for those currently facing technological disadvantages.”
Every six months, the OBD will execute reverse auctions for addresses that have submitted applications. Internet providers then have 10 days to notify OBD they can provide service at a given location. Addresses which are not already served by a provider then could enter a reverse auction where broadband outfits can bid to extend service to one or more of the addresses on the list. Within 60 days, OBD will select the lowest-cost bidder with the state – using federal broadband funds – covering the cost.
“The reverse-auction process is a win-win situation because it connects internet providers with people looking for reliable service through the innovative use of already allocated federal broadband dollars,” Rasmusson said. “This funding is accessible to homeowners and businesses alike. I encourage anyone who may benefit from this new resource to apply and get their name in the queue soon to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Visit www.mn.gov/deed and enter “Broadband Line Extension Connection Program” in the search bar for more information and to apply. Prospective applicants also can call (651) 259-7610 to request a paper application or to apply over the phone with help from an OBD representative.
Rasmusson’s legislation (H.F. 3605) to create this system was included in a package of agriculture and drought relief (H.F. 3420) provisions which passed both the House and the Senate late in the 2022 session on its way to becoming law.