WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) released the following op-ed, 'Expanding Access to Broadband':
In 2023, you can’t fully participate in our economy if you can’t get online. That’s why I introduced a bill in 2020 to deliver high-speed internet to every zip code in America. It was ultimately included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and we just learned that Minnesota will be receiving a game-changing grant of more than $650 million for broadband projects over the next five years.
Broadband is critical to access everything from education to health care to economic opportunity. Just ask the high school student who had to drive 40 minutes from home to a liquor store parking lot to take her online biology quizzes or the rural doctors who have to sit in their cars at McDonald’s to read x-rays because they don’t have reliable internet at home.
While Minnesota ranks first in the country for internet access according to U.S. News and World Reports, data from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that nearly 136,000 homes and small businesses in Minnesota are still completely unserved. For example, in Murray County, more than 40 percent of households don’t have dependable access, and in Pine County, more than half of households don’t have broadband at high enough speeds. Now, because of this law, we have new resources to deliver broadband to people in every corner of our state. Importantly, the legislation has a clawback provision in it, so if the providers don’t use the money like they’re supposed to, the state will be able to get it back to give to someone else who is ready to do the work.
Broadband expansion will have a huge impact, especially in our rural communities. There are younger Minnesotans who will be able to start their careers in their hometowns. There are small businesses that will be in a better position to compete with a full set of digital tools at their fingertips. There are farmers who will be able to use precision agriculture technology to increase their crop yields.
Now that we have secured this federal investment, I am going to work every day to make sure it gets out the door and into the communities that need it most. This funding is for all of the workers, farmers, and business owners who want the best possible shot at success in the 21st century economy.