ECM Post Review: 2016 Broadband Summit calls for high-speed Internet
In today’s digital society, the Internet is king. A person can shop, talk, share, learn, conduct business or manage their bank account. With more things moving online, it is more important than ever to have Internet access readily available.
On May 26, Chisago County hosted its Broadband Summit at Splitrocks in Wyoming. The purpose of the summit was to discuss the need for better rural Internet access and how the county can go about doing that.
Present at the summit was North Branch Mayor Kirsten Hagen-Kennedy. The mayor was there to stress the importance of access to high-speed Internet.
“I want you to know that broadband and high-speed Internet is critical to create a region where people can live, learn, work and play,” she said. “Every child over the age of 8, even maybe younger, every toddler even, knows what the Internet is.”
Nearly 900 residents responded to a recent “got internet” survey, the details of which were reported at the meeting. According to the survey, 45 percent of people stated that if they had faster Internet they would use it to further their education. The survey also noted several small businesses in the Chisago County area are limited due to the quality of Internet they have available.
This statistic really struck home with Hagen-Kennedy and the summit’s guest speaker, Congressmen Rick Nolan. Nolan echoed the mayor’s support for broadband and the impact it would have on the area.
“Generally, the communities that grow and prosper are the ones that want to,” he said.
Nolan believes that Chisago County is a community that truly wants to prosper. To Nolan, “a community is a place where people can find good jobs, where they want to send their children to school and where they want to live.”
Both Nolan and Hagen-Kennedy stressed the fact that the area needs high-speed Internet in its rural areas to progress in the way that meets the area’s goals.
“Half of rural America is still struggling with dial-up,” Nolan said.
In some parts of the county, the easiest way for people to access the Internet is by going to a library or McDonald’s for free Wi-Fi. This is an issue that does not sit well with Hagen-Kennedy.
“You should go to McDonald’s because you want some fries, not because you need Internet,” she said.