The inside story on Minnetrista local issues: This blog is to inform citizens and give them a perspective on matters of importance in Minnetrista, MN. Opinions posted here are my own and do not reflect official positions of any public body or official.
Last fall, Mediacom, in partnership with the City of Minnetrista, applied for the Border-to Border Broadband Grant Program through the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED.) The purpose of the program is to aid in the expansion of broadband service to areas of Minnesota that are unserved or underserved.
This project will consist of three separate buildouts including areas in Ox Yoke Circle on the north side of Minnetrista, Northview Drive up to the southern edge of Whale Tail Lake, and Farmhill Road between St. Bonifacious and Six Mile Creek. The project will serve 80 unserved households and will provide speeds of 1 Gbps download and 50 Mbps upload. Construction for the project has an estimated completion date of December 2021.
There are few topics more agitative in rural Minnetrista than internet service, especially now that its become a necessity for most of us to function at work, school, purchase goods and services or conduct business of any kind. It is an infrastructure as necessary as roads, water and sewer but isn’t seen that way by many rural cities and townships.
If the roads are blocked by an accident, snow, or natural disaster the city will rush resources to clear the roads but if internet services go down it’s not their concern. It should be. Access to high-speed internet is at the top of most home buyer’s lists these days and property values in Minnetrista will reflect that. Having a vibrant real estate market is important to the city’s financial health.
If potential buyers happen to check out social media sites like Nextdoor.com, however, they will find pages and pages of complaints about slow speeds, unreliable connections and nonexistent customer service from major providers in Minnetrista and surrounding area.
I’m hoping the discussion Tuesday night focuses on proactive things the city can do like removing obstacles to entry for internet service providers, establishing a fund as we’ve done for road maintenance to finance this critical infrastructure, and having a staff person attend the virtual meetings of the Minnesota Broadband Task Force to stay up to speed on the resources they offer rural areas. Inviting providers to Minnetrista without making changes to how we do business with them will not result in better internet services for anyone.
Hiring a consultant may sound like a great idea but many consultants have loyalties to specific providers or technologies and ferreting out those biases can be a challenge if you’re an outsider. Minnetrista would do well to find some savvy residents to help it in this endeavor if they really want to get something done. But that’s the question, do they?
One of the broadband consultants I’ve been meeting with informed me of some GREAT news for Minnetrista today! I just checked and it’s available where I live and likely may be at your residence too.
No more slow DSL or cap-throttled satellite connections. From PC Magazine’s article Verizon Launches Unlimited 4G Home Internet for Rural Users: “Last week Verizon launched its own option across the US, and its prospect is more compelling because it’s much more widely available. Verizon’s rural home LTE is trulyunlimited, with speeds averaging 25Mbps, the carrier said. It costs $40/month for people with Verizon Wireless service, and $60/month for people without. You need to buy a $240 router.”
Mayor Whalen appears to think she’s going to solve Minnetrista’s dismal state of high-speed internet access in the two months before the general election.
What she doesn’t realize is we should’ve begun our research, established a goal and made a plan to reach it several years ago when I pushed to include it in Minnetrista’s strategic plan. Nothing substantive has been done under her leadership charting the course of our work sessions and council meetings all these years.
This company she’s “in discussions with” is just another fixed wireless provider like others residents already have access to and have not met their needs for streaming movies and simultaneous multiple users.
We need to define what “high-speed” means because many of these companies use the term loosely in their marketing messages but don’t show consumers what their average upload and download speeds are.
There are three tiers and multiple spectrums used in transmitting wireless signals and providers can actually transmit 5G (most people think that’s fastest) in the lower tier and have speeds slower than 4G signals transmitted in the mid-tier.
Mayor Whalen is a little late to the table convincing voters she cares about their internet access. The next four years will look just like the past six if she’s reelected.
My recommendation has been to pull together a broadband working group with the expertise to understand the technology, define and set our goal and lay out a plan to get there. Attempts at a quick fix with one provider are not going to lead to success.
I have been a strong voice on the city council trying to bring attention to the dismal state of high speed internet access in Minnetrista. I asked for it to be added as a goal in the city’s strategic plan many years ago but absolutely nothing of any substance has been done.
In examining Mediacom’s non-exclusive contract with the city it was brought to my attention that Mediacom had agreed to extend it’s system by January 2019 to the Phase 2 map below:
Please don’t call city hall if you live in the Phase 2 circle, like I do, and don’t have service. Mediacom has not extended its system where contractually obligated and the city needs to hold them accountable with fines until they do. Those fines should have started in January 2019. If they had we likely would have service to these areas by now.
A special shout out to Mr. Reinholdz, a resident who spoke at our council meeting “Persons to be heard” session last Monday night. He had some great insights into this issue.