Last week, state legislators agreed to invest a minimum of $70 million in an effort to significantly enhance Minnesota’s high-speed broadband infrastructure during the next budget cycle. This would represent the largest cash infusion into Minnesota’s Office of Broadband Development since it was established seven years ago. These funds could prove critical to connecting rural areas including Minnesota tribal lands, a number of which have remarkably low rates of broadband access.
In the meantime, there is support available in the form of the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) new Emergency Broadband Benefit. This program provides a discount of up to $50 per month to eligible households and up to $75 per month for households within qualifying Tribal lands. In addition, households that receive the Emergency Broadband Benefit are eligible for a one-time discount of up to $100 for the purchase of a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet as long as the participating household contributes between $10 to $50 toward the purchase of that device. Although a household becomes eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit as long as just one of its members meets at least one of five specific criteria, only one monthly service discount and one device discount are allowed per household. For more information, eligibility criteria, and how to apply, please visit the FCC’s Emergency Broadband website.