Cost more of a factor than access in rural broadband use

The percentage of Minnesotans using high speed internet access through broadband has increased in the last two years. But rural Minnesota users have a way to go before catching up with urban dwellers on broadband access.

That’s according to a new study released by the Center for Rural Policy and Development in St. Peter, MN. The telephone survey from March through July of this year had 800 responses from the Twin Cities, 500 from regional Minnesota cities and 400 responses from rural users. Broadband use is just less than 66% in Greater Minnesota and slightly more than 73% in the Twin Cities.

No matter where you live in the state, cost appears to be the biggest barrier to signing on to broadband. The survey notes nearly 64% of dial-up users in outstate Minnesota and almost 51% in the Twin Cities metro say broadband was too expensive. One example from MPR’s Dan Olson, a couple in Starbuck expects to pay $45 a month for a service of 1.5 megabits per second.

One important note is that broadband is used by about the same percentage (around 80%) in both rural and metro parts of Minnesota if you are between 22 and 35.

Access to high speed internet still is a problem, according to Marnie Werner at the Center for Rural Policy Development. She says there still are pockets of the state where broadband is not an option. Dave Peters wrote about Cook County’s broadband dilemma in previous posts to Ground Level.

The Center for Rural Policy and Development also asked about cell phone use. And there income and age might also explain the why even though the percentages of people with cell phones is roughly the same throughout the state, Minnesotans in the most rural areas are less likely to use them to send emails, or surf the web than even their counterparts in the regional cities like Brainerd or Mankato. But they do text about as much as anyone else.

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