Why Many Rural Minnesotans Still Don’t Have High-speed Internet

Why Many Rural Minnesotans Still Don’t Have High-speed Internet

Tim Gihring | Twin Cities Business

Aaron Brown was a junior at Cherry High School, in a little farming community just outside Hibbing, when the internet rolled into his classroom. A single computer with a modem, so that the teacher could pull onto the information superhighway and show students the roadside attractions. And if the students were good, if they turned in their work on time and paid attention, they too could go for a spin — explore, as Brown said, “the edges of what’s out there.”

This was in the late 1990s, years after the internet had become widely available in other schools in more populous places. Brown had grown up on the nearby Sax-Zim Bog, where his family ran a junkyard out of one trailer home and lived in another. He went on the internet just enough in those early days to decide it was stupid, and said as much at the Minnesota State High School League Speech Tournament in 1998.

He won.

Brown eventually did two things unusual for someone who thought so little of the internet: He became a teacher of online courses through Hibbing Community College, and he started a regional commentary blog, Minnesota Brown. His wife became a blogger, too, launching a money-saving site called Northern Cheapskate.

By then, the family had moved to Balsam Township, about 20 miles from Hibbing, to a house at the end of a dirt road they have to plow and grade themselves. There they discovered just how bad internet service could be on the Iron Range…(Read the full story)

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