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Tribune Editorial: High-speed broadband is critical statewide

Minnesota is becoming a state of haves and have nots -- on the world's information highways -- the Internet.

For most of west central Minnesota, this is not a good thing.

A report issued Friday states that Minnesota needs to make significant improvements in order to meet a goal of statewide high-speed broadband access by 2015.

This is a worthy goal.

High-speed broadband access is just as important -- for businesses, homes, education and government -- as electricity and telephone access was during the early part of the 20th century.

In today's information economy, the lack of high-speed broadband access can restrict access to business, education and many other benefits.

The state task force defines the appropriate Internet speed of 10 megabits per second. This is 15 times faster than the current federal definition of broadband.

More than 80 percent of Minnesota does not meet this new proposed standard.

This lack of adequate broadband restricts appropriate development of new communications -- such as two-way video usage in banking or telemedicine.

Much of the upgrade for Internet access development will be funded by private companies and the federal government. West central Minnesota needs to be at the forefront of the high-speed broadband development in the state.

If the region is not, we will soon find ourselves left behind in many things -- business, education and communications, just to name a few.

High-speed broadband is as critical as electricity and telephone access.