Minnesota approved $68.4 million for broadband infrastructure fund

(ABC 6 NEWS) – Thursday morning, the state of Minnesota was approved for $68.4 million to increase access to affordable, high-speed internet under the American Rescue Plan’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund.

As a response to the pandemic, the fund supports broadband infrastructure, prioritizing households in rural and remote areas.

Minnesota is one of eight states that have been approved to receive the funding.

It is estimated that more than 23,000 Minnesotan homes and businesses will be connected through the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program.

Senator Amy Klobuchar says approximately 144,000 rural Minnesotans live in areas that do not have access to high-speed internet.

"We saw firsthand in the pandemic, that put a big fat magnifying glass on these problems, where you’d have rural school districts where a fourth of the kids wouldn’t be able to do their classes online," said Senator Klobuchar.

Other senators also spoke on the funding’s significance for telehealth services and equal business opportunities for Americans.

Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen said it’s not only important for the internet to be accessible– but affordable too, saying, "My view is that access to affordable highspeed internet is to the 21st century what access to electricity is to the 20th century– it’s essential."

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris recently announced the administration has secured commitments from 20 leading internet service providers to offer eligible households high-speed, high-quality internet plans for no more than $30 per month. This helps to close the digital divide for millions of Americans who could not previously have afforded internet service.