The Region Nine Development Commission is hosting a broadband summit in about six weeks, which is intended to explore ways to improve broadband access to homes, businesses, and organizations throughout the nine county area.

Region Nine Executive Director Nicole Griensewic Mickelson.

Executive Director Nicole Griensewic Mickelson said, “It’s a fundamental issue for the region; no matter what age and who you represent, to have access to really high-quality broadband is essential.”

In Region Nine, 24.9 percent of all households were under the state broadband goal of 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload speeds in 2017, and Griensewic Mickelson told KTOE’s Don and Dan on The Morning Blend that some of them don’t even realize it. “Some people are like, ‘Oh, I think mine’s alright,’ and then, some of the stories that we’re hearing are, until their grandkids come over for the holidays and say, ‘Grandpa, your internet is terrible – this is so slow.'”

The region includes Blue Earth, Brown, Faribault, Martin, Le Sueur, Nicollet, Sibley, Waseca and Watonwan counties, and broadband access can be widely varied depending upon the specific location. For example, Griensewic Mickelson said in the Mankato metro, “Not so bad. But we have some really rural pockets of the region where the access obviously could improve. One-quarter of the households.”

Griensewic Mickelson said the summit will include people from across the state who have successfully used grant money to improve broadband service in their area, “Sharing success stories and working with the service providers to really kind of talk through what are some of the options. The morning is going to be kind of a broadband 101; talking about the issue, how it can improve, etc.”

The summit takes place Thursday, April 5th from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the South Central Service Cooperative in Upper North Mankato.