As originally posted in Blandin Foundation eNews…
This morning I received a call from a Dakota County resident near Lakeville. He sought me out in response a Strib broadband article. I could feel his frustration right through with his 4 Mb DSL connection. He purchased his home with the expectation of working from home. The reality is that his home service is both too slow and too unreliable for telework so he is forced into a long commute.
He has called his telephone company, talked to their techs on the roadside, called other nearby providers requesting service, complained to his county commissioner and county staff, strategized with his neighbors – all to no effect. As I gave him some advice about possible next steps, he noted that with his twelve hour work and commute day, there was little time left for broadband organizing. The ironic part of this story is that he moved to Lakeville from Nobles County where Lismore Telephone Cooperative provided fiber optic broadband services to his family farm.
I would love to have a numbers savvy analyst compute the lost value to Minnesotans who suffer from bad or no broadband. MN DOT computes a lost time value from sitting in traffic; the methodology could be similar. In this Lakeville resident example, a 50 mile round trip commute times 200 work days equals 10,000 miles at $.55 per mile, or $5500. If you assign a $20 value per hour commute times two hours per day, that is an additional $8,000 per year, for a total of $13,500 per year. Multiply this for thousands of Minnesotans, plus the many other assorted direct costs and missed opportunities. My desk calculator does not have enough zeroes!