Cloquet Broadband Committee recommends broadband partnership
The Cloquet Broadband Committee said the responses from its broadband survey showed 80% of the 683 respondents felt there were not enough options in broadband service.
CLOQUET — During a Cloquet City Council work session Tuesday, April 5, the Cloquet Broadband Committee provided an update to the council about the responses to its broadband survey and the next steps the committee will be taking.
Holly Hansen, the city's community development director and a member of the broadband committee, said the county at large struggles with broadband issues.
After receiving survey responses and continuing to research solutions, the next steps for the committee include finding a partner to help plan and work with the city to develop a better broadband infrastructure.
After interviewing companies in the area, Hansen said the committee recommends moving forward with a possible partnership with Consolidated Telephone Company.
Out of all the providers and companies interviewed, Hansen said CTC was the most ready to begin working on improvements.
"Our recommendation would be moving froward to initiate conversations to see if there is any interest from them in working with us," she said.
Hansen added the committee received 683 responses to its broadband survey, and 500 of those responses came from the second push of the survey from earlier this year.
Improving connectivity in the city would allow for benefits not only in personal use but businesses as well as the pandemic has made remote work an option for people, Hansen said.
"We need to use COVID-19 as a springboard," she said.
With the population growth in Cloquet, Hansen said the city should plan to accommodate for increasing broadband needs as well.
Councilor Lara Wilkinson, who is also a member of the committee, said the cost of service in the area is another aspect survey respondents identified as a barrier to having or upgrading their current service.
Hansen listed some other statistics from the survey, including 80% of respondents who said they felt there are not enough service providers in the area and 40% who said the services offered are not adequate.
City administrator Tim Peterson added that the committee will move forward in planning with CTC and what that will look like for the city.
"CTC aligns very closely with the goals as well as the support the city of Cloquet would need to make this a reality," he said.