Lessons from a Rural County - Episode 544 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the show, Christopher is joined by Senior Researcher Ry Marcattilio for a conversation about on-the-ground work in a rural county in Minnesota. After joining a listening session with local elected officials, the district representative, and the broadband action team, Christopher and Ry hop in the studio to reflect on what they heard. From grant requests that have gotten short-circuited by a local WISP with a history of acting against the public interest, to mapping woes, to resort towns frustrated by underinvestment and fragile telecommunications infrastructure, there are a lot of lessons which are applicable to rural counties facing similar problems all over the country.

This show is 29 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed

Transcript below. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index. See other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance here.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.


Christopher Mitchell (00:07):
Hey, before I welcome you into this show, which is a, it's a fun one. It's an interesting one. It's a little bit different from what we normally do. We have a new podcast that we'd love for you to check out. It is shorter interviews, and they're more focused on people doing digital equity work than some of the infrastructure coverage that we often do. Um, uh, that's sort of that subsection of digital equity. That show is building for Digital Equity, and you can find it at building for digital equity.com. Also, we have a really fun show. It's about every other week. It's a live video show, and you can find that on Connect This show.com and, uh, and definitely check it out. Give us a sense of it. We do still put up an audio version of it as well, if you prefer to just hear it. But, uh, we're planning some live versions later this year, and we hope you enjoy those shows. Hope you enjoy this show, and if you do, give them all a rating. We love ratings, uh, five star or better. I don't think this is better, but you could do five stars. So bare minimum, five stars. Thanks for listening. Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. I'm Christopher Mitchell at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in St. Paul, Minnesota, and I'm speaking with Brian Markita McCracken from Mankato, Minnesota.

Ry Marcattilio (01:23):
How's it going, Chris? Good to see you.

Christopher Mitchell (01:24):
It's going pretty good. I was trying to think if I could pop any more EMS into that introduction.

Ry Marcattilio (01:28):
<laugh>, you know, I started dropping the McCracken just because it's such a nightmare of the last name, of a last name, but, uh, people are welcome to use it.

Christopher Mitchell (01:34):
I, um, I finally figured out how to consistently spell Marcattilio without having to look it up. So I uhhuh. Um, McCracken was always the easy one

Ry Marcattilio (01:42):
For many years of my life. Uh, I carried around a card for pronouncing my own name, and, uh, only last year did I finally get rid of it,

Christopher Mitchell (01:48):
<laugh>. So you and I just had a trip, uh, to visit with a notable elected official and a lot of local officials in, uh, county, in, uh, rural Minnesota. And we're gonna fuzz it a little bit and not share exactly, uh, which one it was, or who we were meeting with, because we wanna share some of the, the stories that we heard, you know, and, and we don't always have everyone's permission to sort of share specific stories. But I think because we have a sense that these are the kinds of things that are happening regularly, and it reinforces some trends that I, that I think we thought were interesting to comment on.

Ry Marcattilio (02:25):
A lot of the lessons, uh, and the challenges that they face are universal, whether you're a small rural county in Minnesota or Nebraska or somewhere near Appalachia.

Christopher Mitchell (02:35):
I think the rural counties in the Nebraska are pretty large.

Ry Marcattilio (02:37):
Right. <laugh>. Okay. That's fair enough. <laugh>.

Christopher Mitchell (02:40):
Um, uh, but yes, uh, I think these issues and, and what's useful, I think is a lot of the people who are listening to this show, I think, um, it, it, it may be a helpful, uh, just sort of reality check on how other people perceive some of these issues and, and that sort of a thing. So, uh, I just, anyway, as, as we were listening to people talk about this, I just thought it was super useful to discuss it. Now, first of all, is this county is, is doing good work. Uh, it's, it's got a, a committee that's working hard on improving Internet access and they take it seriously. And so, if anything, this is a group of people that is better informed and more involved in improving Internet access than some other places where we see counties that have, um, you know, they don't even really have any staff for the county that, that can be tasked to pursue this because they have such a low population density and so therefore small tax base and, uh, and many more challenges.

Ry Marcattilio (03:35):
Yeah. Two things that struck me about it were, were number one, just how well and powerfully, uh, it seemed to have been run. Uh, so there was a, uh, a congressional rep, uh, you know, at the meeting. And, um, I think this county did a really good job of taking her to school, not only on, um, general broadband stuff, but, uh, the particular issues facing their county, which, uh, have been going on for, they've been doing broadband stuff. Uh, I would, I would say they've been a very active county for, you know, 4, 5, 6 years or something at this point. Maybe even longer.

Christopher Mitchell (04:05):
Yeah. Prior to the pandemic.

Ry Marcattilio (04:07):
So they know, they know what their problems are, and they have tried a number of solutions and been stymied a few times. Uh, and so I was kind of paying attention to how all the, uh, all the, how all the stuff was, was hitting, uh, their visitor. And the kind of quick hit the two minutes here, three minutes here from people who do work in public schools from, um, county commissioners, from, uh, representatives and council, uh, council people from different towns inside that county. I think townships too. Townships, I'm sorry. Yep. It was, it was super powerful, um, way to get their message and their needs across, uh, to their local rep.

Christopher Mitchell (04:40):
Yeah. And that representative was well-informed. Uh, this is not a person who, uh, is confused about what broadband is, how important it is. And I would say that in my experience with congressional representatives, this person, uh, was above average in terms of their understanding of the technologies. And, um, not just being able to say broadband's important, but having a sense of different grades of broadband and, and the actual challenges of getting it out to everyone. So that was very good to see. One of the things that I enjoyed was before the meeting even started, when we were talking to people, I was talking with a couple of the folks, and I forget exactly how we got into it, uh, but I think I was doing one of my typical complaints about how I'm disappointed that neither political party is particularly, um, covered themselves in glory in this in Minnesota for the previous few years.

And I specifically heard one of the people who is a local, uh, leader, a mayor, uh, he said that, um, he was tired of hearing that starlink was a solution. And, and I was kind of curious cuz I knew that representative Pat Garofalo has pushed that forward, um, in meetings. And in fact, one time on a lobby day on the hill on broadband, and this would've been in 2019, I think maybe even 2018, he said that next year there's gonna be a wireless solution that would solve the problem. And p Groo like drives a Tesla. He's known as being the more technical with it guy in the Republican caucus. And, and so I was just, I've always been annoyed by him and sort of this, like the Margaret will solve it. And then I looked it up and I saw this, this mayor actually said, oh no, he talking about a different Republican legislator, Jeremy Munson, who I did find actually Anne Tracy in the Blandin blog has a quote from him saying, we don't need the government to spend billions of dollars on this.

We've got starlink and they're solving the issue with a market-based solution. Um, you know, and I don't, you're a deep thinker on a lot of this stuff. I don't know that like government subsidies to starlink to be able to, um, do a lot of what they've done. Uh, and the government's ultimately writing a lot of checks to starlink is my understanding, to put things in orbit. I don't know that that's really a free market solution. <laugh> necessarily, like starlink certainly does a lot of things that are private sector ish, but like mm-hmm. <affirmative>, most of those Elon Musk companies rely on the government one way or another. So

Ry Marcattilio (06:53):
For sure they're early. Yeah. A lot of their early work, right, we know is co-signed. Uh, and I wouldn't say that I am a, a, a scholar of starlink, but, uh, I feel pretty comfortable in saying that starlink wouldn't be what it is today without a lot of those early connections to, uh, federal subsidies. And, and the, the connections they made there, they did get shut out of, uh, Ardo, which I think is important for those of us who do work in this space in considering whether or not those who are experts at the federal level consider starlink to be an actual solution that's gonna help households who have no, uh, Internet connectivity now. But, well,

Christopher Mitchell (07:24):
Especially because one of the things that the county people were talking about was, uh, looking at some of the other counties that are adjacent to the metro area and how important economic growth has been to enable them to make infrastructure improvements without having to significantly raise taxes, uh, or take on debt, which was a priority for some of the local leaders and say what you will about starlink, there's no business that's gonna move its business to a place to use starlink. That's not something that happens.

Ry Marcattilio (07:51):
Right. You, I've never heard, I've never heard of anybody saying anything remotely close to that. So, absolutely. And then, and there's no local infrastructure, right? Uh, um, that gets put into place when, I mean, you've got some, uh, relay towers that get put on the ground here and there, but when it comes to starlink delivering service to folks, there's absolutely even less than the monopoly cable and telephone providers, there's no infrastructure in the ground whatsoever. And so, you know, I, I worry most about starlink. Um, you know, even aside from the fact that Elon Musk seems to like to use his many large companies to, uh, leverage himself out of trouble when he gets into it. Uh, and that means, you know, they are, uh, maybe less sustainable in the long term. Um, there's, there's nothing stopping him from just raising the rates on, uh, both the monthly rate for the base service for starlink or the, the cost of the, of the dish. And we've seen that happen already. I think it's twice over the last year. And so it's, it's absolutely not a sustainable solution for the majority of people who live in these rural counties who maybe have a little bit, uh, lower of a household income.

Christopher Mitchell (08:47):
And on top of that, um, the people who say starlink is gonna solve the problem for everyone are invariably not employed by starlink. I think that's an important point. Everyone I've talked to who's employed by starlink and the press that I've seen from starlink suggests that they view it as an important solution. It's, and I think so too. Like, I think it's tremendously important, and I think some of our allies don't understand how important it is to be out there in the suite of solutions, but they are not gonna be covering rural Minnesota. They don't have that kind of capacity. And the only people who think that they do are the people who are, are going to bed telling themselves Fanta fantasy tales about how the private market will solve rural broadband challenges. And they just want it to be true, even though, uh, no one that actually follows the tech really thinks that that's gonna be happening. I I wanna ask you what else, what else struck you in terms of some of the topics that came up over the course of the meeting?

Ry Marcattilio (09:37):
It was, there were a, a lot of ground covered. Um, I think one of the more interesting points that was brought up, uh, I think, I think it was a, um, a mayor in one of the, in one of the towns, uh, he was also a, uh, a realtor was talking about, um, you know, the reality for, I think what is true for a lot of these smaller Minnesota towns, which are, uh, uh, Minnesota counties, which have a lot of lakes there, uh, a lot of 'em become summer resort towns. And so he was talking about how, you know, they've, uh, it's a relatively small population, but when summer comes and people come to the cabin or go to the lake, that's, that swells significantly and

Christopher Mitchell (10:11):
It like freex

Ry Marcattilio (10:12):
Yeah. And it dramatically overloads their, uh, even their basic cell phone infrastructure, um, in that calls will not go through to, uh, to, and and it's not just, you know, missing a call on a Saturday afternoon, um, for something that doesn't really matter. You know, his business depends on this and, uh, for a lot of other people too. And I think it's a lesson that a lot of our monopoly owned infrastructure is not as robust as we tend to think it is. You know, we see the cell towers every day when we drive to and from work, and we just assume that there's a permanence there that begets a certain, like robustness or resilience. And that's not the case. We saw it in Texas, um, when the electric grid failed. We see it in this little town in, in rural Minnesota, where the cellular grid gets overloaded, uh, every single summer. Yes.

Christopher Mitchell (10:54):
And, and this is something that we see also in Cape Cod where Sean is, and also where I've spent some time with a lot of folks that do really, um, good work out there. I've spent time, um, uh, talking with folks regarding Falmouth net and they're in a similar situation where they're cable and telecommunications infrastructure is overwhelmed every summer. But the fact that that's just three or four months a year means that there's not a lot of reason for why the big companies that are focused on that internal rate of return, they're not gonna make those investments to improve service during those high month years. Because why should they? It's not, it's not gonna provide the same kind of investment as if it, it put that money into a network where it would be used 12 months a year. So that's just a, a classic issue with a market-based system is that the incentives may not align with this being basic infrastructure, which is what people demand.

Uh, and that leads right into what I thought was really interesting, and I don't know if you found it as interesting, but the number of times that we heard people saying, I pay a lot of taxes, I pay, I, you know, I live in a high taxed house. Like I, I guess homes on lakes in Minnesota apparently are taxed higher than others. I'm, uh, I've never, my, I've never, uh, not only do I not have a lake home, um, um, a lot of people in Minnesota do, but I've just haven't spent a lot of time at Lake Homes. I don't really know what the property tax situation is. Um, but that, that came up over and over again and people associate an alienation that comes from saying, I pay high taxes. Why do I not have good Internet access? This is ridiculous.

Ry Marcattilio (12:23):
Well, first of all, Chris, I mean, I think we have to take away your Minnesota, uh, resident card. If you don't true, have a cabin or have a, a family member to whose cabin you go to every single summer, I think that's a, a real shortcoming that you need to come up with. I think, you

Christopher Mitchell (12:36):
Know, I also have a lack of people that are like, Chris, come spend a weekend with me where I cannot get away from you.

Ry Marcattilio (12:40):
<laugh> <laugh>. That's probably also true. Yeah. I think this disconnect, uh, between that, that people might see from the outside between, uh, how people view the amount of taxes, the amount of taxes that they pay, and I mean, Internet access is basic infrastructure, uh, without which they can't do so much, uh, in their work lives and working from home and going to school and maybe visiting the doctor or whatever. Um, we heard that over and over and over again. Um, and I think it's a real reminder two folks doing this work, that that can be a powerful talking point, especially for your, your elected officials.

Christopher Mitchell (13:15):
Yeah. I don't think people have that lack of association in their head. I mean, I think they, they associate taxes, infrastructure, Internet access in ways that I'm like, well, of course you, the taxes are unrelated to how Internet AC infrastructure works. But, uh, this is magic to most people. Uh, you know, they don't really have a sense of, I mean, one of the things that, that we both noticed and we talked about is, uh, many of them, uh, were not totally familiar with who provided their Internet service. And so you can imagine that they don't really understand, uh, always whether or not their tax dollars are going to Frontier or, you know, to the extent that they are through the, through, um, the USF fund or the Universal Service Fund or things like that, they don't really fully understand. Heck, I, I'm still nervous when I talk about it as to whether or not I'm getting it right cuz it's complicated. But it's worth noting, like you said, people have that association, this is infrastructure. We pay for infrastructure with taxes. I pay a lot of taxes. Why am I not getting the infrastructure?

Ry Marcattilio (14:14):
I think another interesting thing is, is that they associate this as a large enough problem that that only government can fix, which is a little bit interesting because I think we would agree that this is generally speaking a more conservative, uh, county on, on the whole. And so the fact that they see this as, uh, the solutions as something that only government can bring is telling, I think, um, I was reflecting on the problems that they were facing in this county, um, with their local Internet access and it constantly going out or, um, there being regular outages on the weekend or, or during the summer or whatever. With, uh, the opposite experience in extreme Northern Minnesota where you've got all these electric cooperatives, uh, ones like Paul Bunyan, uh, let's

Christopher Mitchell (14:53):
Telephone cooperatives,

Ry Marcattilio (14:53):
I'm sorry, telephone, telephone cooperatives. Yep. Um, deploying hundreds upon hundreds of miles of good fiber out to extremely sparsely populated, uh, areas. They're often doing a wonderful job of leveraging state and federal grant programs to, uh, local matches to increase their reach. Uh, and you know, North Dakota, South Dakota, Northern Minnesota, these are rural areas that are even more rural than the county we visited yesterday. And, uh, they have solved this problem for, for a lot of people.

Christopher Mitchell (15:19):
Yeah. That was one of the comments that one of the people had made. They, they were like, yeah, my parents live out in this area. There's <laugh> way less dense than we are, and they have great Internet service from a local cooperative. Um, there's also a lot of love in the room for local telephone companies in the region that have done a really good job. Um, there was several that, uh, had worked in partnership with, uh, with townships and the county and in others, I guess, um, to leverage some state funds. And, you know, I, I do think that sometimes there's a sense of, people are like, well, these people are against governments, you know, they vote more conservatively. I I, I think that, you know, for many of them they're just thinking, well, as long as we're gonna have government programs, like it should be, this is what should be done.

And I actually think that to the extent that those programs fail, they're kind of like, what is even the point? You know, like we have and, and I, and I, you know, I don't want to get too political, but I feel like they look at some of the things that government tries to take on and they're like, I have no faith that you can do that if you can't even get a wire to my home to provide me with basic infrastructure. So, you know, I think that's, there's some of that. But, um, but there's definitely just, it wasn't just us talking about local providers. They were like, yes, local providers, no frontier. Awful. Uh, and there was one other company that even though many people weren't that familiar with the, uh, the who they may have had for service, there was one company name that caused everyone to sort of nod and look around and talk about their horror stories. And that was a company we're familiar with, uh, LTD in this part of, of Minnesota where just the, the horror stories were horrific <laugh> having bad service.

Ry Marcattilio (16:56):
Yeah. I mean, I think, you know, at least half of the horror stories we heard, uh, eventually traced their way back to LTD as an entity that could be part of a solution, maybe if it, if it wanted to be. There certainly is interest from folks in the county to, uh, I mean, they're working with, uh, other providers to extend lines and develop, uh, more comprehensive regional solutions. Um, but you know, it seemed like, uh, from what we heard in the room, LTD was not, not only not interested in it, but, uh, deliberately getting in their way much of the time over the last, especially two years.

Christopher Mitchell (17:29):
And one of those things, and I, we don't rem we don't remember exactly whether it was LTD Frontier or a different company, um, but there was a couple of companies that were discussed, and one of the people had gone so far as to repeatedly contact the attorney general from Minnesota because, uh, this service didn't just, you know, it wasn't just unreliable. It actually stopped working many evenings at the same time in primetime. And, and to me that seems like, you know, just actual, um, illegality frankly, if you're selling a service and you're having that routine level of interruption, uh, and I just have to say that it sounds to me like the Attorney General's office did not cover itself in glory. It sounded like from this person's perception. The Attorney General sort of talked with that provider and then sort of shrugged and said, yeah, do it, do the best you can. We don't, we don't know.

Ry Marcattilio (18:19):
And yeah, another one of those things that, uh, like, uh, really just drains all faith you have that your state government, your elected officials can do anything to solve this problem. Yeah.

Christopher Mitchell (18:27):
And I, I understand that, uh, a ISPs can have a bad day, and I understand that Attorney General's offices have to pick and choose, but you and I have heard over the years remarkable complaints. I mean, we're talking about important telephone services, being down and, and not having, uh, you know, being been repaired in a reasonable time. And, and I just, I feel like I don't understand why the Attorney General's office, I don't know if they have bad law where they just don't have the ability really to go after them or if it's not settled. But I do know that in North Carolina and, and Georgia, we've seen Attorney General's offices actually get results, uh, by getting out there and doing the hard work. So, uh, definitely disappointment in terms of that and something that I think we would like to look into to be able to do more specifically reporting on, uh, to be able to share what was going on there.

Ry Marcattilio (19:16):
Good idea.

Christopher Mitchell (19:16):
Uh, and then, you know, one other thing that we heard, I think that was interesting was one person that, um, they were describing, uh, some of the ways that they used their connection for telehealth related things. This is a person that, um, had worked, um, had been in a, it was a veteran of the United States military for, um, many years, I think more than two decades. And, uh, and this person was using Telemental health facilities over their connection, which was not very robust and unable to really support them. And then I just thought it was interesting that they sort of removed a preconception that I had because they talked about how they were looking to speak with a dietician, and they eventually had to use, do a video chat for one. And I was expecting them to say, you know, somewhere in a core metro area or Rochester or something like that. And, uh, and this person noted that it was Hibbing. And so I think it's a reminder that Telemental health Telehealth services both could be beneficial for people who are living in rural areas, but also people who might have a specialty in a rural area can then tap into a larger audience to support, um, them being, offering, offering a specialty in a small, uh, in a small density area. Low density area.

Ry Marcattilio (20:24):
Yeah. Uh, I mean, anybody who has lived in a rural part of the country knows that over the last two decades, uh, there has been an exodus of, uh, not only mental health, but just health services in general and even more so for specialty services. And so, uh, a lot of rural America has been left behind by this. And one of the silver linings of the pandemic has been the, the boom in, uh, in telehealth and Telemental health services. And a lot of people are taking advantage of 'em because they work. Um, and it's a reminder of how important it is to, uh, to get this right. And especially for, for people like this who, uh, they've got no local options whatsoever.

Christopher Mitchell (21:01):
Yeah. And it's also, I think it's not a binary thing. Even if people have a crummy connection, they're probably gonna try and make it work. And I think that is, um, to the extent that that might be wasting their time, they might be missing appointments or have ineffective appointments when they have significant problems, you know, that is a, uh, loss to the economy. It's a loss to productivity. And so one of the things that I, I come back to as I think about this, is who should be making investments to solve these problems? Uh, I forget who I was talking to. Um, and they reminded me that, um, this is on a recent podcast, uh, that, that previously, you know, in like 20 17, 20 18, we heard more of, well, if you want good Internet access, you shouldn't live in rural areas. And, um, and I don't think that is an argument that we hear much anymore good riddens to bad rubbish <laugh>.

And, um, but it's a reminder to me that, um, people need to understand that, you know, if people in rural counties in Minnesota cannot access, uh, quality medical care, uh, quality education, quality opportunities for economic advancement, which is a nice way of saying jobs, good jobs, <laugh> mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, you know, we are all missing out. Minnesota's economy is less strong. We are not getting the full use of our, of, uh, the, the people that we have and their productivity and we are all losing out. Uh, so this is one of those things that, you know, even people that don't have kids pay their taxes, that, that fund the local schools, we all benefit from it. And, uh, and I think we need to think of it that way. I think people do think about it that way pretty naturally.

Ry Marcattilio (22:33):
Yeah. This is one of the, one of the last kind of, uh, major lessons I was gonna talk about that we heard in the room, um, which is that sometimes at the county level, folks don't want to, uh, go after solutions when you're using collective public tax dollars to, uh, solve the problem only for certain parts of the county. In other words, if it's not a universal solution, they don't wanna use any public funds, which have been universally contributed to. And I totally get where that idea is coming from, but I think it's a mistake to see local tax dollars as, um, a part of a zero sum framework. What benefits me here, even even here at Mankato, uh, benefits you up there in the cities. And so we all see our economic development go up, we see students scores go up, uh, we see more community engagement and everybody becoming a better citizen. I think that's something that's important to remember for other folks who are working at the county level who are facing some of these same problems.

Christopher Mitchell (23:28):
Yeah. I mean, if you put a, uh, industrial park and you support that with infrastructure investments in the northern part of a county, and you know, people in the southern part of the county arguably aren't gonna get as much benefit. They're not gonna be driving on those roads. They might not be employed there. Uh, and so I feel like it's a, it's an odd distinction to say we think that if we put broadband into, you know, um, these pockets that don't have it, if we pay to do that with everyone's taxpayer dollars, it's not benefiting enough the the whole county. And I, I just don't think that's a conversation that that holds together. But at the same time, uh, I can respect that they, if they want, if that's what people wanna do in that county. Okay. Um, I just think that over time we won't see as much of that because of the same sort of thing where, you know, the county's, um, you know, like, I don't know, like I haven't had any relatives murdered recently. Do I really need to pay so much for the police? Like <laugh>, you know, <laugh>. Um, so I mean, there's just these arguments can, um, I feel like they're, they can be clearer in our head when we don't interrogate them. That's something that's pretty much true of most politics, I think. I guess

Ry Marcattilio (24:34):
That's true. I mean, it's also important to remember that we're talking about a long game here. Fiber put into the ground today. Uh, we'll be serving folks 30, 40, 50 years down the road. And so if we succumb to the temptation to only look five years down the road, or even 10 years down the road, we're missing 80% up to 80% of the picture, um, for how we can, we need to evaluate, uh, the trade-offs for, uh, doing some things and not others.

Christopher Mitchell (24:58):
Yeah. Let's look at RS Fiber for example, in Renville, Renville and Sibley Counties, mostly Sibley County, right? Uh, Sibley County ended up not really participating in that. I think it was foolish on their part. I actually think the county is worse off because, uh, the, the county didn't do it and sort of left it up to individual townships. Um, frankly, more of the county would have fiber right now, I would imagine possibly all of it, if the county had been involved, the county instead allowed it to happen. So we do have increased economic growth in those towns, right? And so that actually means that the, all the county's property tax revenues are going up because the county invests money into an area, that area becomes more attractive for business and residential, uh, development. And then the tax base of the whole county goes up and everyone benefits.

And I feel like that's an important part of this that sometimes gets left out is, is what you're saying. You got that, that long-term understanding of Sure. Like we're gonna put a lot of money in there over the next five years, but that's really like a 20 year investment to have that area grow and have more economic opportunity. And, um, you know, frankly, people in the Twin Cities are moving out, uh, you know, to like, uh, to, to these areas in many cases. Uh, perhaps not the most sustainable development patterns always, but like nonetheless, uh, we are seeing, uh, people, that's one of the things we heard is that some of the homes on the Lake Shores that used to be, uh, you know, part-time, uh, resident are now people are moving in to live there full-time. You know, I think, I just think that there's needs to be a better understanding and appreciation of the need to make these investments and then that it will enable the growth because the areas that don't have this are the ones that are shrinking and people are moving away from those places into the areas that do have it.

Ry Marcattilio (26:40):
Well said. I don't, and I think this is a problem that's only gonna

Ry Marcattilio (26:42):
Gain steam over the next 10 years.

Christopher Mitchell (26:45):
Yeah. I mean, this is the Interstates, railroads, um, electricity, they moved towns, right? Towns shrunk Towns grew based on whether they had the infrastructure of the day or not. We've been seeing that. We will continue to see that. Uh, although, um, you know, I think, I think people in these communities may get fiber faster than I do in St. Paul <laugh>. So

Ry Marcattilio (27:06):
Unfortunately, I think that's true.

Christopher Mitchell (27:08):
Ry it's been great to, uh, to catch up with you, uh, to, to hang out a little bit and, uh, to then record the show. Thank you.

Ry Marcattilio (27:15):
Same. Thank you very much for having me. We have transcripts for this and other podcasts available@muninetworks.org slash broadband bits. Email us@podcastmuninetworks.org with your ideas for the show. Follow Chris on Twitter, his handles at Community Nets, follow muni networks.org stories on Twitter, the handles at muni networks. Subscribe to this and other podcasts from I lsr, including building Local Power Local Energy Rules, and the Composting for Community Podcast. You can access them anywhere you get your podcasts. You can catch the latest important research from all of our initiatives if you subscribe to our monthly newsletter@ilsr.org. While you're there, please take a moment to donate your support in any amount. Keeps us going. Thank you to Arne Hesby for the song Warm Duck Shuffle, licensed through Creative Commons. This was the Community Broadband Bits podcast. Thanks for listening.