News from the Blandin on Broadband Blog
Minnesota Broadband Policy
Danna MacKenzie was named the director of the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development. http://wp.me/p3if7-2ta Previously Danna was the director of IS for Cook County. Danna has been a member of both the Minnesota Broadband Task Force and the Blandin Broadband Strategy Board.
At the monthly meeting, the Broadband Task Force heard from satellite providers and discussed the latest iteration of the report due at the end of the year. The discussion was heated at times. The draft discussed at the meeting is available online. http://wp.me/p3if7-2sj The Task Force meets again on December 3 to work on the report again. http://wp.me/p3if7-2tc
Latest Connect Minnesota Reports
A recent Connect Minnesota report indicates that 74.5 percent of Minnesota households can access fixed and mobile broadband at speeds of at least 10 Mbps download/6 Mbps upload. That is an improvement of almost five percent since April. Unfortunately when you look at the map of coverage, it is clear that the access is uneven. http://wp.me/p3if7-2sM
Broadband Listening Tour with Senator Schmit
Senator Matt Schmit held a series of listening sessions on broadband throughout the state. He visited Bemidji, Grand Rapids, Staples, Mora, Willmar, Winthrop and Austin. A general consensus was that people are hungry for broadband and ready for action. Some of the attendees in Bemidji were caught on video. http://wp.me/p3if7-2s6
Senators Klobuchar and Franken write to FCC
Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken sent a letter to FCC Chair Wheeler on their continued concern about the impact of the FCC’s Transformation Order on Rate of Return carriers and their ability to further invest in their networks. http://wp.me/p3if7-2rq
Broadband Conference Notes
Blandin Broadband Team (staff and consultants) attended several conferences in December. Notes are available on the following: Cooperatives for Broadband http://wp.me/p3if7-2sd, Online Tools for Economic Development http://wp.me/p3if7-2sl and Broadband and Economic Development in Chicago http://wp.me/p3if7-2rU
Local Broadband News
Carlton County wins a Local Government Innovation Award for their TXT4Life Suicide Prevention program. http://wp.me/p3if7-2sJ
Arrowhead Electric completes most of the fiber construction in Cook County, however service is not yet available to residents. So many are setting up camp to use wireless made available near the office until their homes are fiber-ready. http://wp.me/p3if7-2sW
Dakota County extends their fiber network to Goodhue and Washington Counties. http://wp.me/p3if7-2s8
MacPhail Center for the Arts offers music instruction remotely to classrooms in Grand Rapids. http://wp.me/p3if7-2tp
PCs for People visit Blandin Broadband Community Kanabec County to give away 52 refurbished computers to homes that would otherwise not have a computer. http://wp.me/p3if7-2rD
Lac qui Parle County
LqP County gets a nice nod from the Star Tribune recognizing the increased economic development opportunities brought to local communities through broadband. http://wp.me/p3if7-2ts
Lake County files a complaint with the FCC about Frontier because Lake County has used Frontier poles to string fiber and Frontier is saying that they (Frontier) want to retain the bottom position on all utility poles. That would require Lake County to move their attachments, which would cost more than $240,000. http://wp.me/p3if7-2sU
Lake County, high school students work with seniors to help get them online – with one-on-one tech training and support. http://wp.me/p3if7-2s1
Minneapolis-based Open Inc creates Safety PAD, a tablet-like device that first responders use to record patient information in real time in the field. A central database then collects the patient information for hospital use. http://wp.me/p3if7-2rW
Morris wins a Local Government Innovation Award for the Morris Rental Housing Commission website that connects landlords, renters (many of them college students) and information. http://wp.me/p3if7-2sJ
Osakis, Jackson, Mankato, Brainerd, Kiester, Benson, Hancock and Morris
The Star Tribune reports on the Connect Minnesota survey (that indicates 75 percent of Minnesota households have access to broadband) providing vignettes of use, such as precision agriculture in various towns, including Osakis, Jackson, Mankato, Brainerd, Kiester, Benson, Hancock and Morris. http://wp.me/p3if7-2t7
Pipestone hosts its first Social Media Breakfast on November 12 as an opportunity for local businesses to talk about social media. http://wp.me/p3if7-2rG
E-Democracy and Open Twin Cities host an unconference and hackathon to encourage civic engagement that pair technology solutions to community issues. http://wp.me/p3if7-2sR
Minnesota Broadband Task Force Monthly Meeting (Twin Cities, MN) http://mn.gov/commerce/topics/Broadband/Governors-Broadband-Task-Force.jsp
Connect Minnesota Summit: The State of Broadband (Roseville, MN) http://wp.me/p3if7-2sv
An Hour of Code: an effort to provide an introduction to coding to students (various locations) http://wp.me/s3if7-9489
Minnesota Government IT Symposium (Saint Paul, MN) http://mngts.org/itsym/
Border to Border Broadband: A Call to Action (Saint Paul, MN) http://wp.me/p3if7-2tA
Looking for more events? Check out TechDotMN’s calendar http://tech.mn/events/. Many events are based in the Twin Cities but it is a comprehensive list. (If you have an upcoming event, consider submitting it.)
Stirring the Pot
By Bill Coleman, Community Technology Advisors
Congratulations to Danna MacKenzie, the director of Minnesota’s new Office of Broadband! I know Danna will be getting lots of advice about the best strategies to move Minnesota forward – tax exemptions, financing programs, new regulations and other ideas. Here is mine!
I would encourage all of us, but especially Danna, to take a look back at a set of sound principles on which to base our way forward. Danna is well-familiar with the Blandin Foundation Broadband principles – she helped to create them in 2006. These principles were adopted by a stellar group of Minnesotans, including telecom providers, community representatives and elected officials. These principles have stood the test of time. Considered individually, each principle makes sense, but recognizing the interplay of these principles is essential.
- Ubiquity - Meaning broadband availability for everyone, this is a cornerstone adopted by the first Minnesota Broadband Task Force chaired by Rick King of Thomson Reuters.
- Symmetry - Both download and upload speeds should support content users and content creators.
- Affordable - Services that are too expensive are essentially unavailable to many Minnesotans.
- Competition - Drives innovation, customer service and affordability.
- World Class – Broadband is the essential infrastructure of our time.
- Collaboration - Sometimes too focused on public-private partnerships, we also need increased collaboration between private companies and within the public sector.
- Neutrality - Neutrality does not mean not choosing technologies, it means being open to new technologies and collaborative models.
- Interoperability - Networks and applications should operate easily across systems of health care, education and government.
From my perspective, I see Ubiquity, Affordable and World-Class as the cornerstones of these principles. Achieving all three of these will be a challenge! Competition, Collaboration, Neutrality and Interoperability are supporting principles. To achieve the cornerstone principles, Danna will have to lead the way to an environment where these supporting principles become the norm of our public and private sector entities.