Posted by: Ann Treacy | March 27, 2015

A big gap between urban, rural and tribal broadband access

I’m catching up on non-Minnesota broadband reading today. The NTIA recently wrote about the last iteration of the National Broadband Map as it stands today. (The FCC will be picking up the job via 477data collection.) I’m going to paste in a bigger chunk for context but it’s really the last bullet point that caught my eye: The latest data finds that only 55 percent of those in rural communities, and 32 percent of tribal lands have access to broadband at 25 mbps compared with 94 percent of urban areas.

Our job as broadband advocates really isn’t done until both of those gaps are closed.

The most significant finding from the latest data, announced by President Obama [4]earlier today, is that the United States has met the President’s goal [5] of ensuring 98 percent of the country has access to wireless broadband at a speed of at least 6 megabits per second (Mbps) down/1.5 Mbps up. Other key findings from the June 30, 2014 dataset include:

  • As we have seen in every data release since our first in February 2011, broadband speeds continue to increase. The rate at which we are seeing speeds increase, however, is slower at every national speed threshold that we track.

  • At lower speeds, Internet access is widely available across both rural and urban areas. The latest data shows that 99 percent of the country has access to advertised broadband speeds at 10 megabits per second (Mbps) through either wired or wireless services, and 93 percent have access to this speed through wired service alone.

  • Nearly 85 percent of the country has access to wired broadband at a speed of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up, which is the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) new benchmark level [6] for broadband speeds. Cable provides 82.69 percent of the U.S. population with speeds of 25 Mbps or more, while fiber to the premises serves about one in four Americans (24.20 percent) at that speed.

  • However, there is still a big gap between urban and rural areas when it comes to access to broadband at 25 Mbps. The latest data finds that only 55 percent of those in rural communities, and 32 percent of tribal lands have access to broadband at 25 mbps compared with 94 percent of urban areas.

NTIA’s State Broadband Initiative (SBI), which funded grants to collect the data used in the Broadband Map, is coming to a close. The data we are posting today is the last set of data that states will collect under this program. NTIA is transitioning the broadband map to our long-standing partner, the FCC, which will collect data as part of its 477 data collection program.

Earlier this week, the White House issued a press release on “Next Steps in Delivering Fast, Affordable Broadband.” Here are a few key factors that I think will be of greatest interest to readers…

Standing up the Broadband Opportunity Council.  Today the President signed a new Presidential Memorandum making good on his promise in Cedar Falls to stand up a new Council singularly focused on increasing broadband investment and adoption.

  • The Council, co-chaired by the Secretaries of Commerce and Agriculture, includes over twenty-five different government agencies and components, all united around clear policy objectives to:

    • Engage with industry and other stakeholders to understand ways the government can better support the needs of communities seeking broadband investment;
    • Identify regulatory barriers unduly impeding broadband deployment or competition;
    • Survey and report back on existing programs that currently support or could be modified to support broadband competition, deployment or adoption; and
    • Take all necessary actions to remove these barriers and re-align existing programs to increase broadband competition, deployment, and adoption.
  • The Council will report back to the President, within 150 days, with the steps each agency will take to advance these goals, including specific regulatory actions or budget proposals.

    • These steps will build on and expand several actions agencies have already taken during this Administration, such as developing a common application form for wireless broadband providers to lease space for their rooftop antennas, sharing of best practices for “dig once” policies by state and municipal governments nationwide, and offering new online tools for finding and leasing federal assets available for broadband networks.

Continued Support to Communities & Competitors Expanding Broadband Offerings. The Administration continues to build on the momentum we began earlier this year with the standup of Commerce’s BroadbandUSA program. Later this year, the Department of Agriculture will reopen a revamped broadband loan program, which offers financing to eligible rural carriers that invest in bringing high-speed broadband to unserved and under-served rural areas.

  • Today the Department of Agriculture is announcing a total of $35 million in broadband infrastructure loans in Arkansas, New Mexico, and Iowa to deliver enhanced services to help attract and grow businesses, as well as to improve educational and health care services.  Time and again, studies show that affordable broadband offers increased economic opportunities in rural areas, which is why Rural Development is committed to delivering high-speed Internet service to these communities.

  • Through the BroadbandUSA program, the Department of Commerce has followed through on its promise to support more communities seeking to learn from the experts on how to increase broadband investment and competition — including through municipal broadband. Since January, Commerce has provided ongoing one-on-one advice to communities across the U.S. including in Ohio, Kansas, Florida, California, and West Virginia; organized a regional summit in Jackson, Mississippi; and held a national webinar to introduce BroadbandUSA and present the new Guide to Public-Private Partnerships for Broadband Investment.

  • Announcing the Community Broadband Summit.  To carry forward the momentum, help communities leaders learn from one another, and report out the progress of our broadband initiatives, the White House will in June host the Community Broadband Summit.  Details will follow soon at WhiteHouse.gov.

The latest Akamai reports are in (for Q4 2015). As you may recall from the Q3 report, neither Minnesota nor the US ranked in the Top Ten in terms of broadband speeds. (The US does top the lists for IP addresses, but that’s sheer numbers and so less easy/valuable to compare.) In any case, neither Minnesota nor the US made the lists again.

Thanks to the folks at Akamai, here is how Minnesota ranks…

  • Average connection speed: #22 | MINNESOTA | 11.4 Mbps | -3.0% QoQ | +12% YoY
  • Average Peak connection speed: #23 | MINNESOTA | 50.4 Mbps | +1.6 QoQ | +16% YoY
  • High broadband (>10 Mbps): #27 | MINNESOTA | 38% | +5.2% QoQ | +16% YoY
  • Broadband (>4 Mbps): #27 | MINNESOTA | 76% | +4.2% QoQ | +5.4% YoY
  • 4K Readiness (>15 Mbps): #28 | MINNESOTA | 17% | -2.4% QoQ | +19% YoY

So depending on how you want to measure it, we rank between #22 and #28. We have climbed the list a bit in all areas except 4K readiness. SO that’s good, but not great

  • Average connection speed: #22 (now) | #20 (last quarter)
  • Average Peak connection speed: #23 (now) | #20 (last quarter)
  • High broadband (>10 Mbps): #27 (now) | #28 (last quarter)
  • Broadband (>4 Mbps): #27 (now) | #28 (last quarter)
  • 4K Readiness (>15 Mbps): #28 (now) | #25 (last quarter)

The Washington Post (using Akamai report) created a map that indicates that Minnesota peak broadband speeds are not above average. Looking at the map, we’re looking pretty average.

akamai map

lincolnI’m working on a County-by-County look at the State of Broadband in MN. My hope is to feature a county a day (in alphabetical order). In November, Connect Minnesota released their final report on broadband availability. Here is how Lincoln County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 4.7
  • Number of Households: 2,574
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 40.90%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 40.90%

Lincoln County could use some help. The good news is that they are getting some. I wrote about the project and will just borrow from what I said then…

With 40 percent broadband coverage, Lincoln County can certainly use the support and Connect Minnesota maps indicate that Lincoln has been hovering around that mark since 2011; the definition of broadband used for the maps in 2011 was slower – but percentage-wise the county remains drastically underserved. Yet I know there has been interest in improvements. A year ago, MVTV voiced an interest in serving Lincoln County with wireless services. (I’m not sure if the plan was to include Hendricks.)Mediacom upgraded services in three communities (Ivanhoe, Lake Benton and Tyler) in Lincoln in 2013; Hendricks did not make that shortlist. It would be nice to see the OBD funded project spur expansion from Mediacom and MVTV wireless too.

And here is a description of the funded project…

Interstate Telecommunications Cooperative (ITC), Hendricks Town FTTP. Awarded $700,000 to bring the town of Hendricks in Lincoln County service that surpasses state speed goals. Underserved customers that would benefit include 377 households and farms, 57 businesses, three home-based businesses and eight community anchor institutions. The full project cost is $1.87 million; the remaining $1.17 million (63 percent) match will be provided by a private investment made by ITC.

Community and Economic Development Impact: The Hendricks Town FTTP Project will promote rural economic development by providing access to state-of-the-art broadband services to 100 percent of the households and businesses in the funded service area. It will expand the educational, economic and health care opportunities for the community. It will also address public safety concerns in the area by delivering highly desirable broadband services to community anchor institutions and wireless towers in the area. The proposed network has the ability to provide broadband data speeds of 1 Gbps or more in the future. ITC and city leaders believe that sustainable broadband adoption will transform this underserved, low- income area into a highly productive community.

Now it looks like 377 households will get service, which doesn’t entirely close the gap but with a population of 2,574 it gets them closer.

My hope is that these county-specific posts will help policy makers and county residents understand where they stand in terms of broadband access. Assuming it might get forwarded to folks who don’t eat and sleep broadband I wanted to provide a little background on broadband to help set the stage… Read More…

Minnesota Public Radio reports…

A proposal that would change how local phone companies are regulated at the Minnesota State Capitol is facing opposition amidst concerns that it would lead to higher prices and less service in rural areas.

The bill’s advocates say less regulation would allow them to stay competitive with newer technologies.

Attorney General Lori Swanson said the proposal that’s being pushed by telecommunication companies would “eviscerate” 100 years of state law protecting consumers, including a requirement that phone companies provide access in far-flung rural areas.

“We’re very concerned that they’ll just drop people who are too expensive to serve,” Swanson said. “And we’re very concerned that if they don’t drop you, they’ll say, ‘Great, it will be $250 a month.'”

Industry calls this a small step…

Minnesota Telecom Alliance President Brent Christensen said he views the proposal more as re-regulation than deregulation. The bills would change the threshold under which landline phone companies are required to provide service and remove some price caps.

“That would allow incumbent carriers to be regulated the same as their competitors if they pass a competitive test,” Christensen said. “It’s a really, really small step.”

The Attorney General seems worried that while the step may be small, it may be a key step…

But Swanson said the threshold under which phone companies could ask for a change in their regulation status was broad enough that it would include more than 90 percent of phone companies in the state. She said it would allow companies to claim that internet and cell phones qualify as competition for landlines.

“Landline is a very unique product market, it’s an exclusive product market, it’s one that you can’t fill in the gap with a cellphone or a computer,” Swanson said. “Try emailing 911 if you’re having a heart attack.”

The market is difficult to make for a business to continue to serve landlines. The Market is decreasing. As a product it’s been replaced by cell phones and broadband. But there’s still a market that relies on landline as a lifeline…

The Minnesota chapter of the AARP also opposes the bill. Sandi Hagglund, from Stearns County, said she used her landline to call 911 while caring for her husband during a long illness, including one time that he had very low oxygen levels.

“Because my home is surrounded by trees and hills, the cell reception there is limited, sometimes non-existent,” Hagglund said. “If I had to drive that ten minutes to get cell phone reception, my husband would have died.”

It’s an conundrum because phone service is very much like a utility, yet offered by private business.

Posted by: Ann Treacy | March 25, 2015

MHTA Spring Conference May 7

Looks like a great lineup, with a slightly new format…

MHTA Spring Conference

One of the science and technology community’s must-attend conferences, 2015 is a year of exciting changes for this event, including a new venue and a new format! Join us at the Guthrie Theater May 7th for a full-day, inspiring agenda featuring industry thought leaders and sessions focused on today’s top technology trends. Do not miss the opportunity to connect with other science and technology professionals at this must-attend event.

The session content is led by a planning committee responsible for shaping the agenda. In addition to quality educational opportunities, the conference is the premier networking opportunity for science and technology leaders.

Hear from these industry experts

Opening keynote:
Adrian Davis, President of Whetstone, Inc.
Resistance is Futile: The Irresistible Power of Storytelling for Sales Professionals
Business strategist and management consultant Adrian Davis will demonstrate how telling better stories helps build rapport with clients and customers, and reduce resistance to sales efforts, and enhance customer’s identification with your products and services.

Mid-Morning Keynote:
Mary Meehan, CEO of Panoramix Global
Transformation: Innovating in a World in Flux
Consumer behavior researcher and cultural intelligence analyst Mary Meehan will explore how changing cultural trends influence consumer behavior and how learning to navigate, anticipate and leverage these dynamics leads to insights for innovation growth and opportunity.

Closing Keynote:
Josef Brunner, Chief Architect, Cisco Services
The Future of IoT
A serial entrepreneur with expertise in internet security, energy, and the Internet of things, Josef Brunner will discuss IoT and Intercloud strategy, about wins and projects and about the importance of partnership, and share his thoughts on possible new directions for the internet of things.

Posted by: Ann Treacy | March 24, 2015

MTA Conference: RUS Funding, e911 and FirstNet

This week I’m attending the Minnesota Telecom Alliance Spring conference. Yesterday I learned about the Internet of Everything and Net Neutrality regulations. Today I learned about RUS funding, e911 and FirstNet in Minnesota…

RUS Update

E911

What is available today:

  • All 104 PSAPS are connected to ESINet – that’s the backbone (via MNIT)
  • Select routing for all wireline and wireless and VoIP calls
  • All 911 transfers MN PSAPS include ANI/ALI
  • Exploring interoperability with other states (WI & SD-IA)

Next initiatives:

  • Deploy text to 911 solution (Q4 2015)
  • Migrate to geospatial call routing and NG 911 (Q1 2018)
  • Re-homing of all MN telecom carriers 911 network from the 12 legacy selective routers to alternative

Text to 911 benefits

  • Benefits hard of hearing
  • Works where voice networks are congested
  • When voice call would endanger caller
  • BUT text is a compliment NOT a substitute

Limitations of text to 911

  • Location accuracy limitations (getting tower site is limit now)
  • Speed in exchanging information

GIS for 911

  • Today’s e911 is based on phone number
  • Location of calling device

 

More than 3M calls per year traverse the next generation network

  • Nearly 80% of calls are wireless
  • 5.4M population served

Questions/Answer

  • Next Gen could emerge as soon as 5 years – at least in terms of call routing.
  • The 911 fee will increase to pay for increased services. At least in MN the existing fees are not going back into general fund. They are going back to 911 services.

FirstNet –

What is televate? Telecom consulting firm that is planning for FirstNet in MN

What are we doing in terms of FIrstNet now?

  • Consulting with FIrstNet – MN is preparing by gathering statewide needs and expectations
  • Waiting for RFP
  • FIrstnet will present plan to Governor
  • MN can opt in or opt out

Why is ECN supportive of FirstNet? Before Feb 2012 we researched a similar effort in the state. We need at least 150 towers to get good coverage in the state. (That as well as existing state and local government assets.) And we would also need to keep everything up-to-date. FirstNet sounds like a better, more practical option.

Process:

  • Creating an RFI
  • Surveying

Coverage Assessments – helpful to digital inclusion crowd

As part of the process of looking at FIrstNet, they survey coverage.

Tribal governance is an issues because the state can’t negotiate on behalf of tribal communities. Many are involved with regional radio boards. Looking for ways to get more involvement. It’s really based now on whether they are involved with ARMER network. Tribal area are not as well served and FirstNet can bring opportunities.

Lessons Learned:

  • Branding & messaging are essential
  • Never underestimate the stakeholder community
  • Next overestimate the stakeholder community (this is techie stuff)
  • Communication with stakeholders is extremely labor-intensive
  • Tribal outreach is challenging
  • Good coverage assessments require many inputs
  • Give your stakeholders homework
  • Share with your peers.

 

comcast mapSometimes we don’t know how good we had it ‘til it’s gone! Sounds like the chorus from an old country song but it might be what we’re singing in the Twin Cities when/if Comcast transfers to GreatLand Connections. According to Minnesota Public Radio

Right now, GreatLand Connections exists only on paper. But if you buy TV, Internet or phone service from Comcast in Minnesota, GreatLand could be your next cable provider.

If federal regulators back its $45 billion merger with Time Warner, Comcast says a new company, GreatLand, would be formed to take over the cable giant’s operations in Minnesota and 10 other states.

The thought is that this will offset the amount of paid TV owned by the new company. While in DC last summer, I heard Senator Franken refer to a potential shift in ownership of Comcast in Minnesota. He noted that his early and strong voice against the merger could be a contributing factor to them selecting Minnesota as a state to give up.

Unfortunately, folks are worried about the “new” Comcast…

The potential spinoff, however, makes some regional regulators nervous. Some worry GreatLand’s prices and service quality will be worse than what the estimated 550,000 Comcast subscribers in the metro area have now. …

GreatLand will rely on rival Charter Communications for help with several important functions, including customer service, engineering and billing.

Regulators are afraid that the consumer may end up spaying the moving costs for the new company…

Given the uncertainties, many regional regulators demanded promises from GreatLand. Minneapolis and other cities, for instance, say GreatLand has agreed to not make subscribers responsible for the billions of dollars in debt and other costs related to the company’s creation.

The Minnesota Association of Community Telecommunications Administrators asked the FCC to prohibit GreatLand from passing on to consumers any of the costs of the transaction for at least five years. The state Commerce Department says GreatLand has committed to freezing phone rates for two years and to continue offering fast Internet connections to low income families at a discount.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Ann Treacy | March 24, 2015

MTA Conference: Internet of Things & Policy Update

This week I’m attending the Minnesota Telecom Alliance Spring conference. It’s always a really interesting look at the telecom industry – an industry that has been changing at break neck speed due to technology advancements and policy updates.

The conference is going on today – and I’ll be heading there soon. But I took so many notes yesterday I wanted to share them before I headed out…

The Internet of Everything by Vincent Weimer

Ingredients of IoE – smartphones, big data, wifi, IPv6 and

Broadband cost has dropped by a factors of 40 over last 10 years

Why is Internet of Everything important?

It’s the first real evolution of the Internet. The Internet now has senses. (Via cameras we can see, via video we can hear…)

Who is using IoE?

  • Consumer Devices (refrigerator that creates a shopping list)
  • Transportation (connected cars)
  • Medical (remote monitoring)
  • Building (Safety monitoring)
  • Cities (smartgrid)

Products already on the market:

  • Smart thermostats
  • Connected cars
  • Activity trackers
  • Smart outlets
  • Parking sensors

Where is IoE development focused?

  • Infrastructure – building the pipeline
  • Software – need common set of standards
  • Value-Adding solutions – legitimately solves a problem

Telecom Impact: Wi-Fi Cellular

  • Devices will require wireless communications
  • Wi-Fi will likely be the standard – it is the wireless gateway to the wired Internet
  • Cellular will be used for remote access
  • Demand for spectrum and fiber transport networks will be high
  • There is no wireless without the underlying wireline network
  • Network moves intelligence to the network edge to increase speed and reliability (300 miles is a distance benchmark for seamless cloud usage)

Warnings

  • Interference – 50B devices in unlicensed spectrum add in RF emitters and microwaves makes it even more difficult. May not be noticeable until latency-sensitive applications emerge
  • Security – biggest concern.
  • Privacy – Big brother is watching. When someone gives you something for free, you are the product – as is the case with Facebook, Twitter Google… Unauthorized access and misuse of private data is a great concern

ACA’s Annual Update of FCC and US Congress Policy Matters and Their Impact on Your Business 

(I tried to take notes and  record.  I am not preparing my Best Camerawork speech.)

ACA tried to raise the voice of the smaller providers.

3 actions

  • Net neutrality
  • Title II telecommunications (reclassified from info service)
  • Forbearances from Title II

Main gist: Can’t block, throttle, or prioritize paid traffic (including edge providers)

Internet Conduct Standard – Prohibits an ISP from interfering or disadvantaging a consumer or edge provider. Based on recognition that the tools are there to not meet standards BUT there’s no real feel for what that means and it is expected to come out at it comes up but will be based on “totality of circumstance” which includes:

  • End-User Control
  • Competitive Effects
  • Consumer Protection
  • Effect on Innovation/Investment
  • Free Expression
  • Application agnostic
  • Standard Practices

Reasonable Network Management - Will take in account your type of network. They will look for management based on technology not business priorities.

Transparency Enhancements – Price, Other Fees and Data Caps and Allowances / Performance (packet loss) and Network practices

The ACA worked hard on the exemption of small providers from transparency providers.

FCC has asserts jurisdiction for the first time over Internet traffic exchange – kind of combines retail and wholesale business practices

 

Application of Title II

Section 2292 – unlawful to make any unjust or unreasonable discrimination in changes practices, classification, regulations, facilities, or services in connection with common carriers.

Major Provisions of Title II that will apply – important consumer protection provisions – Sect 222 (data breach), 225 (disabilities access protections – no telecom relay service funds), 224 (pole attachments) & 254 (partial application of USF)

The following will not apply 203/4, 205/212, 214, 251, 252, 256, 258

Enforcement:

  • This will be a case-by –case enforcement
  • Delegation to Enforcement Bureau Staff
  • Consultations with outside groups

What Next?

  • Rules will go into effect 60 days after publication in Fed Register
  • Petitions for Reconsideration due within 20 days of FR publication
  • Petitions for Review by Federal Court of Appeals due within 60 days

Tech transition – you must notify people before you go from copper to fiber.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Ann Treacy | March 23, 2015

Second Annual Red Hot Hack: Bigger and Better

red hot hack winnersI attended the second annual Red Hot Hack (hosted by Red Wing Ignite) over the weekend. They really have a nice model for a rural hack. (They have received support from the Blandin Foundation.0 There was a good mix of locals, folks from the Twin Cities and folks from neighboring towns; people all of ages; and people of all skills, including some who had been to a hack (some who attended the Red Hot Hack last year) and some newbies.

We started with some idea brainstorming. (Part of the group had met a week earlier to start the ideation.) People voted on projects. People formed teams. And the projects began!

The event lasted from 8:30 on Saturday until noon on Sunday. We enjoyed meals together, played a little trivia, some of us met up at the bar – but really people fleshed out their ideas. There were a few judges around who also served as mentors. They were very generous with their time. My team spoke with one about creating a pitch and another about the technical specifications and potential costs for coding. It was very helpful.

It is a very informal setting. The mood is very collegial. There are folks who clearly are more comfortable coding than talking – and they get their opportunity shine. And there are others who are serious coders but have a passion about an idea that helps them leapfrog over any reticence to introduce their ideas. And still others are naturally great communicators. People form networks that will lead to future collaboration. Connections are made among participants and between participants and the community. And people learn about tools.

I heard one 20-something say he’d never heard of Meetup. I noticed a few younger folks on Twitter for the first time. Kids take to technology but I think there’s a misconception that they know everything. They don’t because the business world is new to them and business applications to even familiar tools is new. This is a great chance to see what folks in the workforce are using. And on the flip side, I saw folks out of their 20s learn about RSS feeds and GitHub and other tools too. And I noted that at least one attendee from last year mentioned that she’s going to learn to code (higher ed) now.

It’s a fun weekend that leads to projects that get momentum but also a great chance for disparate folks to learn from each other on all levels. I think it can really be a gamer changer in terms of learning what else is out there, what appeals to you and what tools folks are using to get there.

Here’s a very brief outline (think borrowed Tweets) of the ideas fleshed out over the weekend:

  • Idea 1: Social Media Gaming – promote local businesses online with friendly competition.
  • Idea 2: Paid online video help: Show Me Help Me
  • Idea 3: computer-based machine-learning for assessing moles (melanoma) diagnosis
  • Idea 4: Touricana web & mobile demo app for potential tourists to get a sneak peek before arriving
  • Idea 5: unified community calendar open to all events and customized user experience
  • Idea 6: accelerating the process of applying for medical assistance
  • Idea 7: promote local buying with centralized ecommerce site for local pickup or delivery

 

Posted by: Ann Treacy | March 22, 2015

Le Sueur County Broadband 2014 Update: Uneven access

le sueurI’m working on a County-by-County look at the State of Broadband in MN. My hope is to feature a county a day (in alphabetical order). In November, Connect Minnesota released their final report on broadband availability. Here is how Le Sueur County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 22.7
  • Number of Households: 10,758
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 87.86%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 98.47%

Le Sueur County is one of those where mobile access makes a difference. With mobile, they are closer to making the state goal; without it they’re more at a B grade. (Their neighbors in Blue Earth County are in a similar position.)

Local folks are aware of the situation. Last year the St Peter Herald painted a picture of rural Le Sueur…

But in places like rural Le Sueur County, high-speed Internet is still not an option for many residents.

More than 80 households located along Hwy. 169 between St. Peter and Le Sueur do not have access to broadband, data from Connect Minnesota, which is based on recent Census data, shows.

Residents between Le Sueur and Le Center and outside the limits of both cities generally lack access, as well as residents living outside Cleveland near Saviadge Lake, Goldsmith Lake and North Goldsmith Lake.

Like many other counties, the access in the county is uneven. Mankato is well served, Cleveland is not. Mankato was active in pursuing broadband a few years ago – and broadband has been noted as a tool that has supported a “rural revival” in the area. The just need to extend the revival to town outskirts.

My hope is that these county-specific posts will help policy makers and county residents understand where they stand in terms of broadband access. Assuming it might get forwarded to folks who don’t eat and sleep broadband I wanted to provide a little background on broadband to help set the stage… Read More…

lake of the woodsI’m working on a County-by-County look at the State of Broadband in MN. My hope is to feature a county a day (in alphabetical order). In November, Connect Minnesota released their final report on broadband availability. Here is how Lake County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 1
  • Number of Households: 1,784
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 47.08%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 47.08%

Lake of the Woods sits with less than half the population served with broadband. The low population density makes it a tough business case – but the remoteness makes the broadband even more valuable to businesses and residents as opportunities for telehealth, online learning and ecommerce become available with better broadband.

Lake of the Woods has been a Blandin Broadband community; they worked on getting seniors getting, training businesses to use technology and public Wi-Fi spots.

So they’re building demand but what they really need is increased access.

My hope is that these county-specific posts will help policy makers and county residents understand where they stand in terms of broadband access. Assuming it might get forwarded to folks who don’t eat and sleep broadband I wanted to provide a little background on broadband to help set the stage… Read More…

We learned a lot about security, infrastructure and the Internet of big things today – things like bridges and cars. On the one hand it is exciting to hear about how broadband can be used to do ongoing monitoring of bridges to make us safer and can help guide cars to improve environmental impacts, time in traffic jams and again safety. On the other hand it’s daunting to hear how vulnerable it makes us to have everything become so automated and access to operating  systems and data become easier to get through technology.

I have full notes – but am hoping to add PPTs later if I can. The Task Force tried something new – at the end of this post, they each told about what they found most remarkable in the meeting. (A nice shortcut to what transpired.)

[added 3/26]

Thanks to the Office of Broadband Development for post the PPTs online:

http://mn.gov/deed/images/19Mar15_eWorkPlace_LariDoumaPresentation.pdf

http://mn.gov/deed/images/19Mar15-ConnectedVehicle_LiaoPresentation.pdf

http://mn.gov/deed/images/19Mar15_HackersAutomatedCar_IslePresentation.pdf

Read More…

free jazzI started reading the 400-page FCC Open Internet (aka Net Neutrality report) while I listened to some experimental jazz at a local Afghani restaurant last week – just to paint a funny picture for you. It seemed fitting as the report is a little like free jazz – some repetition, a lot of it sounds like noise if it’s new to you, but real fans will know how to understand (and use) the nuances.

And I think there’s a lot left open to interpretation.

I won’t dive in too deep as there are others who are more qualified – mostly I realized that there are a huge number of exceptions and exemptions. Small providers are exempt from transparency rules – but small providers include anyone serving fewer than 100,000 customers. Special services are exempted but not really defined – it include VOIP and heart monitoring. It’s these areas and other where the interpretation will happen. I remain cautiously optimistic but there are so many things that will be decided in the courts, on a case by case basis or as precedent builds. It’s difficult to know how things will shake out.

The FCC recently posted a cheat sheet of sorts that tries to separate fact from fiction; I thought this was helpful too – maybe it’s helpful in seeing who they want to placate…

The Open Internet Order uses every tool in the Federal Communication Commission’s toolbox to make sure the Internet stays fair, fast and open for all Americans, while ensuring investment and innovation can flourish. We encourage the public to read the Order, which reflects the input of millions of Americans and allows everyone to separate myths from fact, such as:
Myth: This is utility-style regulation.
Fact: The Order takes a modernized approach to Title II, tailored for the 21st Century.
Myth: The FCC plans to set broadband rates and regulate retail prices in response to consumer complaints.
Fact: The Order doesn’t regulate retail broadband rates.
Myth: This will increase consumers’ broadband bills and/or raise taxes.
Fact: The Order doesn’t impose new taxes or fees or otherwise increase prices.
Myth: This is a plan to regulate the Internet and let the government take over the Internet.
Fact: The Order doesn’t regulate Internet content, applications or services or how the Internet operates, its routing or its addressing.
Myth: This proposal means the FCC will get to decide which service plan you can choose.
Fact: The Order doesn’t limit consumers’ choices or ban broadband data plans.
Myth: This will embolden authoritarian states to tighten their grip on the Internet.
Fact: The Open Internet rules ensure the Internet continues to be a powerful platform for free expression, innovation and economic growth.
Myth: This will stifle innovation in new areas of Internet connectivity like connected cars or tele-health.
Fact: The Order doesn’t regulate the class of IP-based services that do not connect to the public Internet.
Myth: This will lead to slower broadband speeds and reduced investment in broadband deployment.
Fact: The Order doesn’t reduce broadband investment or slow broadband speeds.
Myth: The new transparency rules add up to a new form of regulation.
Fact: Clear disclosure requirements benefit both consumers and industry.
Myth: The general conduct standard will chill innovation.
Fact: This is not new ground. The Commission also adopted a general conduct standard in 2010 and investment flourished.

Posted by: Ann Treacy | March 19, 2015

Minnesota Broadband Task Force meets today at 10 am

Sorry for the late notice. I will be there taking notes…

March 19, 2015
Humphrey School of Public Affairs
University of Minnesota
301 19th Ave. South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
10 a.m. – 3 p.m

10:00 – 10:15 a.m. Introductions/Public Comments/Approval of Minutes from February 18, 2015 meeting

10:15 – 10:30 a.m. Update from Office of Broadband Development

10:30 – 11:00 a.m. Review of the February 18, 2015 Meeting Summary
For inclusion in the annual report.

11:00 – 11:30 a.m. Telecommuting: Required Conditions and How it Benefits Everyone
Frank Douma and Adeel Lari, Humphrey School of Public Affairs; University of Minnesota

11:30 – 12:00 p.m. The Role of Broadband in Bridge Monitoring in Minnesota
Carol Shield, Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo-Engineering; University of Minnesota

12:00 – 12:30 p.m. Lunch

12:30 – 1:00 p.m. The Role of Wireless in Rural Emergency Response:
CrashHelp Case Study
Lee Munnich, Humphrey School of Public Affairs; University of Minnesota

1:30 – 2:00 p.m. Collision Course: Hackers and the Automated Car
Brian Isles, Adventium Labs and Senior Fellow, Technology Leadership Institute; University of Minnesota

2:00 – 2:30 p.m. Meeting Summary Discussion
2:30 – 3:00 p.m. Task Force Member Thank You and Wrap-Up

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