Posted by: Ann Treacy | February 27, 2015

Jackson County Broadband 2014 Update: FTTH but not ubiquitous

jacksonFor the upcoming weeks I’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 Jackson County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 6.1
  • Number of Households: 4,429
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 68.78%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 68.78%

Jackson County has been thinking about fiber since at least 2009, when several cities and townships in the County decided to invest in looking at fiber options. They are part of (or located in) Southwest Minnesota, which received ARRA funds to deploy fiber to the home in several communities in Southwestern Minnesota and began serving homes in December 2011 and starting research wireless options for outskirt areas at about the same time. The providers in the areas (Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services – SMBS)  have also been Blandin Broadband Communities and have been working on promoting adoption in the area through that program. They have had success with local hotspots and Social Media Breakfasts.

So given that activity I was surprised to see that the sit at less than 70 percent coverage. But you can see from the map what is happening . FIber is deployed (in organge) and wireless is available (in green) based on where the fiber exists. There are pockets of DSL. I’m not sure if those areas areas served by SMBS or not. I suspect that SMBS will play a role in getting the rest of the county covered as they can.

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…

Posted by: Ann Treacy | February 27, 2015

MN Broadband Fund Award: A closer look around Otter Tail County

OBD fund graphicAlmost $20 million in state grants have gone to 17 communities in Minnesota to expand broadband and make the case to legislators (and the general public) that such investments are wise and have a valuable Return on Investment. I wanted to delve into each project a bit to help us follow the money as it gets deployed. (See other awardee posts.)

Otter Tail Telcom, Stuart Lake. Awarded $105,364 to expand existing infrastructure to bring fiber-to-the-home service to 47 unserved locations, including 46 homes and one business near Stuart Lake, just north of State Highway 210 and east of Fergus Falls (between Clitherall and Vining). Total project costs are $210,729; the remaining $105,365 (50 percent local match) will be provided by Otter Tail Telcom.

Community and Economic Development Impact:Fergus Falls calls itself the “telework capital of Minnesota.” This project will continue the build-out in and around Fergus Falls to make that goal a reality for a growing number of people living, working, and operating and/or starting businesses in the Fergus Falls region.

Otter Tail Telcom, 245th. Awarded $108,553 to serve the northeastern outskirts of Fergus Falls near 245th Street. The project will expand existing infrastructure to bring fiber-to-the-home service to 39 unserved locations, including permanent residences and work-from-home employees. The total project costs are $217,105; the remaining $108,553 (50 percent local match) will be provided by Otter Tail Telcom.

Community and Economic Development Impact:Fergus Falls calls itself the “telework capital of Minnesota.” This project will continue the build-out in and around Fergus Falls to make that goal a reality for a growing number of people living, working, and operating and/or starting businesses in the Fergus Falls region.

Otter Tail actually received three awards; these two in Otter Tail and one in Stevens county. As the description states, Fergus Falls and the surrounding area have been focusing on becoming the Telework Capital of Minnesota. They received national recognition for their efforts in 2013 when they were named a smart community. (The have a great telework handbook if you’re looking at telework in your community!) Extending the reach of FTTH home will help extend the telework opportunities to a wider audience. But Otter Tail is more than telework. In 2014, received almost $500,000 for Otter Tail County Public Health to implement e-health programs.

But even with all of the interest and good use of broadband, the county sits at only 64 percent coverage. I know that Otter Tail Telcom has been looking for support to extend their network. They sent in rural experiment ideas to the FCC in 2014. Back in 2013, CenturyLink opted to received Connect America Funds (CAF) to serve parts of Otter Tail County. It will be fun to see what funding does for the area

Just to help track progress, here are some recent stats on Otter Tail County:

On broadband (Connect MN final stats from 2014):

  • Household Density: 10.8
  • Number of Households: 24,055
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 64.33%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 64.33%

Census quick facts (from 2013):

  • Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2009-2013:   $159,700
  • Per capita money income in past 12 months (2013 dollars), 2009-2013:   $26,400
  • Persons below poverty level, percent, 2009-2013:   11.7%
  • Private nonfarm establishments, 2012:   1,685
  • Private nonfarm employment, 2012:   18,805
Posted by: Ann Treacy | February 27, 2015

Broadband opens the door to a rural quality of life in Minnesota

Broadband has been big in 2015 – but it feels like it’s all policy and funding and nuts and bolts. The who, what, when where and how (or how much), so I was pleased to find an article  talked about the why.

Furrow – a John Deere publication ran an article on brain gain, the notion that while young people may be leaving rural areas, “older” young people (ages 30-49) are moving to rural areas. The article highlights a few families and communities in rural Minnesota. They spoke to people who were well-educated and were happy to move back home or move to a rural area to bring up kids. It seems like people move for time and community.

Ben Winchester, a leading expert in the idea of brain gain, offer some perspective on the phenomenon…

“We are still losing many of those kids with a high school education,” says Ben Winchester, an Extension rural sociologist with the University of Minnesota. “But we’re gaining people with high education and life experience. This actually isn’t new. It’s been happening since the 1970s.”

The article highlights Lac qui Parle County, and former LqP EDA director Pam Lehmann offers a view on how broadband has opened the door to allowing more families to enjoy the quality of life they seek in rural areas…

Brett and Rose Buer both grew up on farms, left for the city, then returned. Brett started his own business as a machinist and welder, and Rose works from home as a software engineer. She has a competitive advantage that even larger cities don’t offer. Despite their isolation and low population, residents in Lac qui Parle County are in a hotbed of fiber optics with Internet speeds that are blazingly fast. Top upload and download speeds are an incredible 300 megabytes per second. Plans are to be at 1 gigabyte within five years.

“If we don’t have true broadband, we will disappear,” says Lehmann. “The younger generation will not be tolerant of not having that.”

Ongoing story. Winchester says the restructuring of rural areas will continue, but it’s important to remember that headlines of population declines don’t tell the whole story. “Just because you lose people doesn’t mean you lose everyone,” he says. “This has been going on for 30 to 40 years, even though rural communities may have done very little to encourage it.” Winchester asks a question that would make fine discussion fodder in any coffee shop. “What if we actually helped people move here?”

Posted by: Ann Treacy | February 26, 2015

Broadband christened public utility by FCC – details to follow

As predicted, the FCC has set down some rules that lean heavily toward Net Neutrality.

The New York Times reports…

The F.C.C. is taking this big regulatory step by reclassifying high­speed Internet service as a telecommunications service, instead of an information service, under Title II of the Telecommunications Act.

The Title II classification comes from the phone company era, treating service as a public utility. But the new rules are an à la carte version of Title II, adopting some provisions and shunning others. The F.C.C. will not get involved in pricing decisions or the engineering decisions companies make in managing their networks. Mr. Wheeler, who gave a forceful defense of the rules just ahead of the vote, said the tailored approach was anything but old­style utility regulation. “These are a 21st­century set of rules for a 21st­century industry,” he said.

The details will be released in the next few days. I expect those will be important but wonky. I have been impressed that so many people who don’t eat and sleep this stuff took the time to learn what a vote like this meant, to understand the potential consequences and to stand up to tell policymakers what they wanted.

The idea of an “à la carte version” of anything makes me curious – but again we’ll learn more when the details come out.

OBD fund graphicAlmost $20 million in state grants have gone to 17 communities in Minnesota to expand broadband and make the case to legislators (and the general public) that such investments are wise and have a valuable Return on Investment. I wanted to delve into each project a bit to help us follow the money as it gets deployed. (See other awardee posts.)

Otter Tail Telcom, Swan Lake West. Awarded $438,937 to expand existing infrastructure and bring fiber-to-the-home services to 110 unserved locations, including permanent residences with work-from-home employees near Swan Lake, on the outskirts of Fergus Falls, along the I-94 corridor. The total project costs are $877,874; the remaining $438,937 (50 percent local match) will be provided by Otter Tail Telcom.

Community and Economic Development Impact: Fergus Falls calls itself the “telework capital of Minnesota.” This project will continue the build-out in and around Fergus Falls to make that goal a reality for a growing number of people living, working, and operating or starting businesses in the Fergus Falls region.

Otter Tail actually received three awards; this one is Stevens county and two in Otter Tail, which I’ll highlight soon. As the description states, Fergus Falls and the surrounding area have been focusing on becoming the Telework Capital of Minnesota. They received national recognition for their efforts in 2013 when they were named a smart community. (The have a great telework handbook if you’re looking at telework in your community!) Extending the reach of FTTH home will help extend the telework opportunities to a wider audience.

Stevens County is well served. It would be nice to see a rural county get to 100 percent coverage. And it would be nice the average speeds increase in rural communities; Fiber to the Home will help. And the demand for better broadband ought to be there too. Stevens County was a MIRC (Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities) group in 2011-2012. One of the projects I remember from that initiative was better broadband and a kiosk in the American Legion. It served to provide a reason for younger veterans to go to the Legion and a place for older vets to learn about the Internet. A nice bond!

Just to help track progress, here are some recent stats on Stevens County:

On broadband (Connect MN final stats from 2014):

  • Household Density: 6.5
  • Number of Households: 3,726
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 99.26%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 80.18%

Census quick facts (from 2013):

  • Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2009-2013:   $127,500
  • Per capita money income in past 12 months (2013 dollars), 2009-2013:   $28,764
  • Persons below poverty level, percent, 2009-2013:   15.4%
  • Private nonfarm establishments, 2012:   303
  • Private nonfarm employment, 2012:   4,152
Posted by: Ann Treacy | February 25, 2015

Net Neutrality: A forgone conclusion?

According to the New York Times, Net Neutrality is all but signed, sealed and delivered…

Senior Republicans conceded on Tuesday that the grueling fight with President Obama over the regulation of Internet service appears over, with the president and an army of Internet activists victorious.

The Federal Communications Commission is expected on Thursday to approve regulating Internet service like a public utility, prohibiting companies from paying for faster lanes on the Internet. While the two Democratic commissioners are negotiating over technical details, they are widely expected to side with the Democratic chairman, Tom Wheeler, against the two Republican commissioners.

Maybe it’s not a sure thing forever…

The new F.C.C. rules are still likely to be tied up in a protracted court fight with the cable companies and Internet service providers that oppose it, and they could be overturned in the future by a Republican-leaning commission. But for now, Congress’s hands appear to be tied.

Some tried to thwart efforts…

Republicans hoped to pre-empt the F.C.C. vote with legislation, but Senate Democrats insisted on waiting until after Thursday’s F.C.C. vote before even beginning to talk about legislation for an open Internet. Even Mr. Thune, the architect of draft legislation to override the F.C.C., said Democrats had stalled what momentum he could muster.

And an avalanche of support for Mr. Wheeler’s plan — driven by Internet companies as varied as Netflix, Twitter, Mozilla and Etsy — has swamped Washington.

And it may be that Net Neurtality lives and survives by the social media and gatekeeper-less Internet it supports…

The net neutrality movement pitted new media against old and may well have revolutionized notions of corporate social responsibility and activism. Top-down decisions by executives investing in or divesting themselves of resources, paying lobbyists and buying advertisements were upended by the mobilization of Internet customers and users.

We’ll see if the pundits are right. We can all watch tomorrow to see how it goes…

February 2015 Open Commission Meeting
February 26, 2015 9:30 AM EST
Room TW-C305, 445 12th Street S.W., Washington, DC

OBD fund graphicAlmost $20 million in state grants have gone to 17 communities in Minnesota to expand broadband and make the case to legislators (and the general public) that such investments are wise and have a valuable Return on Investment. I wanted to delve into each project a bit to help us follow the money as it gets deployed. (See other awardee posts.)

Northeast Service Cooperative (NESC) – Frontier Communications Corp., Border to Border Phase I. Awarded $1.96 million for their Phase I project that extends fiber from NESC’s middle mile network to 877 unserved end users and to serving nodes. The total project costs are $4.35 million; the remaining $2.39 million (55 percent local match) will be provided by IRRRB ($1.5 million), Frontier ($750,000) and NESC ($135,000).The proposed project is in scattered locations in St. Louis County, including areas in and around Crane Lake, Alborn, Meadowlands, Brookston, Forbes, Kelsey, Soudan, Kabetogama, Ely and Tower.

Community and Economic Development Impact:This project will provide single office/home office businesses with greater speeds to improve operational capacity and bring reliable, steady connections to the Internet. It will also provide access to remote health care solutions that require higher capacity connections and will link citizens to educational resources and local school districts from their households.

I nearly combined this with the post on Mediacom’s award, also set in St Louis County (on Pintar Road). But NESC is a little bit of a different kettle of fish, because they have primarily been middle mile broadband extension in Northeast Minnesota. Here’s a description I borrowed from their website a few years ago…

The Northeast Middle Mile Fiber Project will make broadband services viable for a vast geographic region, creating an initial backbone that will serve hundreds of sites along 915 miles of fiber within eight counties including St. Louis, Lake, Cook, Koochiching, Carlton, Pine, Itasca, and Aitkin.

NESC received ARRA funding in 2010. They have been working to build that backbone and have partnered with a number of third party broadband providers who provide residential services. It looks like this project will allow them to continue to work in the same direction.

You can learn more about the general state of broadband in ST Louis County on the earlier most on Mediacom’s award.)

Just to help track progress, here are some recent stats on St Louis County:

On broadband (Connect MN final stats from 2014):

  • Household Density: 12.4
  • Number of Households: 84,783
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 62.86%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 80.18%

Census quick facts (from 2013):

  • Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2009-2013:  $137,500
  • Per capita money income in past 12 months (2013 dollars), 2009-2013:  $45,517
  • Persons below poverty level, percent, 2009-2013:  16.4%
  • Private nonfarm establishments, 2012:  5,371
  • Private nonfarm employment, 2012:  84,561

itascaFor the upcoming weeks I’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 Itasca County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 6.4
  • Number of Households: 18,773
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 55.13%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 66.72%

Itasca is the home county of the Blandin Foundation. They have been part of broadband adoption efforts for many years. Mostly recently the Itasca County BBC initiative highlighted many of their efforts to get businesses online and using social media to promote themselves and the community. Connect Itasca has been working to build a better business case for broadband deployment in the area by using a tool that helps with market research and development.

I know that Paul Bunyan is working on building their GigaZone; they started in Trout Lake Township and have plans for more. I’m sure that Paul Bunyan’s deployment will have a big impact on the broadband coverage in the County. Between adoption support from Blandin and deployment from Paul Bunyan, Itasca really has an opportunity to leap from metro counties with better broadband speeds.

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…

Posted by: Ann Treacy | February 24, 2015

RS Fiber gets buy in from cities to move forward with FTTH

Last I checked in with RS Fiber, they expected to serve 1,600 homes and businesses by late 2015 and has the potential to reach more than 6,200 customers by 2016. The Belle Plaine Herald has an update…

Council members in Green Isle and nine other cities in Sibley and Renville counties participating in the RS Fiber Optics line remain all in as the sale of bonds to fund the project nears.

Tuesday (Jan. 13), the Green Isle City Council, in it its first meeting of 2015, voted 3-1 in favor of a resolution stating  continued support for the $13.5 million project intended to bring Internet, TV and telephone service via a fiber optic line to residents of participating cities and townships in Renville and Sibley counties.

The cities’ share is just about $8.75 million. Councilor Shawn Harms cast the lone vote against the project. He fears the financial implication of Green Isle being on the hook for its share of the bonds of the project fails.

Backers of the project are first seeking another level of commitment from each of the cities in Sibley and Renville counties participating in the project before moving ahead with the sale of bonds in March. Green Isle’s share of the 20-year bonds would be approximately $495,000. City councils in Winthrop, Gibbon, Fairfax, Lafayette, Gaylord, Stewart, New Auburn and Brownton have all passed similar resolutions to the one Green Isle OK’d at its Jan. 13 meeting.

Green Isle will hold a public hearing on the proposal of issuing bonds before the city council votes on committing to bonds to for its share of the proposal.

Henderson and Arlington are the two Sibley County cities remaining on the sidelines. They may be allowed in should their respective city council request it at a later date, but at a higher cost than the existing cities, said Dave Trebelhorn of Winthrop, a member of the cooperative board of directors of the RS Fiber Project.

Posted by: Ann Treacy | February 24, 2015

Schools and Libraries in NW Minnesota are getting a gig!

Pleased to share this good info from NW MN

HUGE NETWORK OF GIGABIT-READY SCHOOLS & LIBRARIES IN NW MN
New Contract for the Largest Regional Network of its Kind

Northwest MN, February 17, 2015–Over 120 schools and libraries in northwestern Minnesota have access to up to 10 Gigabit fiber-optic connections through a renewed contract between Northwest Minnesota Special Access (www.nwmnsa.com) and NWLINKS http://www.region1.k12.mn.us/NWLINKS).

It’s all due to a partnership of 18 independent telecom companies that have come together to create Northwest Minnesota Special Access (NMSA), designed specifically to serve the bandwidth needs of schools and libraries in the region. The result is a world-class network.

George Fish, NMSA Board President, said “Northwest Minnesota Special Access and its members are heavily invested in the local communities they serve. This network is a perfect example. Learning can take place effortlessly because we can handle any of their data needs—now and long into the future.”

NMSA was formed to serve the consortium of schools and libraries called NWLINKS. NWLINKS members enjoy private network connectivity across the state, centralized support, and buying power to ensure appropriate bandwidth for their needs. NWLINKS members also benefit from the assistance of Region 1 in Moorhead when applying for grant funding, preparing E-rate applications, and more—saving each district time and money.

Bob Wheeler, NWLINKS Executive Director of Region 1, said, “There are a lot of advantages to this network.” He added, “And frankly, having all 18 independent local telecoms do things together has been great.”

A Story of Opposites
In the digital divide story there are the ‘have’ and the ‘have-nots’ when it comes to technology access. Part of the digital divide story is that people in rural areas do not have access to the same quality data networks as their big-city counterparts. This is demonstrated by ventures like the Google Fiber projects, which connect only the most populated locations in metropolitan cities.

The population density issue is one of the biggest challenges in getting advanced services to rural communities, yet the members of NMSA have overcome those obstacles.

“It’s a bit of a David and Goliath story. Our independent companies were created to specifically to serve these rural areas. We work hard and smart to create networks that rival any others—metropolitan or world-wide,” says Fish.

So, although the digital divide is real for some, the opposite is true for these northwest Minnesota schools and libraries. They are able to purchase all the data they need and the network is ready today for virtually any future demands.

Ultimately, the advanced technology network and new contract, are a great win for the children and communities of northwest Minnesota.

Posted by: Ann Treacy | February 24, 2015

How much broadband does a business need? Ask a business owner.

I’m pleased to share this letter below from business owner Kevin Wald of RITALKA. The letter comes to us from Julie Rath from the Redwood Falls Chamber. Mr. Wald speaks eloquently about the challenges of running an international business with dicey telecommunications. As he says, his customers don’t care if he is in New England, New Guinea, New York, or New Ulm – but they are disturbed by a dropped call. And he’s already dealing with terabytes of information. Terabytes are taking hours – and that doesn’t work in today’s instant culture. Also, he reports that recruiting to a community with slow broadband is a challenge.

New Ulm Mayor,

Good to catch up with you yesterday.

Background

As you know I currently utilize seven rural locations, six of them in Minnesota.

  • Benson
  • Montevideo
  • Granite Falls
  • Redwood Falls
  • New Ulm
  • Cloquet
  • Watertown SD

We have 225 employees, and expect growth to drive us to 400 employees in the next few years.

We provide engineering, manufacturing, and electronic repair & logistics services to twelve industries, via my collective companies.

Very exciting times for us and our employees.

You will be hard pressed to find someone that is more committed, and invested, in outstate rural Minnesota, than I.

When I hear of people talk of broadband, and cell phone coverage, two topics jump to mind.

Challenge for my Clients

First, the capabilities I need to compete on the world markets.

We have years where over 60% of what we design and build end up on foreign soil, or on/in foreign oceans.

Often our clients have a sizeable USA footprint, but they are multi cultural companies, and we deal with all corners of the globe.

I had just gotten off a phone call with Sweden, and the day before with Hong Kong, when we talked.

My clients do not care if I am in New England, New Guinea, New York, or New Ulm.

They just want high quality work, on time, and on budget.

The data we deal with daily, is huge in quantity, and huge in importance.

The electronic equipment we utilize uses words like “Terabytes”.

I have files that currently take many hours to deliver via digital means to my clients.

In an instant culture, my clients do not want to hear of my rural Minnesota woes of broadband.

Having a “dropped” cell phone is so foreign to some of my clients it can actually upset them.

Never feels good to hear “Where the hell are you,… (followed by a derogatory comment).”

Challenge for recruiting

Second, the expectations for basic services for potential employees looking to relocate is key.

You can imagine the image that comes to mind when a potential employee from a metropolitan area hears the following comments:

You have to stand in that corner of the building to get cell coverage.”

“You will not be able to use your internet effectively from 4 pm to 8 pm because the school kids are on line.”

“What brand of cell phone do you have, not all work out here.”

I find many candidates that are excited to raise a family in a rural community, but they do not want to live in the digital equivalence of the 1980’s.

Although I have no extra time each week while I attempt to operate and grow my nine companies, this is important.

I am offering myself as a member of a state wide committee on broadband and cell phone infrastructure.

Rural America has a great value proposition for our clients and our employees.

Let’s not let that be damaged by something so simple to resolve.

Our grandparents dealt with rural water and rural electric.

We can surely take care of rural cell phone and rural broadband.

Sincerely,

Kevin R. Wald
CEO
www.RITALKA.com

 

isantiFor the upcoming weeks I’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 Isanti County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 30.9
  • Number of Households: 13,972
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 55.13%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 91.54%

Isanti County is one of those counties where there’s a big difference in coverage based on whether you include mobile access or not.

Part of Isanti County was included in Anoka County’s ARRA project back in 2010. I know Cambridge was active in promoting broadband through an early Blandin Foundation program called Got Broadband. In fact I found a video they made as part of their participation that highlights broadband adoption programs in the community from 2009.

It’s a little disheartening to see that after early enthusiasm that Isanti County doesn’t have better coverage.

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…

Posted by: Ann Treacy | February 23, 2015

Minnesota Legislature Tech Bills: MN Broadband funding and more

After a busy week, I’m trying to catch up with bills that related to broadband and the Internet. Below are links to what I found. Sometimes the connection is a little strained, but I figured I’d include the, I’ve organized the bills into a few categories. The big news is that -the House and Senate both suggested continued support for the Minnesota Broadband Fund (HF0556, HF0593 & SF0439). There is also funding suggested for libraries and schools.

I’ll try to keep up on the ones with the strongest connection to broadband adoption and deployment.

Broadband Funding:

House

  • * HF0556 – Border-to-border broadband account funding provided, and money appropriated.
  • * HF0593 – Broadband development grant program provided funding, and money appropriated.
  • HF0583 – Regional library telecommunications aid and equity in telecommunications access funding provided, and money appropriated.
  • HF0943 – Public television equipment grants provided, and money appropriated.

Senate

  • * SF0439 – Border-to-border broadband account appropriation
  • * SF0438 – Broadband operational support, program delivery, availability mapping and data collection appropriation
  • SF0017  – Education department (MDE) equity in telecommunications access appropriation
  • SF0018  – Special technology revenue creation and levy authorization
  • SF0020  – School endowment fund school technology and telecommunications reserve dedication
  • SF0078  – Education telecommunications access equity aid appropriations
  • SF0394  – Assistive technology grant establishment and appropriation
  • SF0437  – Telecommunications aid to libraries and schools appropriation
  • SF0920  – State academies for the deaf and blind for technology enhancements appropriation

Provider Regulation or Taxing

House

  • HF0776 – Voice-over-Internet protocol service and Internet protocol-enabled service regulation prohibited.
  • HF0862 – Retail Sales definition relating to fiber optic and communication cable clarified.
  • HF0053 – Telecommunications equipment exemption expanded.
  • HF0572 – Utility licenses crossing public lands and waters fee exemption created.
  • HF0577 – Internet sales of restricted use pesticides restricted.
  • HF1066 – Competitive market regulation for local exchange carriers provided.

Senate

  • SF0736  – Telecommunications competitive market regulation for certain local exchange carriers
  • SF0877  – Utilities railroad right-of-way crossing permission requirement and procedure establishment
  • SF0895  – Voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) services and Internet protocol (IP)-enabled services regulation prohibition

Use/Prohibition of Broadband to Deliver Gov Services

House:

  • HF0051 – Lottery ticket sales through a website or self-service device suspended.
  • HF0374 – Lawful gambling; clarifying, conforming, and technical changes made; games, prizes, and other provisions regulating conduct of lawful gambling modified; and director of State Lottery prohibited from offering casino-style games, sale of tickets of the State Lottery through a website or self-service devices suspended.
  • HF0926 – Appleton; regional public television station funding provided, bonds issued, and money appropriated.

Senate

  • SF0128  – Civil commitment hearings interactive video conference use
  • SF0145  – Technology initiatives 1:1 device program guidelines commissioner of education research requirement
  • SF0188  – Web site or self-service device lottery ticket sale suspension authorization
  • SF0376  – Commercial business assumed name certificates Web site publication requirement
  • SF0397  – Blue Alert system establishment to aid in the apprehension of those who kill or injure law enforcement officers
  • SF0514  – Interactive Internet continuing education courses regulation modification
  • SF0632  – Automobile insurance proof in electronic format authorization
  • SF0662  – Food support, cash assistance, child care, and health care programs eligibility and application integrated online portal implementation requirement
  • SF0686  – Drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) law enforcement use regulation; electronic devices location information government entities search warrant requirement
  • SF0754  – Body camera use by law enforcement moratorium
  • SF0820  – Agriculture research, education and technology transfer board establishment and appropriation
  • SF0981  – Minnesota Telemedicine Act
  • SF0990  – Digital student achievement backpack establishment
  • SF1018  – MNsure exemption of MN.IT information technology services removal
  • SF1071  – Violence against health care workers in licensed hospitals preparedness and incident response guidelines establishment; violence prevention database development requirement

Consumer/Citizen Protection

House

  • HF0200 – Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act enacted.
  • HF0253 – Captioning required on all televisions and audiovisual display equipment used to communicate with the public.
  • HF0517 – Supercookie use and installation regulation, and remedies provided.

Senate

  • SF0419  – Crime of electronic impersonation establishment
  • SF0476  – Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act
  • SF0478  – Constitutional amendment providing for right of citizens to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures of electronic communications and data
  • SF0785  – Hacking into Web sites government entities search warrant requirement
  • SF0873  – Fair repair requirements for manufacturers of digital electronic equipment
  • SF0935  – Supercookies installation and use regulation
  • SF0985  – Cell phone use while driving prohibition
  • SF0987  – TV captioning requirement
  • SF1039  – Deputy registrar electronic medium records storage authorization

 

The Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission promotes economic development in Big Stone, Lac qui Parle, Chippewa, Swift and Yellow Medicine counties. They were Blandin MIRC (Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities) cohorts, which means they received support and funding from the Blandin Foundation (and ARRA funds) for broadband development. They have been working on broadband adoption for years.

Lac qui Parle also received ARRA funding to deploy FTTH. So as a group they have also been thinking about access. Prairie Business reports on their continued effort with Minnesota Broadband Funding…

Policy-makers in the counties see broadband access as critical to providing the economic and social competitiveness that constituents in the counties want, explained Dawn Hegland, executive director of Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission, which serves Big Stone, Lac qui Parle, Chippewa, Swift and Yellow Medicine counties.

The growing interest is paying dividends. The Minnesota Border-to-Border Broadband project recently awarded a $3.92 million grant to Big Stone County and Federated Telephone Cooperative to lay fiber optic cable to 1,072 sites in the county.

It follows the lead of Lac qui Parle County, which previously obtained $9.6 million in loan and grant funds to deliver fiber optic technology to an estimated 3,700 people. The county worked in partnership with Farmers Mutual Telephone to become a leader in rural, broadband access.

The RDC assisted Big Stone County in making its successful application for the Border-to-Border funding. It also assisted Swift County in applying for the funding. Hegland expects Swift County re-apply if the Legislature approves the funding to continue the Border-to-Border initiative.

Hegland said Chippewa and Yellow Medicine counties are likewise working with the RDC office on this broadband initiative.

It’s nice to see that regional approach.

In an effort to track the MN Broadband Fund projects..

SAINT CLOUD, Minn. – February 19, 2015 – NewCore Wireless, the leading full-service hosted switching and services provider, announced today they have been chosen by Palmer Wireless, a Central Minnesota communications company, to provide services that support their fiber to the home and business projects for an awarded Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant. The Minnesota Office of Broadband Development, an arm of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), awarded Palmer Wireless the grant earlier this year.

The Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program recently issued grants to expand broadband service in unserved and underserved regions throughout Minnesota. The grants aim to bring high-speed Internet to nearly 6,100 homes, 83 community institutions and hundreds of businesses statewide. Palmer Wireless, a recipient of one of the grants, will focus on the project to service 21 underserved businesses in the Becker Industrial Park, as well as 12 vacant city-owned lots covering 70 acres in this Central Minnesota town.

“Palmer Wireless is proud to have chosen NewCore Wireless as our partner in providing services for our upcoming project. NewCore Wireless has the most experience in rural service solutions and are truly dedicated to this industry and assisting its partners,” said Laura Kangas, Co-Founder of Palmer Wireless. “NewCore Wireless shares our commitment to helping address the challenges of improving network accessibility and keeping up with the ever-evolving demands of today’s rapidly-changing network. They are able to aggregate the needs of multiple companies across the upper Midwest and allow local companies to cost effectively deliver advanced solutions that have positive impacts on the communities they serve. Together we can expand economic development, create jobs and strengthen the Becker community for many years to come.”

The grant awarded to Palmer Wireless will focus on expanding service throughout the Becker, Minnesota coverage area. Expanding broadband Internet service has become critical for cities across the nation to compete in the new global economy. Having fiber to the home and business that delivers high speed Internet service has become a game changer for those communities.

“Palmer Wireless is focused on providing the best solution to our end users. In some situations, our 3G and 4G wireless network will be the best fit for a customer, whereas with other situations fiber will be the best solution,” further added Laura Kangas. “With our fiber solution to the Becker Community, we will be able to deliver up to 1 Gbps services where previously these businesses only had access to 3 to 6 Mbps service.”

“We are pleased to have been chosen by Palmer Wireless to assist with providing solutions to the Becker area,” said Paul Vershure, Executive Director of Site Development and Construction Services at NewCore Wireless. “Palmer Wireless has made great strides in providing surrounding residents, municipalities and businesses with better telecommunications services and technology. We look forward to working with them to continue their leadership and service offerings.”

NewCore Wireless is a full-service hosted wireless switching provider offering solutions to carriers. They provide technology platforms capable of switching 2G (GSM), 3G (UMTS) and 4G (LTE) wireless services, as well as Value Added Services like SMS, MMS, voicemail, prepaid, E911, CALEA and CMAS that allow small carriers the opportunity to compete on the same level as Tier 1 carriers.

NewCore Wireless, in addition to working with its business partners to provide hosted wireless switching solutions, has experience working with Federal, State and Local officials as well as municipality leaders to provide a host of solutions and services in both the wireline and wireless industries. The company has provided solutions for Smart Agriculture and agricultural monitoring, wireless surveillance, Wi-Fi solutions for school and school buses, fleet tracking and management and many more. To learn more about how NewCore Wireless is leading the Internet of Things (IoT) with its solutions and services, click here.

About NewCore Wireless NewCore Wireless is the leading full-service hosted wireless switching provider offering solutions to carriers. Our Switching Platforms are capable of providing 2G (GSM), 3G (UMTS) and 4G (LTE) wireless services.  We also provide Value Added Services like SMS, MMS, voicemail, prepaid, E911, CALEA and CMAS that allow small carriers the opportunity to compete on the same level as Tier 1 carriers.  NewCore Wireless was founded in 2008 with the mission of providing innovative technology solutions to rural carriers that deliver scalable, end-to-end solutions.  We offer each of our network partners the flexibility to run their own wireless business without the added expense of the core network.   The company is headquartered in St. Cloud, MN. For more information, visit www.newcorewireless.net

Media Contact:

Cami Zimmer, NewCore Wireless

Cami.Zimmer@NewCoreWireless.net 952-239-9822

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