Pew Research recently released their latest data on who is not online. Here’s a high level look…

  • 15% of American adults do not use the internet at all, and another 9% of adults use the internet but not at home.

As of May 2013, 15% of American adults ages 18 and older do not use the internet or email. Asked why they do not use the internet:

  • 34% of non-internet users think the internet is just not relevant to them, saying they are not interested, do not want to use it, or have no need for it.
  • 32% of non-internet users cite reasons tied to their sense that the internet is not very easy to use. These non-users say it is difficult or frustrating to go online, they are physically unable, or they are worried about other issues such as spam, spyware, and hackers. This figure is considerably higher than in earlier surveys.
  • 19% of non-internet users cite the expense of owning a computer or paying for an internet connection.
  • 7% of non-users cited a physical lack of availability or access to the internet.

Last summer, Connect Minnesota came out with a similar study for Minnesota and found that

  • 22% of adults did not subscribe to broadband at home

Of that 22%…

  • 41% said it wasn’t relevant
  • 19% said cost
  • 15% didn’t know
  • 13% lacked digital skills
  • 6% said it wasn’t available

There’s a distinction between the surveys; Pew looks as use and Connect MN looks at subscription but give that wiggle room and the fact that the survey is a year apart, the numbers are too different – except as Pew points out the number of people who lack digital skills or comfort is much higher in the more recent survey. What’s nice is that they went a step further to see what could possibly be down to reach them…

Overall, most adults who do not use the internet or email do not express a strong desire to go online in the future: just 8% of offline adults say they would like to start using the internet or email, while 92% say they are not interested. We also offline adults whether they would need assistance going online if they did wish to do so, and found that only 17% of all non-internet users say they would be able to start using the internet on their own, while 63% say they would need assistance.

I think it helps make the case that digital literacy and digital inclusion initiatives are valuable. I think the 34-41 percent who don’t see the relevance help make the case for a some kind of public service promotional campaign. Unfortunately I think that education is very tied into understanding of value. And in my experience we’re down to the folks are the very far reach of the digital divide and a one-to-many approach doesn’t work as well as the high tough individual training.

Posted by: Ann Treacy | October 8, 2014

IT Network Supervisor: Job Opportunity in Eagan

OK A little bit off my beaten path, but I figure the right person for this job with the City of Eagan might be reading…

IT Network Supervisor

DEPARTMENT:  Information Technologies

ACCOUNTABLE TO: Information Technology (IT) Manager

TO APPLY: Apply online

APPLICATION DEADLINE:  Friday, October 10th at 4:30p.m.


The Information Technology (IT) Network Supervisor is a new position and is responsible to assist the IT Manager with the research, evaluation, design, procurement, implementation, administration and management of all network equipment.  The IT Network Supervisor is expected to find and solve problems, make improvements, and document the City and AccessEagan networks under their own initiative, without close supervision.  This position will be a shared resource and expected to split their time between to the City’s network and AccessEagan Fiber network (an open access fiber network available for business, commercial, and institutional use).

Position is the primary point of contact for AccessEagan Service Providers wanting to lease capacity from the City’s open access fiber network (AccessEagan), so strong customer service skills and dedicated follow-through are important.

Position may be supervising additional staff in the future. (Learn more)

Posted by: Ann Treacy | October 7, 2014

Blandin Broadband eNews October 2014

News from the Blandin on Broadband Blog

Minnesota Fall Broadband Conference Join community broadband champions, thought leaders and policy makers from across the state to recharge and celebrate shared efforts to make border to border broadband come true for Minnesota. Sponsored by Blandin Foundation and Connect Minnesota, the Border to Border Broadband: No Community Left Behind conference is being held November 18-19 at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd.

New Research on Local Government Models for Broadband Development

With support from the Blandin Foundation, Chris Mitchell from the Institute for Local Self Reliance has published a report that highlights several Minnesota communities and their varied approaches to local government-led efforts for local fiber networks.

Minnesota Businesses Want Faster Broadband

New research released by Connect Minnesota shows that while online sales represent substantial revenues for state businesses, a significant number of Minnesota businesses want faster Internet service.

MN Public Broadband Alliance

MN Public Broadband Alliance is a group of community leaders who are interested in finding ways to support community broadband networks. They have met several times – urban members are finding that rural members are as well served as urban and potentially more valuable to a statewide effort. Member Dan Olsen provides an update.

Remote Healthcare Made Easy

GrandCare demonstrated their home healthcare and remote monitoring system to attendees of the Minnesota State Fair. As they explain, “If you can work a TV remote, you can use a telehealth home healthcare system.”

Funding Opportunities

  • Blandin Foundation is accepting applications for the 2015-2016 Blandin Broadband Community (BBC) program. Participating communities enter into an intensive two-year partnership with the Foundation and have access to a series of Foundation resources, including planning and facilitation support, a fund for community broadband-related projects, training and technical support, and more. Deadline is October 17.
  • The Minnesota Office of Broadband Development has released the application for Minnesota Broadband Funds. $20 million is available; up to $5 million available for any grant. The deadline to apply is October 28.


  • The FCC released their Rural Experiments Application form but delayed the opening and closing date. The FCC will host a webinar on the process on October 9. They also discussed the process at the recent FTTH Council meeting. (Link includes video of FTTH Council presentation.)
  • The Minnesota Department of Human Services has money to “help communities rebalance their long-term care service delivery system and increase their capacity to help people age 65 and older to stay in their own homes and communities.” Sounds like an opportunity for telehealth applications.
  • Frontier Communications and Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) have developed a new $10 million partnership set on driving growth and revitalization in rural towns and cities within the telco’s 27-state territory.
  • The Bush Foundation, Verizon Foundation, USDA, Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge and Minnesota Local Government Innovation awards all have funding opportunities that could support broadband expansion efforts.

Conference & Meeting Notes

  • Minnesota Broadband Task Force The Task Force met in Perham, which provided an opportunity to hear from Arvig, the local provider. A representative from John Deere gave a presentation on precision agriculture and the Task Force talked about their 2014-2015 Annual report and presented recommendations from the sub-groups. (Link includes both presentations and video from the meeting.) They also discussed a letter from Regional Resiliency asking them to look at a number of regulation and policy issues (such as reimbursement parity) that are currently acting as a roadblock to greater use of telehealth applications.
  • NATOA in St Paul The National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Administrators met in St Paul last week for their annual conference. They discussed broadband adoption, deployment, policy and plans. FCC Chair Tom Wheeler was an inspirational keynote speaker. Senator Schmit and Representative Simonson were recognized for their role in improving broadband policy in Minnesota.
  • NTIA Workshop NTIA Workshop held a workshop in Minneapolis that highlighted many ARRA-funded projects. Two key ingredients mentioned by communities with successful broadband projects were communication and partnership. A number of providers spoke about how they managed FTTH – from funding to construction to marketing. And the NTIA introduced their collection of lessons learned.
  • FTTH Council Meeting The FTTH Council Meeting also met in Minneapolis. With a balance of community-minded folks and commercial providers, it was interesting to see where there was agreement and where there were differences. Everyone agrees that where there is economic potential, providers are going with fiber. It is cheaper to maintain – it’s just a matter of upgrade schedules, which may or may not fit the community’s hope for fiber. There are some differences in how to encourage fiber (or better broadband) to areas without economic potential. Building demand is a great start. But after that, the question is how much money makes is appealing, does one-time investment make a difference or is it a matter of streamlining the process by reducing regulatory barriers – such as permits, rights-of-way and cable franchising.

Broadband News Around Minnesota

The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities spoke to and/or visited a number of towns around Minnesota to get them talking about the need for expanded broadband.

The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities spoke to and/or visited a number of towns around Minnesota to get them talking about the need for expanded broadband.

Dakota County
Network Collaboration Engineer David Asp and .Net Systems Analyst Rosalee McCready speak with Chris Mitchell at the Institute for Local Self Reliance on the County’s approach to maximizing all opportunities to get fiber and conduit in the ground.

Elk River
Schools in Elk River Minnesota are preparing students today for jobs tomorrow by offering coding classes to sixth graders.

Fond du Lac Reservation
Students from the Ojibwe School wrote essays on “What broadband can do for my community.”

Those same students participated in a summer “App Camp” and recently had an opportunity to show of the mobile apps they had created.

Itasca County
Itasca County has been working with the Blandin Foundation and COS Systems to find broadband gaps and opportunities for partnership in the region through a tool developed by COS Systems.

Lac qui Parle County
Broadband access and education help local businesses use the Internet to research and promote their products in LqP.

Lac qui Parle Valley
LqPV “strutted their stuff” with a presentation on their Blandin Broadband Community efforts including live streaming of school events and programming by students, iPads in the classroom and a tech engineering center.

Lake County
Lake County “strutted their stuff” with a presentation on their Blandin Broadband Community efforts including senior digital literacy training to keep people in their homes, a community web portal and lie streaming programming and computers to low income families.

Lake of the Woods
Lake of the Woods “strutted their stuff” with a presentation on their Blandin Broadband Community efforts including local hotspots for public use, computers to low income families and lots of training.

Little Falls (District 09B)
Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls encourages local citizens to think about the Minnesota Broadband fund and how it can improve area Internet service and broadband access in Greater Minnesota.

Mille Lacs County
Mille Lacs County “strutted their stuff” with a presentation on their Blandin Broadband Community efforts including Wi-Fi on buses, computers to low income families, business training and conversations on feasibility studies on how to improve access and affordability in the community.

Northern Minnesota
Paul Buyan Communications announces plans to launch the GigaZone, their new advanced regional Gigabit fiber network that will be one of the largest Gigabit networks in the country. The move to Gig gets kudos from other Minnesota providers, such as Gary Evans (formerly of HBC).

St Cloud The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities spoke and/or visited a number of towns around Minnesota to get them talking about the need for expanded broadband.

St Paul
Concordia University has partnered with The Learning House, Inc., to launch Coding Bootcamp@Concordia, the first credit-bearing coding camp in the US.

A plan to create a high-speed Internet link to the Minnesota governor’s mansion in St. Paul has been shelved amid questions about its purpose and $261,000 price tag.

Southwest Minnesota
SMBS “strutted their stuff” with a presentation on their Blandin Broadband Community efforts including social media breakfasts, community hotspots and devices in the library.

Twin Cities
In 2015 Minneapolis Employment and Training in partnership with MHTA will kick-off an innovative new approach to training workers by launching a series of Minneapolis Coding Bootcamps.


Oct 9-10: Minnesota Telecom Alliance (MTA) Fall Conference (Minneapolis)

Oct 10: What is a MOOC? (Minneapolis and online)

November 18-19: Border to Border Broadband: No Community Left Behind (Brainerd)

Looking for more events? Check out TechDotMN’s calendar Many events are based in the Twin Cities but it is a comprehensive list. (If you have an upcoming event, consider submitting it.)

I’m going to share the following news – although I haven’t been able to find much more about the newly formed (or maybe just newly named) Vast Broadband. I did learn that WOW is the 13th largest cable provider in the US. According to the press release below they serve 50,000 customers over 14 states. They have an office in Tracy MN

Pamlico Capital and Clarity Telecom Complete Acquisition to Form Vast Broadband

Pamlico Capital (“Pamlico”) and the management team of Clarity Telecom (“Clarity”) have closed the previously announced acquisition of broadband assets in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa from WOW! Internet, Cable & Phone (“WOW!”). The Clarity team will transition the platform from WOW! in the coming months and rebrand the operation as Vast Broadband, while continuing to provide high-speed broadband, video and voice services to more than 50,000 residential and commercial customers. Clarity and WOW! will work together to provide a smooth transition for customers and employees.

Pamlico initially partnered with Clarity’s management team in 2003 to build NewWave Communications (“NewWave”), a rural broadband company that grew to serve 160,000 subscribers. After successfully exiting NewWave through transactions with Time Warner Cable (2011) and Rural Broadband Investments (2013), Pamlico partnered with Jim Gleason, Keith Davidson, and Larry Eby to create Clarity Telecom, a search company formed to pursue rural broadband investments. Clarity identified WOW!’s systems in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa as an attractive platform for growth and entered into a definitive agreement to purchase the assets in June.

Jim Gleason, CEO of Clarity, noted, “We’re delighted to complete the purchase of the WOW! Properties in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. The growth opportunities considering the local economy, the excellent network and the local staff commitment make this a very exciting acquisition into the broadband communications industry. Our team has evaluated many opportunities in the past year and we’re excited to partner with Pamlico to re-enter the broadband space.”

Pamlico Partner Art Roselle said, “We’re pleased to complete the purchase of the WOW! systems and excited to get to work building Vast Broadband with the Clarity team. We remain very impressed with the quality of the systems we have acquired, and believe that under the management of Jim Gleason and his seasoned team, the systems represent an attractive platform for building a leading broadband business.”

The acquisition represents the fourth investment in Pamlico Capital III, a fund with $650 million of aggregate commitments.

Pamlico and Clarity were advised by K&L Gates LLP (legal counsel). GE Capital and SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc. provided debt financing to support the transaction.

I know I’ve written a lot about the App Camp in Fond du Lac, but I think it’s pretty cool and the Blandin Foundation created this great video so I figured it was worth sharing the story again…

Posted by: Ann Treacy | October 3, 2014

MyBallot Voting app: help make it better

MyBallotI’m a long time volunteer for E-Democracy. One of the early (web) apps developed by another E-Democracy volunteer is MyBallot. Visit it, type in your geographic information and it will tell you who is going to be on your election ballot this election.

BUT there is one big caveat … MyBallot is only the app and it’s free but it’s up to everyone to keep it up to date. I see that the information is right for my zip code. Is it right for yours? if it’s not please send a note to

I mention MyBallot because I think it’s a helpful tool, because its Minnesotan but also because it’s a great example of how technology promotes crowdsourcing of civic tools. It’s up to all of us to make sure it’s accurate for all of us. But if we all pitch in we all have a very helpful tool that can save many of us from reinvesting the wheel.

The NATOA (National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors) held their annual conference in St Paul this week. I was able to attend some sessions.

The big highlight was FCC Chairman as lunchtime keynote. He could be a coach! He spoke about Net Neutrality, competition, the role permit-decider have in attracting providers, the (You can find his remarks online.) I thought his remarks on the network compact were interesting:

I also heard an update on policy issues – federal and local. The Internet sales tax was a hot topic. From the world of not-so-shocking – no one wants to pay taxes, people want the benefits tax supports. It seems as if NATOA is hoping for a temporary extension to the No Sales Tax plan rather than a permanent decision. They also discussion the Wireless Tax Fairness Act and touched on Net Neutrality and the Comcast Time Warner Merger. League of Minnesota Cities’ Laura Ziegler gave a nice run down on the Minnesota Broadband Fund and how it came to be:

Next I attended a session Public Options for Broadband Deployment. William Aycock from Wilson NC spoke about how their local existing municipal utility took on the issue of broadband. Joanne Hovis framed the option of public networks for communities – by posing deployment as ownership as opposed to  renting from someone else. Jim Baller was able to add the Minnesota spin:

I was sorry to miss the first day, which focused a lot of adoption. I posted the agenda late last week. I’ll try to post more details if they come out.

Read More…

Fun to share a new report on Minnesota community broadband initiatives…

In 2010 the Minnesota legislature set a goal: universal access to high speed broadband throughout the state by 2015. As 2015 approaches we know that large parts of Greater Minnesota will not achieve that goal, even as technological advances make the original benchmarks increasingly obsolete.

But some Minnesota communities are significantly exceeding those goals. Why? The activism of local governments.

A new report by ILSR, widely recognized as one of the most knowledgeable organizations on municipal broadband networks, details the many ways Minnesota’s local governments have stepped up. “All Hands On Deck: Minnesota Local Government Models for Expanding Fiber Internet Access” includes case studies of 12 Minnesota cities and counties striving to bring their citizens 21st century telecommunications.

“When national cable and telephone companies have refused to modernize their communications systems, local governments have stepped up. And in the process saved money, attracted new businesses, and made it more likely that their youth will stick around,” says Chris Mitchell, Director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s (ILSR) Community Broadband Networks Initiative.

  • Windom, which is one of the most advanced networks in the state, built their own network after their telephone company refused to invest in their community.
  • Dakota County showed how a coordinated excavation policy can reduce by more than 90 percent the cost of installing fiber.
  • Lac qui Parle County partnered with a telephone cooperative to bring high speed broadband to its most sparsely population communities.

ILSR’s report is particularly timely because this week, the governor’s office began accepting applications for the state’s new $20 million initiative Border-to-Border program.  “We hope that before communities submit their applications they read this report to learn what others have done,” says Mitchell.

GrandCare is a Minnesota company that develops telehealth systems that allow people to stay in their homes longer. The system lets the patient check in with family and health care professionals. GrandCare gave a presentation at the Minnesota State Fair this year. I think they do a nice job of explaining what they do to a wide audience. It’s really a great example of using technology to expand health care common sense and meeting the patient where they are at… Read More…

Posted by: Ann Treacy | September 30, 2014

Broadband helps rural businesses promote products

A couple weeks ago I was in Lac qui Parle County working with the EDA to help promote local businesses online. I spoke with Jean Menden who uses her broadband connection to promote her beautifully hand-crafted jewelry and to take online classes to improve and increase her skills in various part of jewelry making and silver smithing…

Posted by: Ann Treacy | September 29, 2014

Broabdand helps small business do research in Dawson MN

A couple weeks ago I was in Lac qui Parle County working with the EDA to help promote local businesses online. I spoke with Sam’s Equipment about their use of technology. They sell reused and recycled equipment parts. Mostly they broadband for research but it was interesting to hear the impact and about plans for future use…

Big news from NECA Washington Watch

The Wireline Competition Bureau issued a Public Notice on September 26, 2014, releasing the Rural Broadband Experiments application Form 5610 and providing additional information on completing Form 5610. The Bureau also announced a delay in the opening of the filing window and the corresponding deadline for the submission of rural broadband experiment applications to complete testing of the electronic submission system. The Bureau anticipates testing will be completed in four to six weeks. The Bureau will release a public notice announcing the revised deadline for applications at a later date. The Bureau also postponed the webinar originally scheduled for September 29 until October 9.

An just in time, I wanted to share video taken by Ron Corriveau at COS Systems at FTTH Council conference earlier this month in Minneapolis. He was able to capture the session on Preparing to File for the FCC Rural Broadband Experiments. It was complicated and detailed but if you are thinking about applying, I think it would be extremely valuable. One hiccup – I’ve been trying to get the middle piece to upload to YouTube with less than stellar success. But I figured I’d post what I can and add the third later if I can iron out the wrinkles.

I think the info from the sessions would be extremely valuable if you’re looking to apply. Pretty dry if you aren’t.

Itasca County has been working with the Blandin Foundation and COS Systems to find broadband gaps and opportunities for partnership in the region through a tool developed by COS Systems. (I wrote more about the system in August when the project started.)

The Blandin Foundation recently posted an update on the project…

Connect Itasca is an initiative, facilitated by Itasca County, to gather quality information and facilitate partnerships to stimulate investment in broadband networks that reach throughout Itasca County.

Information is being collected through an online and print survey to identify specific areas where people lack the broadband service they desire.

“Our hope is to identify the areas of need and to partner with existing providers to justify expanding existing service areas,” said Klein.

Expanded service equals expanded opportunity – for existing and new businesses, residents, students, etc. Research shows that 30- to 50-year-olds are choosing to move to rural, but they expect a solid broadband connection to be part of the relocation package.

And a reminder for folks in the area to submit their two cents…

Survey data is being collected through October 31, 2014. If you live in Itasca County, you can take the survey here. It will take about 5 minutes. For up-to-date information about Connect Itasca, follow their Facebook page.

Even if you’re not in Itasca County, it’s worth checking out the system because it is works in Itasca it just might work in your area too.

Posted by: Ann Treacy | September 29, 2014

All for one for broadband when providers focus on same goal

I am posting the following editorial from Gary Evan with permission. It was originally posted in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. One of the things that strikes me is the solidarity of two private broadband providers who are each striving to bring better broadband to Minnesota. It reminds me of the mid-1990s when we used to host IPS lunches, email lists and educational opportunities. A time when people recognized that the network worked better when everyone worked together. It worked for the community and the business…

Paul Bunyan Communications deserves praise for its serious investment in broadband infrastructure in northern Minnesota (‘“GigaZone’” comes Up North,” Sept. 19). As a cooperative, Paul Bunyan can expand world-class service because its customers are also its shareholders. Too often, larger providers’ out-of-state shareholders demand quick returns on investments, inhibiting costly broadband expansions. Partly as a result, a governor’s task force ranks Minnesota 23rd nationally in terms of broadband speed.

High-quality broadband means economic growth. For example, a Blandin Foundation-commissioned study found high-quality broadband in Kanabec County could spur $18.2 million in business revenue. Currently, 71 percent of households there — and 46 percent of Greater Minnesota households — don’t meet state speed goals.

Thankfully, the Legislature recently established a broadband fund to target areas with greatest need and economic return, while helping align a provider’s short-term need for a return on investment and a community’s long-term need for broadband infrastructure.

State leaders should follow the task force recommendation to devote $200 million to the fund so Greater Minnesota — and the state — can reap broadband’s benefits.


The writer is president of the Greater Minnesota Partnership and former CEO of Hiawatha Broadband Communications.

Gary wasn’t the only one who noted Paul Bunyan’s efforts, Lee Schafer also had an article in the paper putting Paul Bunyan’s investment n perspective.

The company, based in Bemidji, had about $54 million in 2013 revenue. That makes it an awfully small company to be installing miles and miles of fiber. Johnson said that he was even a bit surprised to learn, after tallying up all the capital investments made in its fiber-optic network, that the total thus far is about $150 million.

“It really wasn’t thrown out there like ‘Do you want to spend $150 million?’ ” said Johnson. “We are a cooperative. So it’s in our DNA to look through the lens of ‘what to our members need?’ Not ‘Is it going to be super-profitable,’ that kind of thing.”

The cooperative has borrowed money from a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But those were loans, not grants. Beyond that, he said “it’s just been our own investment. It’s been pay-as-you-go, for over a decade.”

Not only does Johnson explain that there was nothing easy about it, he’s nothing but a fan of public financing for broadband like Minnesota’s new $20 million broadband grant program. The company would take any help it could get to continue to expand Paul Bunyan’s network.

Paul Bunyan’s service territory extends east to Grand Rapids, with parts of it extending all the way to just east of International Falls. Johnson called the network “99 percent” ready for the first 1-gigabit customers to be turned on early next year, at a price of $100 per month for Internet access.

Posted by: Ann Treacy | September 28, 2014

Coding Bootcamps to start in the Twin Cities in 2015

Such a good idea! I wanted to share for folks who might be able to take advantage of the opportunity and for commutnies that might want to replicate the opportunity for their residents. There’s a great opportunity from the City of Minneapolis Employment and Training in partnership with Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA)…

Starting early next year, City of Minneapolis Employment and Training in partnership with Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) will kick-off an innovative new approach to training workers for in-demand jobs in the growing technology sector by launching a series of Minneapolis Coding Bootcamps. The initiative came at the request of the White House Office of Science and Technology and the Wadhwani Foundation.

“Minneapolis, like many cities, is ideal for the coding bootcamp initiative because of its size, growing demand for tech workers, willing employers, and innovative workforce development efforts,” said Lynn Overmann Senior Advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Best practices from national training models are currently being explored by the City and MHTA to be used in Minneapolis. Input from tech employers will also be incorporated to ensure that the training meets current and future industry needs. The coding bootcamps will be marketed towards a variety of populations including women, vets, and minorities who may or may not have formal training in the IT industry, but are willing to learn and are eager to adapt current skills and learn new skills.

The first Minneapolis Coding Bootcamp is expected to take place in early 2015 with a class size of about 20-25 students. Employers interested in helping to develop the program and/or connecting with graduates of the coding bootcamps can contact Andrew Wittenborg at 952.230.4551.

The program is being funded by a blend of state and local funding together with a $100,000 commitment from the CompTIA Foundation, to provide a total of $400,000.

For more information please visit the City of Minneapolis website.

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 837 other followers

%d bloggers like this: