In the first of a two-part series, Northland News tells the story of broadband need in their area in part by telling the story of a woman who runs her business out of the library because she can’t get adequate broadband at home.

Whitney Crettol works out of the library. She has a 4G hotspot, but uses is judiciously. (I assume because of data caps although the story didn’t say.) She also has two students at home who have each received an iPad at school, which they can’t really use at home or at least can’t get online.

This is what life is like for someone who lives 15 miles outside of Virginia. The story goes on to cite an number of reports and resources, many found in the 2015 Minnesota Broadband Task Force report… (Given many readers will know that report well, I found the first hand story even more compelling.)

She isn’t alone.

In a 2014 report, the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband found nearly 37 percent of rural Minnesota homes are underserved by state-set broadband standards.

Many lawmakers in St. Paul agree: broadband access for those areas is critical for business, especially if the state hopes to meets it goal of being in the top five states for broadband access.

“Minnesota wants to be a leader in certain areas, and this is certainly one of those areas,” said Rep. Erik Simonson (DFL-Duluth).

In 2014 the legislature approved $20 million dollars for 17 broadband projects in 83 Minnesota communities.

“In order to build out Minnesota, on kind of a border-to-border range if you will, is about one to three billion dollar initiative,” Simonson said. “That certainly shouldn’t be all government money, but the Government can certainly take a place in promoting economic development, because you do get a pretty significant return on those investments.”

In fact, a 2014 study found that a one percent increase in broadband adoption could result in 8,307 jobs saved or created and a $517 million growth in the economy. 

According to Senator Klobuchar’s website

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Thune (R-SD) led a bipartisan coalition of sixty-one senators calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to modernize rules intended to ensure that Americans in rural areas have access to affordable broadband services. … Senator Al Franken (D-MN) was one of the signatories of the letter to the FCC.

Here is the text of the letter they sent…

Dear Chairman Wheeler:

On May 6, 2014, 44 Senators signed a bipartisan letter calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to move forward on tailored modifications to modernize the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) as it supports the delivery of communications services to consumers in high-cost portions of the United States served by small, rural rate-of-return-regulated local exchange carriers. While we commend the FCC for its continuing efforts to implement a Connect America Fund for consumers in areas served by larger carriers, we are troubled that the FCC has yet to take meaningful steps to address one of the most problematic aspects of the existing USF rules in areas served by smaller carriers.

As you know, Americans are increasingly “cutting the cord” and dropping their traditional landline voice “plain old telephone service” (POTS) in favor of wireless or voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service. Many of these consumers, however, still desire fixed broadband services that offer robust speeds – in fact, fixed broadband services are necessary for consumers to make effective use of VoIP service.

Unfortunately, the FCC’s USF rules have not kept pace with changing technology and shifting consumer preference. Instead, out-of-date rules tie high-cost USF cost recovery for small rural carriers to a consumer’s actual purchase of voice service, even if the consumer no longer wants that service and only wants broadband service. The POTS requirement prevents rural consumers from making choices that are available to their urban counterparts. Ironically, these outdated rules may hurt lower-income rural consumers the most, possibly putting the price of broadband out of reach unless those consumers make the additional expenditures to buy POTS as well.

A year after the previous letter, the time has come to take common-sense steps to update the rules. While long-term options to modify USF support can and should be explored, as you’ve committed to doing via the Connect America Fund Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC must not leave consumers in the lurch given the substantial time needed to develop, evaluate, and implement such options. No new models or sweeping changes are needed to adopt and implement a targeted update to fix the issue highlighted in this and last year’s letters – instead a simple plan that isolates and solves this specific issue is all that is needed right now. In addition, we continue to support measures that ensure USF distributions are invested prudently and reasonably, which helps provide the credibility necessary for the FCC to fulfill its statutory mandate.

Small rural carriers have worked hard to provide innovative services to some of the most difficult-to-serve parts of our country. However, without the update to the USF support rules described in this letter and in the letter last year, many rural consumers will continue to be denied a choice among these innovative services. As the FCC continues to modernize USF to support broadband deployment, we must ensure rural consumers are not left behind by antiquated rules that inhibit investment, adoption, and consumer choice. We therefore renew our call for the FCC to expeditiously make careful, targeted updates to the existing USF mechanisms to provide sufficient and predictable support so that consumers in areas served by smaller rural carriers can make the choice to obtain robust broadband services at affordable rates without being compelled to purchase other services.

Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to continuing to work with you to update USF to ensure rural consumers receive reasonably comparable voice and broadband communications services of their choosing at reasonably comparable rates.

Posted by: Ann Treacy | May 13, 2015

Is the Legislature cheating rural Minnesota on broadband?

Rural voices are being heard – at least by the media – when it comes to the need for ubiquitous access to broadband, which means support from the State to reach the far corners of Minnesota where low population density and large space make it difficult for a business alone to make a business case to build better broadband.

MinnPost frames the story well..

So­-called “high speed Internet” has been a fact of life in Minnesota’s metropolitan areas long enough that many urban consumers have a hard time remembering the slow, juddering era when photos, much less videos, took “forever” (OK, a minute or more) to download and play. Never mind the reliable, routine streaming of Netflix or HBO Now; the Internet experience “back then” was rudimentary at best.

To paraphrase Bill Clinton, the “was” still “is” the case for 40 percent of Minnesotans beyond the borders of the Twin Cities, Rochester, Duluth and a few other cities. And as the current legislative session grinds through its final days, that situation doesn’t seem likely to change appreciably, despite both parties’ loud promises to be the best friend Greater Minnesotans have ever had.

The article goes on to look at the politics and technology of the issue.

The Minnesota High Tech Association just opened the nomination period is open for 2015 Tekne Awards. I would love to see the gates get flooded with nominations for rural people, places and companies!

We are pleased to announce that the application and nomination period for the 2015 Tekne Awards is open! The awards celebrate the individuals and organizations that play a significant role in discovering new technologies that educate and improve the lives of Minnesotans and people around the world. The 2015 Tekne Awards have fourteen categories, including three new awards that recognize applied analytics, financial services, and the rapid growth of the Internet of Things. Applications are due July 10. LEARN MORE

Posted by: Ann Treacy | May 13, 2015

Update on fiber build out in Lake County

I want to thank the folks from Lake County for the update on their fiber project…

Construction, engineering and installation crews are working diligently to bring high-speed broadband services to underserved areas of Lake and eastern St. Louis Counties.  Crews are installing fiber and completing drops daily, working toward the timeline goals for a June 30/September 30 completion. With warmer weather upon us, frost out of the ground and longer days, constructions crews should exceed mileage for daily construction.

The biggest goal throughout this project has been to provide fiber-optic broadband access to rural, underserved areas of these counties.  With a project of this breadth there are bound to be obstacles. While project leadership has been proactive with communicating concerns, these unforeseen issues have caused the project significant delay. Project leadership is working to ensure these high-demand services are delivered to all project communities and townships.

While we are reliant on the construction crews for management to complete these routes on time and on-budget, we are hopeful the progress we have seen this spring will carry through the next months to maintain our timeline.  Lake County and project leadership cannot comment on the implications if these timelines are not met, that would be better directed to the federal agency that provides funding for the broadband project, the Rural Utility Service.

Lake Connections continues to receive applications for service throughout the project territories daily. 

It’s a hurry up and wait game for those of us watching for the legislative budget issues. There’s not much to see now but decisions are being made in preparation for the budget deadlines next week. So it’s a good time to contact a legislator if you have an issue – such as wanting to see more investment in rural Minnesota.

Today the Minneapolis Star Tribune ran an editorial from Senator Matt Schmit, a vocal advocate for rural broadband…

Instead of building upon last year’s momentum, we’re poised to take a significant step back.

The Senator connects with one frustration many of us have in the field – people care about the topic but that concern is not being heard…

Just a year and a half ago, hundreds of Minnesotans turned out for our broadband listening tour. The takeaways were clear: We have a diverse state with various providers, markets and geography; a one-size-fits-all approach won’t connect the state, so we need to empower local problem-solvers, and, finally, folks are tired of talking about the issue — we need action.

Unfortunately, though, we’re still doing too much talking — and the lip service is getting tiresome.

The last Legislature put a down payment on what was intended to be a sustained, significant effort to expand broadband access. Last year’s $20 million appropriation will connect more than 6,000 homes, hundreds of businesses and scores of community anchor institutions — such as libraries, schools and hospitals — with high-speed Internet built for the long haul. These communities will be competitively positioned against the world’s best connected for economic opportunity and quality of life.

In round one of Minnesota’s “Border-to-Border Broadband” matching grant fund, 17 of 40 applications were awarded funding, leveraging at least $45 million in infrastructure investment. However, many potential applicants held out for round two, where more funding was expected to be at stake. In fact, Minnesota led all states in response to a 2014 federal inquiry of need, touting more than $600 million in shovel-ready projects throughout the state.

But this Legislature isn’t taking the challenge seriously. Instead, the Senate is proposing a 15 percent cut to the matching-grant program; the House proposes a 60 percent cut. Minnesota didn’t make a big splash by allocating significant resources to its fund; after all, New York devoted $500 million to its upstate effort. Instead, we settled for building the fund slowly — but now even that approach appears in doubt.

Minnesota has a projected $2 billion budget surplus — and we’re struggling to pledge 1 percent of our one-time excess to an urgent one-time need. Instead of building upon last year’s momentum, this Legislature risks taking a significant step back.

Posted by: Ann Treacy | May 12, 2015

What can you do with fiber? Support Data Centers!

The St Cloud Times recently ran an informative article on data centers. I suspect most people reading this article know what a data center is – but the highlight is that it’s a global industry with nothing but room to grow and a great use of fiber.

Here’s what the article says about date centers and infrastructure…

A data center also needs to be relatively close to a fiber optic network to allow access to multiple service providers.

The Corporate Center has access to more than a dozen fiber optic service providers. And striving to be a carrier neutral data center, Unger said potential clients will have access to most network providers.

“There is a 10-foot fiber ring around the area (around the Corporate Center),” Unger said.

This, coupled with the strong structural integrity of the building, made the Corporate Center the logical place for Unger to expand Vaultas in St. Cloud.

Something to think about as you look for partners in your community to support a fiber build out or help make better use of fiber. The article is a quick primer on the basics of a data center – a potentially persuasive resource for your toolkit. The article points out that Minnesota has some advantages over other parts of the world due to lack of natural disasters. We’ve seen Eagan and Duluth make good homes to data centers.

For a community, a data center can be a good anchor tenant for the infrastructure.

Today (May 11) is the 80th anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt signing Executive Order 7037 establishing the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), a temporary agency tasked with deciding how to fund rural electric systems.

People often compare the REA to efforts to spread broadband to rural areas. It’s a good reminder of the power (pun intended) of the cooperatives and an opportunity to look back at the impact of the investment in rural areas. Here’s one example from the USDA

A 1954 Rural Lines newsletter noted that “Three years ago, not one acre of rice was being grown in the area served by the rural electric system [the Mississippi Delta]…Today more than 19,000 acres are planted…” Rural electrification provided irrigation capability, which increased farm earnings and helped rural economies grow.

Broadband can change rural areas and even agriculture in the same way!

According to the Hudson Star Observer

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association (WSTA), unveiled a new interactive map that identifies more than 100 business and industrial parks in Wisconsin with gigabit broadband availability. WEDC and WSTA say the map provides Wisconsin with a competitive edge in business attraction.

The business park information is included atwww.LocateInWisconsin.com which is WEDC’s free online search tool for businesses looking to expand or relocate in Wisconsin. The icon for Gigabit Parks is located along the horizontal bar above the interactive map of Wisconsin.

I know that we need to look globally to be competitive, after all with broadband our businesses can work easily with anyone and they can work with us. BUT sometimes it starts with borrowing good ideas from our closest competitors and building on that.

Below is what Wisconsin looks like. I think we can do better! It would be great to see someone pick up on the idea!

WI gigabit

There are plenty of Best Buys in Minnesota Good luck!!

Best Buy Community Grants Program
The Best Buy Community Grants Program provides support to community-based organizations that are located within 50 miles of a Best Buy facility. Grants promote programs that create hands-on learning opportunities for underserved teens to engage them in learning, experimenting, and interacting with the latest technologies to build 21st century skills. Eligible programs must build technology skills utilizing cutting-edge technology such as computers, digital cameras, video cameras, and professional software; deliver community-based youth programs for teens, ages 13-18, during out of school time; and serve a diverse population. Grants typically range from $4,000 to $6,000, and will not exceed $10,000. Public and nonprofit community-based organizations (e.g., community centers, schools, and libraries) are eligible to apply. Online proposals may be submitted between June 1 and June 29, 2015. Visit the Best Buy website to review the program guidelines.

Broadband is not an expense, it’s an investment. The story below exemplifies that from start to finish. I want to add for folks in urban areas that rural businesses understand that it’s an investment for them the problem can be getting the bandwidth they need and paying going rates. That’s why the community (maybe provider, maybe local government, maybe EDA or Chamber of Commerce) gets involved because to keep thriving businesses in Minnesota, they have to have access to the resources they need and that means broadband.

From the Northwest Minnesota Foundation Blog

Since 2012, I have owned and operated a small business in Greater Minnesota called Weave Got Maille. As a supplier of jewelry making components, we started small — traditionally what you would think of as a “mom and pop” shop. When the business opened, I had planned on being part-time and having the store as a hobby.

But then, broadband service revolutionized the way we did business. We went from hoping for $40,000 in sales to having $1 million within reach by the end of 2015, and from one part-time employee to 12 full-time employees with the intention of hiring eight more. We do business in 56 countries and are planning to build a new $500,000 facility to accommodate our growth. …

Over the years, we’ve had to painfully decline business partnerships because of Ada’s broadband limitations. I was on an island in the digital world, which limited my company’s ability to keep growing.

Last year, my husband and I were heavily courted by North Dakota to relocate our business to where high-speed broadband service was guaranteed. We wanted to stay in our town, but also knew that without high-speed internet service, our company would not survive.

Not long after, our community received the attention of a local phone company recognized the need to move forward installing fiber so that our businesses and residents can prosper here.

If we had not received the commitment for higher broadband speed, we would not have achieved our dream goals.

I thought folks might be interesting in offering their ideas and I’d love for the IMLS to hear from plenty of rural areas. There’s a webinar on May 20 to learn more about the opportunities (details below). I assume you don’t have to be from a library or museum to comment…

IMLS Press Contact 202-653-4799 Giuliana Bullard, gbullard@imls.gov

Help Your Community Reap the Advantages of Broadband Adoption and Digital Literacy

IMLS announces public request for comment and webinar on broadband barriers

Washington, DC—The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is encouraging library, archives, and museums to share their thoughts on how the federal government can expand and promote broadband adoption and digital inclusion. IMLS is one of 25 federal agencies comprising the President’s new interagency Broadband Opportunity Council charged with developing a framework of recommendations to support broadband access and adoption.

The council has issued a request for comment in the Federal Register for public input to get a better understanding of the challenges facing communities that lack adequate access to broadband. It aims to identify unnecessary regulatory and policy barriers, incentivize investment, and align funding policies to support broadband access and adoption.

A free webinar to explain the request for comment’s purpose and objectives will be held on May 20, 2015, from 4:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. EDT. Members of the public will be able to pose questions about the request for comment to the federal partners, including IMLS. Space for the webinar will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4277364480826458625 by May 13, 2015. Upon registration, webinar link and information will be distributed.

“Community anchor institutions, like libraries and museums, play a critical role in educating residents about the importance of being digitally literate so they can take advantage of the economic, educational, and social opportunities online. All public libraries in the United States offer free Internet access. The library is where people in underserved areas, in rural, tribal, or inner city communities, go to get online access and support and gest support and training from knowledgeable staff,” said Maura Marx, Acting IMLS Director. “IMLS is committed to advancing a national digital platform that delivers online content and services to all Americans over an essential broadband infrastructure.”

IMLS encourages libraries and museums to submit their comments by the submission deadline of June 10, 2015. Comments can be submitted by email to BOCrfc2015@ntia.doc.gov or by mail to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Room 4626, Attn: Broadband Opportunity Council, Washington, DC 20230.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

I know we put out word a few weeks ago that now was the time to act to get the House to put broadband back in their budget.

People acted. It made a difference!!

The House put broadband back in the budget, unfortunately they number is not what has been recommended, which is going to leave a lot of areas unserved.

It looks like it’s time again. Conference committees are starting. Decisions will be made. If you think broadband funding is important. I think now is another really good time to be a squeaky wheel!

The Minnesota High Tech Association is getting focused and reports that now is the time if you want to get focused too…

There are less than two weeks left in the 2015 Legislative Session, with the conference committee beginning to meet today on the Jobs and Economic Development Finance omnibus bill.

We need your help encouraging lawmakers to support additional funding for the Office of Broadband Development and the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program. Check out the information below, and contact key legislators to let them know you support these key funding priorities.

They set the stage…

The House and Senate Jobs committees recently funded the Office of Broadband Development and the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program. However, funding for the grant program in both bodies is at a fraction of the funding level recommended by the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband.

The Office of Broadband Development plays a critical role in helping develop Minnesota’s broadband infrastructure, with the goals of making Minnesota a top-five state in terms of broadband access and speed. To help meet these goals, the Office works with partners on mapping broadband availability in an effort to more effectively direct state investment. For more on the state speed goals, please see page 9 of the 2014 Annual Report.

Senator Schmit, a serious rural broadband advocate, is also timing his message for now in a recent letter in the Kenyon Reader

By now, we all know the facts: 20 percent of Minnesota homes lack wireline broadband at our modest state speed goal of 10 mbps download / 5 mbps upload. Nearly 40 percent of homes in Greater Minnesota miss the mark.

The speed goal represents a basic threshold by which Internet users can count their connections worthy for home-based business or teleworking, distance learning or telemedicine.

The speed goal is the result of Minnesota’s first broadband task force, which nearly a decade ago unanimously recommended that all Minnesotans have basic broadband access by 2015. Following a second active task force, nonprofit outreach, Internet service provider and cooperative engagement, countless community meetings and a groundswell of support across the state, we’ve made progress.

But at the rate we’re going, we’ll connect the final quarter of Minnesota households with high-speed Internet at a snail’s pace.

I wrote earlier about proposals at the Legislature to telecom policy. Brent Christensen from MTA has a detailed follow up in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on what proposed change will and won’t mean to Minnesota customers…

Landline service in Minnesota is secure under proposed legislation

For generations, Minnesota’s telecom companies have been providing reliable and affordable landline services, even in the most remote parts of the state. That’s a Minnesota staple that simply will not change, no matter what you might have read elsewhere.

Currently, there’s a simple, bipartisan bill being considered at the State Capitol that would create a path for incumbent landline telephone companies to be regulated like their competitors. Any service changes proposed by the telecom companies would be subject to review and approval by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. It would mean that the same rules apply to all commission-regulated landline providers.

Somehow, this has been misrepresented as a threat to landline service in Greater Minnesota (“Don’t deregulate landline service,” April 29). Simply put, it is not. The Public Utilities Commission will continue to have oversight on things such as rates, service quality and discontinuance of service, to name a few.

The state’s telecom companies range from well-known large-scale providers that serve large swaths of Minnesota to small, family-owned and cooperative providers that serve many towns in the state’s rural areas. Unlike a century ago, telecom is no longer a monopoly utility, which creates a need for this legislation — to bring some equity to the regulation these companies face.

CTC, based in central Minnesota, and Enventis, based in Mankato, are great examples of the challenge companies face. They are regulated one way in their traditional, incumbent serving areas, and in a different way in service areas where they compete against an incumbent provider. This bill would mean the state could regulate them the same way in all the areas.

Cellular services are very good throughout much of Minnesota, but there are areas where reception is spotty or unavailable. This underscores the need for continued reliable landline service throughout the state, which will not change under the terms of this legislation. State and federal laws require telephone companies to serve all of the customers in their serving areas. Nothing in this bill could or would change that requirement. All consumer protections currently in place would stay in place.

The stories of massive rate hikes in other states stem not from deregulation but from the Federal Communications Commission’s 2011 Transformation Order, which forced telephone companies to raise their rates to a national “rate floor,” which is currently $20.65. Without getting overly detailed, there were some companies in selected states that had very low rates, and there had to be a proportional increase to get to the national “rate floor.”

Overall, the fear-mongering about losing landline service is misplaced, and a big deal is being made out of a relatively minor piece of legislation that has bipartisan support from urban and rural legislators. To ensure that Minnesota’s generations-old practice of providing reliable phone service to even the most remote parts of the state continues, our telecom companies need to be able to survive and thrive in this new, more-competitive world.

The legislation is a modest proposal to accomplish those goals. Currently, 36 other states, including Wisconsin and Iowa, have gone much further in leveling the regulatory landscapes for telephone companies, and the sky hasn’t fallen in those states. The overheated rhetoric on this issue is as unfortunate as it is misplaced.

 

Always glad to hear that Minnesota and Minnesota companies are leading the way…

Wireless LTE for Public Safety Pilot Project Developed in Minnesota to Establish State Model for Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network 

Key players in the wireless industry have partnered with government entities in the state of Minnesota in an attempt to encourage an innovative model involving private-public partnerships that establish a national public safety broadband system. This pilot project in Central Minnesota is a public-private collaboration between the State of Minnesota, Great River Energy (GRE), Motorola, NewCore Wireless, Central Transport Group, the City of Elk River, TESSCO and CommScope.

All private-sector partners participating in this project have donated equipment, tower space, technical services and carrier services at no cost to the government for this project.

Building upon their prior cooperation, the Minnesota-based group aims to provide the following:

  • Opportunities on how to evaluate public-private partnerships in a public safety broadband network deployment;
  • Execute a model MOA between the State and a private entity for network deployment in a way that will provide meaningful inputs into the state-FirstNet consultation process;
  • Allow public safety in a rural environment to experience the benefits of public safety LTE.

A trial site was deployed in the city of Elk River, a third-tier suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul. The site’s trial location was selected because it best allowed the project team to test and demonstrate data applications that may be more applicable to smaller, rural towns. Additionally, Elk River has inadequate commercial cellular coverage and, as such, broadband applications that could potentially be used over a public network cannot be deployed successfully in the city.

Drawing on their industry leadership and knowledge associated with delivering LTE wireless sites, the project team is set to showcase how FirstNet can bring forth technology that enables public safety personnel to access information that supports their responsibilities to make quicker, safer and better decisions for the public good.

In a unique situation compared to other states, Minnesota has a robust statewide public safety trunked radio network deployed that provides two-way voice services to most public safety personnel in the state. This system is a model of how one network serves different segments of the public safety community, from state patrol to volunteer firefighters. This pilot program expands upon the collaboration already in place within the state and seeks to extend the utilization of valuable resources to the private sector. The project team will demonstrate how to advance solutions in the most forward thinking and cost effective manner possible, using as many of the state’s current resources both in the public and private sector.

“The ability to access real-time data is a critical function for public safety first responders,” said T. John Cunningham, Elk River’s fire chief and director of emergency management.  “This network will provide the ideal platform for testing some of the latest technology and equipment that could enhance public and first responder safety.” The city is currently planning a future full-scale disaster response exercise using the high-speed network.

“This is a great opportunity to show how public and private sectors can work together for the common good of all interested parties.  We are excited about being a part of this pilot project,” said Kathy Nelson, Principal Telecommunications Engineer of Great River Energy.

NewCore Wireless is proud to be a part of this project,” said Albert Kangas, GM and COO of NewCore Wireless. “We share the overall commitment of the group to address national public safety challenges of the ever-evolving demands of today’s rapidly-changing network. NewCore Wireless has made great strides in providing our business partners, municipalities and businesses with better telecommunications services and technology. We look forward to working to continue this leadership and service.”

“TESSCO is excited to be a part of the Public Safety Broadband Network pilot project,” said Mark Wymer, VP of Business & Market Development.  “By leveraging our strong relationships with vendor partners, we were able to provide access to the critical hardware required to support the ever-important public safety network. We look forward to continuing our participation and providing on-going logistics expertise for delivery and deployment.”

In February 2012, Congress passed landmark legislation to create a nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN). To achieve this objective, the legislation established the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an independent authority within the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA). FirstNet holds a nationwide spectrum license for the NPSBN and is charged with building, deploying, and operating the NPSBN. FirstNet has been working with the public safety community, the wireless industry, and other key stakeholders to develop effective frameworks for providing interoperable broadband communications to first responders throughout the country.

FirstNet’s license is for the 700 MHz band, an important band of spectrum available for both commercial wireless and public safety communications. Often called “beachfront” spectrum, the 700 MHz Band gives it excellent propagation characteristics, allowing signals to penetrate buildings and walls easily and to cover larger geographic areas with fewer infrastructures. FirstNet is imperative for the next generation of nationwide public safety and disaster response communications. The pilot project in Central Minnesota establishes a collaborative working relationship with local, state and federal agencies, carriers and wireless leaders, all focused on the same goals.

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