According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Minneapolis cable TV viewers are a step closer to having an alternative to Comcast.

A city council panel voted Monday to negotiate an agreement with CenturyLink, which wants to offer cable service to parts of the city.

But some Minneapolis officials are wary of the proposal. City Council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden is worried CenturyLink will pass over poor neighborhoods. And she complains the company hasn’t provided enough information to allay those concerns.

It looks like serving the entire city may not be CenturyLink’s plan…

CenturyLink argues it isn’t bound by a state law requiring it to serve the entire city within five years. Comcast disputes that. CenturyLink has agreed to cover Minneapolis’ legal costs if it gets sued over the issue.

It demonstrates the blurred lines between telecommunications and cable. It also demonstrates that cable isn’t expected to go away soon – despite the Netflix, Hulus and YouTube programming out there.

 

Posted by: Ann Treacy | March 17, 2015

Lake County Broadband 2014 Update: ARRA funding helps

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

  • Household Density: 1.6
  • Number of Households: 4,825
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 77.30%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 77.32%

Lake County received funding from the ARRA to improve access in their area. There were a number of bumps in the road for the projects but they are starting to enjoy their fruits of their labor with a growing number of people enjoying access to fiber.

Lake County has been a BBC community beginning from the last cohort. They worked on a number of different broadband adoption programs – their intergenerational program, connecting seniors with seniors to spread digital inclusion skills has received a lot of positive attention.

You can get a fun look at a video made a few years ago from the folks in Lake and Cook counties on their plans for broadband:

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…

Aaron Brown is a writer, teacher and radio guy from the Iron Range. (I had the great fortune to see him and the rest of the Great Northern Radio Show last week when they toured to the Twin Cities). Arron has written about broadband in the past and I’ve highlighted his work here – he is the voice on the frontlines!

Over the weekend he aired a great story on The Little Town with Blazingly Fast Internet. It’s the story of Quitman, Mississippi – Arron does a great compare and contrast story…

But two things about Quitman, located in Clarke County in east central Mississippi on the Alabama border, reminded me of our Northern Minnesota counties: aging demographics and crippling job losses from a single industry just a generation ago — in their case, textiles; in ours mining and logging. It’s the age-old challenge: how do you pass the torch from a large older population used to one way of doing things, to a younger one that needs new tools to succeed.

Eddie Fulton, first elected in 2008, was the first mayor of Quitman to ever use a computer. Having retired from a career as marketing manager for Sears Roebuck, Fulton immediately recognized the economic importance of high speed internet once he started working with local businesses trying to expand.

Quitman worked with C-Spire to get Gig access to his town – but Arron points out that there are several ways to get access…

Quitman is an example of how broadband expansion can be led by the private sector. Google Fiber’s expansion to medium and larger cities is another example. Still other popular broadband projects have been led by cities and states. Chattanooga, Tennessee, for instance — under its former mayor and current Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker— scored huge economic growth with a high speed municipal broadband effort. Another approach combines public investment in infrastructure with private internet service delivery. That’s the model folks in Itasca County, Minnesota, are pursuing as part of their Connect Itasca initiative. One thing Fulton noticed, however, is that once C-Spire launched its gigabyte service to Quitman, the local cable company and AT&T both quickly responded by adding their own infrastructure.

It’s an inspiring story – one that should spark even greater interest in working for better broadband in Minnesota. Because the one thing about broadband is tears down barriers for competition as well as improving access to education and health care. That means the Iron Range is competing with Quitman – but right not they have better tools.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Ann Treacy | March 16, 2015

Gigabit Internet Service Comes to Hubbard County

It’s been fun to watch GigaZone sweep through Northern Minnesota. And of course this is good news for Hubbard County, which was at 76 percent broadband coverage in the last state survey

 

(Bemidji, MN) (March 16, 2015) – Gigabit Internet service has come to Hubbard County. Paul Bunyan Communications has upgraded the communications network it has constructed in the Park Rapids area the past three years making GigaZone services now available to over 2,700 locations. In addition, the cooperative has announced it will be expanding its network even further in the region this summer.

 

“The GigaZone provides Internet capabilities unsurpassed by any other rural provider or region in the country.  The GigaZone not only provides the capacity to handle current communication technologies quickly and efficiently, it also meets the increasing demands of the next generation of broadband innovations,” said Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General Manager.

 

“Our cooperative already has the region’s largest all fiber optic network, upgrading it for the GigaZone continues our commitment to keeping our region at the forefront of broadband access.” said Steve Howard, Paul Bunyan Communications IT & Development Manager.

 

GigaZone service options include unprecedented Broadband Internet speeds of up to 1000 Mbps – a Gigabit. Members who subscribe to GigaZone Broadband can also add PBTV Fusion and/or low cost unlimited local and long distance GigaZone voice service. All current service options also remain available to cooperative members within the GigaZone.

 

Most current wireless routers cannot support blazing GigaZone Internet speeds.  To help, the cooperative is offering GigaZone Integrated Wi-Fi that uses the latest in advanced Wi-Fi technologies to maximize the in-home wireless experience. This service is free to all new GigaZone customers for the first six months, with a minimal charge thereafter.

 

GigaZone services are expected to be made available in April in Lake George. Additional GigaZone upgrades in 2015 are also expected. Ultimately the GigaZone will encompass the cooperative’s entire 5,000 square mile service area.

 

In addition to the GigaZone activation, the cooperative has announced it will be expanding its network to over 1,000 more locations in the Park Rapids area with construction starting this summer. One expansion area will be north and west of Two Inlets including the area of Boot and Mud Lake, along with the southern part of Hart Lake and various locations in between. The other expansion region will be east of the city of Park Rapids covering an area south of Peysenke Lake and east of Long Lake stretching from south 5th Crow Wing Lake in the north to south of Duck and Round Lake to the south. This includes the following lake areas: Sunday, Little Stony, Big Stony, 4th Crow Wing, Island, 3rd Crow Wing, 2nd Crow Wing, Palmer, and most of 1st Crow Wing. Locations included in this year’s expansion will be mailed more information prior to construction reaching the area.

“Since 1998 our cooperative has been bringing high speed Internet services to those without it. As the technology has evolved we have continued to evolve with it. There are very few parts of the country like the Park Rapids area where Gigabit Internet services are available. It’s pretty amazing that places like Two Inlets and Emmaville have Gigabit Internet access before New York City or Washington D.C.,” added Bissonette.

Paul Bunyan Communications has the region’s largest and fastest all fiber optic network with over 5,000 square miles throughout most of Beltrami County and portions of Hubbard, Itasca, Koochiching, and St. Louis Counties. The Cooperative provides Broadband High Speed Internet Services, digital and high definition television services, Smart Home services, digital voice services, and more.

Posted by: Ann Treacy | March 16, 2015

Lac qui Parle County Broadband 2014 Update: FTTH!

lqpFor 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 Lac qui Parle (LqP) County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 1.6
  • Number of Households: 3,155
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 99.36%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 99.36%

LqP is in great shape. The LqP Economic Development Authority and local provider (Farmers Mutual) received ARRA funding in 2010 to deploy FTTH through most of the county. The unusual thing about LqP is that the FTTH project didn’t include the county seat – because they had some broadband and therefore didn’t qualify for ARRA funding so the more rural areas leap-frogged ahead of Madison for better broadband access.

LqP had also worked on broadband adoptions programs. They have been part of Blandin initiatives (MIRC and BBC) through regional efforts. They have received national attention for their tricked out Computer Commuter and have been noted in several article for a hot location for “brain gain” – meaning a rural area where educated folks in the 30s-40s move to raise families.

LqP is a County that is well served and is making the most of that connectivity, especially for economic development.

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…

koochichingFor 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 Koochiching County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 1.9
  • Number of Households: 5,874
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 74%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 74%

Given the population density of Koochiching, their coverage is pretty good compared to others in their shoes. Although I bet that’s a tough sell to 26 percent of the county that isn’t served.

They have some engaged providers in the area. The Northeast Service Coop received ARRA funding to build out middle mile fiber a couple of years ago within eight counties, including Koochiching. With middle mile in place, it makes it easier for a last mile provider to come in.

Koochiching is served (at least in part) by Paul Bunyan; they are extending their GigaZone. That seems like good news to Koochiching. We could see more coverage in the area through them.

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…

morrisonFor 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 Morrison County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 11.3
  • Number of Households: 13,080
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 38.32%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 38.44%

Morrison is not well served – but they are getting help. Morrison is part of CTC’s Minnesota Broadband Fund Virtual Highway Project

Consolidated Telephone Cooperative (CTC), Region 5 Virtual Highway Project. Awarded $2 million to bring high-speed Internet to 247 unserved and 90 underserved premises in Cass, Crow Wing and Morrison counties. This is a shovel-ready first phase in a regional broadband development effort. The full project cost is $4.22 million. The remaining $2.22 million (53 percent) in matching funds will be supplied by a private investment made by CTC.

Morrison, again through the Region 5 (aka Resilient Region) affiliation, is also a Blandin Broadband Community, which should help boost demand in broadband, which helps make the case for supply…

Region Five has been doing this for a number of years through their Resilient Region Plan, a development strategy that resulted from input by more than 600 Central Minnesotans. One of the Plan’s goals centers on using broadband technologies to improve bottom lines as well as quality of life.

“We are excited to be chosen to participate as a Blandin Broadband Community. Our “community” is the entire five-county region of Cass, Crow Wing, Todd, Morrison, and Wadena,” said Cheryal Hills, executive director of Region Five Development Corporation.

So things are happening – let’s just hope it’s enough to bring them up from 38 percent 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…

How does Minnesota define broadband?

The 2015 broadband goal for Minnesota is ubiquitous access to speeds of 10-20 Mbps (down) and 5-10 Mbps (up). These numbers actually reflect 6-10 Mbps up because Minnesota goals are a little out of sync with standard federal measurements. Connect MN measured access with and without mobile access as it is often considered a slightly different service, in part because of the data caps involved with wireless services. (Data caps can make wireless an expensive primary broadband connection – especially for a household.)

Learn how the other Minnesota counties rank.

How is Minnesota working to promote border to border broadband?

In 2014, the Legislature approved $20 million for broadband grants to support broadband expansion in Minnesota. You can find a list of applicants online. The hope is the broadband sector is that more funding will be made available in 2015.

Notes from yesterday’s webinar…

Wireless is complicated involving various technologies, geographic and topographic implications, legal considerations, pricing models, all wrapped in marketing jargon that is sure to confuse.

Join us for an informative webinar, aimed to give participants a more solid understanding about which wireless technologies will provide the broadband Internet your community wants and needs.

Learn:

  • The various parts of the radio spectrum are allocated and used.
  • How your community’s topography and tree cover impacts wireless performance.
  • About licensed and unlicensed frequencies and why that matters.
  • About how fiber makes wireless better

Speaker: Albert Kangas, General Manager & COO
As General Manager and Chief Operating Officer of NewCore Wireless, Albert is responsible for overseeing the business, technical and day-to-day operations of the company. Albert has 24+ years of experience in wireless communications and is considered one of the leading experts in wireless communications. Having worked on all aspects of engineering and operating a wireless network, his knowledge and understanding of rural wireless networks is unrivaled.
Albert is frequently asked to speak on topics of LTE, backhaul, DAS, network build outs, industry insights and more.
Previously, Albert served as Director of Network Engineering and Operations at St. Cloud Wireless Holdings. During this time, Albert guided the team through technology changes, network expansions, system integrations and finally transitions to Verizon and Sprint.

work signEarlier this week I was walking from my house (in St Paul) to my coffee shop (also in St Paul) and noticed a huge spool labelled Corning being unrolled. Score! And the folks unrolling the spool assured me that yes – fiber was coming!

Today I learned a little more about better broadband in my ‘hood. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, St Paul is upgrading their account with Comcast…

The city of St. Paul will pay Comcast more than $2 million to upgrade the data network connecting more than 100 public buildings to high-speed fiber optic cable.

Since 1998, St. Paul has received network service for free from Comcast as part of a larger agreement that allowed the company to provide cable TV to its residents.

But the network was too slow for transmitting surveillance video to the Police Department or providing decent Internet service to library patrons, said Tarek Tomes, the city’s chief information officer.

“We’re paying zero for a service that really doesn’t meet anyone’s needs,” he said.

Under the deal signed this week, the city also will pay Comcast more than $400,000 a year to provide network service over those connections.

That’s a nice upgrade for Comcast. The same article alludes to a project that had been in the works in Ramsey County a few years ago. Ramsey was going to hire someone to build a fiber network for/with them. The builders were going to build in enough strands of fiber to offer FTTH services to residents. I was pretty excited at that prospect – but it fell through.

I’m sorry that similar options don’t seem to be coming up with Comcast. I was just rereading notes from the February Minnesota Broadband Task Force. Several local government representatives spoke about how they work together with public and private partners to create a network that works for everyone – government, school, residents and businesses. Dakota County is a standout in terms of investing in infrastructure that saves money (they went from $700,000 to $15,000 bills by building their own) and they are now parlaying that into a way to entice better service for residents. Heck why can’t we be more like them?

The Minneapolis Star Tribune article also notes that the Mayor of St Paul (Chris Coleman) and a top lobbyist at Comcast (Emmett Coleman) are brothers. So you’d think that great uses of the network would come up at Sunday family dinners. As a Ramsey County resident, I’d love to see that relationship help St Paul come up with some innovative solutions.

Back at home, I’m still waiting to see who is stringing fiber. With any luck I’ll be getting a fiber option soon.

My frustration is minor compared to residents of rural areas. I have choices. Population density is high in my town; it means I can see into my neighbors’ windows but also a business case can be made to bring broadband to my neighborhood. Local government buildings, schools, libraries are  assets that a community has to offer to a provider. Innovative thinking (as seen in Dakota County) can help serve public and private needs. And I don’t necessarily mean a municipal network – but a partnership that extends beyond buyer-seller.

 

Posted by: Ann Treacy | March 12, 2015

2015 MTA Annual Convention & Trade Show March 23-25

I’m looking forward to the Annual MTA (Minnesota Telecom Alliance) conference. It’s always a great place to hear about what’s going on with the telecom industry.

When:  March 23-25, 2015

Where: Hyatt Regency Minneapolis
1300 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403

Here are some of the highlights

User Group/Networking Meetings

Monday, 1:00 – 2:45 p.m.

There are many emerging markets that a User Group would benefit. User Groups help everyone: The User, the Telco, the Associate Members, the MTA and the Industry.

Keynote: The Champion’s Code: Life Lessons of Ethics and Accountability from the Sports World to the Business World

Wednesday, 11:00 a.m. – Noon

The best-selling author of nearly 50 sports books, Ross Bernstein is an award-winning peak performance business speaker who has keynoted conferences on four continents and has been featured on CNN, ESPN, Fox News, and CBS This Morning, as well as in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today. Ross’ program is based on a series of books he wrote in which he was able to interview more than 500 professional athletes and coaches that all had one thing in common — they were all members of championship teams. In his research he concluded that the same metrics and characteristics that were common among champions in sports were also common in peak performers in business. As he learned, champions have a unique DNA — and his goal in this keynote session is to get audience members thinking about their own DNA — and about the differentiators they possess which would ultimately lead customers to choose to do business with them. At the core of his message is the simple fact that we like to do business with people who we trust, who we like, and who just “get it” — champions.

Issues Update Luncheon

Tuesday, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

“Federal Regulatory Issues Update” by Dusty Johnson, Director of Consulting, Vantage Point

This luncheon will provide an opportunity to get together to discuss issues and challenges and receive a federal regulatory update. $40 per person to attend (includes lunch).

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.)

Wikstrom Telephone, Kittson, Marshall, Roseau Broadband Extension. Awarded $425,000 to bring fiber-to-the-home service to 73 unserved and 43 underserved locations in Kittson (15 premises), Marshall (50 premises) and Roseau (51 premises) counties. The total project costs are $943,827; the remaining $518,827 (55 percent local match) will be provided by Wikstrom.

Community and Economic Development Impact: The project leverages Wikstrom’s nearly 1,200 mile middle-mile and distribution fiber facilities to serve the grant project areas. Among other improvements in community and economic development capacity, broadband connectivity in these remote areas of northwestern Minnesota will enable more effective teleworking, which creates more and new employment opportunities for households. It also opens up additional labor force capacity for employers regardless of location.

Both Kittson and Roseau received ARRA stimulus funds; Kittson through a project with Wikstrom and Roseau through a project with Sjoberg Cable. (Sjoberg has also received a MN Broadband Funding to expand broadband in Roseau.) It’s an area with very low household density (1-3). The broadband coverage is wanting – between 43-61 percent.

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

On broadband (Connect MN final stats from 2014):

  • Household Density: 1.8
  • Number of Households: 1,986
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 43.08%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 43.08%

Census quick facts (from 2013):

  • Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2009-2013:  $68,700
  • Per capita money income in past 12 months (2013 dollars), 2009-2013:  $26,927
  • Persons below poverty level, percent, 2009-2013:  9.8%
  • Private nonfarm establishments, 2012:  146
  • Private nonfarm employment, 2012:  1,166

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

On broadband (Connect MN final stats from 2014):

  • Household Density: 2.2
  • Number of Households: 3,981
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 61.41%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 61.41%

Census quick facts (from 2013):

  • Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2009-2013:  $88,100
  • Per capita money income in past 12 months (2013 dollars), 2009-2013:  $26,834
  • Persons below poverty level, percent, 2009-2013:  7.9%
  • Private nonfarm establishments, 2012:  261
  • Private nonfarm employment, 2012:  1,670

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

On broadband (Connect MN final stats from 2014):

  • Household Density: 3.7
  • Number of Households: 6,300
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 45.67%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 45.67%

Census quick facts (from 2013):

  • Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2009-2013:  $103,800
  • Per capita money income in past 12 months (2013 dollars), 2009-2013:  $25,650
  • Persons below poverty level, percent, 2009-2013:  9.7%
  • Private nonfarm establishments, 2012:  411
  • Private nonfarm employment, 2012:  7,142
Posted by: Ann Treacy | March 11, 2015

MN Broadband Fund Award: A closer look around Roseau 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.)

Sjoberg Cable, Broadband Grant Proposal. Awarded $261,575 to provide broadband services to 107 unserved and 49 underserved locations using fiber-to- the-premise technology, predominantly in extremely rural and agricultural areas. The project would build-out in five areas in Roseau County near Roseau, Warroad and Salol. The total project costs are $523,150; the remaining $261,575 (50 percent local match) will be provided by Sjoberg’s Inc.

Community and Economic Development Impact: The project will connect several pockets of businesses, homes and farms to fiber, leveraging a recent middle mile build-out that was part of the USDA Rural Utilities Service’s Broadband Initiatives Program. Access to high-speed broadband services will enhance the overall quality of life, spur economic development, and improve services delivered by critical community and public safety entities.

High-speed broadband is critical to major businesses in the area, such as Marvin Windows and Polaris Industries that have local world headquarters here along with a worldwide footprint. High-speed connections for small businesses located in the grant project area will enhance their ability to be subcontractors to these larger businesses.

Sjoberg Cable received $866,000 from ARRA stimulus funds in 2010 to deploy FTTP in Roseau, Thief River Falls, and the hamlet of Fox. Dick Sjoberg is on the Minnesota Broadband Task Force; so I get to hear about the that area regularly. He has done a good job representing rural providers at the Task force. It was a conversation between Dick and Travis Carter at US Internet that really punctuated the differences in wholesale broadband to each location…

Access (Gig) to the backbone in Minneapolis costs a provider 50 cents a month. In Red Wing it’s more like a dollar. In Thief River Falls, it’s $10,000-$20,000 a month. Clearly when wholesale costs vary so much, retail is a different game in remote areas.

The state broadband grant should help close that cost gap – at least for the deployment stage.

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

On broadband (Connect MN final stats from 2014):

  • Household Density: 3.7
  • Number of Households: 6,300
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 45.67%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 45.67%

Census quick facts (from 2013):

  • Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2009-2013:  $103,800
  • Per capita money income in past 12 months (2013 dollars), 2009-2013:  $25,650
  • Persons below poverty level, percent, 2009-2013:  9.7%
  • Private nonfarm establishments, 2012:  411
  • Private nonfarm employment, 2012:  7.142
Posted by: Ann Treacy | March 10, 2015

BCBP Mobile adds device functionality to county web portal

big stoneBig Stone Country received funding from the Blandin Foundation to provide mobile functionality to their GIS application. Their goal was to create a mobile application that was platform neutral, allowing users to connect to our GIS application, Pictometry and credit card payment integration.

Here is their story of development:

Application development started mid 2013 but due to some development challenges, did not become production ready until February 2014. We started by providing the three county offices mentioned above with iPads to use in the field. Each office initially received one tablet to use and test while in the field. The Assessor’s office found that it was so helpful, they soon requested a second iPad. The Environmental Officer said that he uses the iPad app frequently and considers it an invaluable tool.

Our GIS vendor developed mobile maps compatible with an existing ESRI mobile app. Because the parent mobile app is actually developed by ESRI software, we were not able to track how many time the mobile application was downloaded and used. What I did to best track usage was put a counter on the county web site. Each time a user opened instructions for using the mobile app, our site kept count. Approximately one year after public deployment we have had 372 users view the instructions for using the mobile app. That is the closest I came to easily measuring our success with this app. We do know that our Environmental office has assisted hunters from out of town access and download the app.

You can access the County GIS site to download the app or access a web-friendly version.

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.)

R-S Fiber Cooperative, FTTH Project. Awarded $1 million to bring fiber-to-the –home (FTTH) service to 62 unserved and 536 underserved locations in Sibley and Renville counties. Total project costs are $3.32 million; the remaining $2.32 million (70 percent local match) will be provided by a line of credit that R-S Fiber Telcom has committed and partner equity. This project is part of a larger cooperative project estimated at $38.46 million that will upgrade broadband services to several thousand locations in the region. Hiawatha Broadband Communications will provide operational capacity.

Community and Economic Development Impact: In 2013, Sibley County was added to the Metropolitan Statistical Area of the Twin Cities. Twin Cities metro regional economic development strategy indicates that access to high-speed fiber networks is a critical component that companies consider when deciding whether to relocate to an area.

The project’s affiliation with US Ignite will spur the development of incubator technology start-up businesses, bringing gigabit applications to life. US Ignite is a national consortium of 26 technology companies started through collaboration between the White House Office of Technology and the National Science Foundation. Because Hiawatha Broadband Communications is one of US Ignite’s initial 26 technology partners, the R-S Fiber project is eligible to be a US Ignite community.

When the network is operational, US Ignite will help member communities develop incubator technology start-up businesses whose mission will be to develop applications specifically for the R-S Fiber Cooperative network in the areas of education, health care, senior citizens and agricultural production. In addition, the project will have access to applications already developed through US Ignite partnerships.

I have followed the effort to get better broadband in Sibley and Renville counties for a few years. They are resilient and have persevered to get broadband through a lot of ups and downs. They have been working to get fiber to the area and have been steadfast in wanting to serve the entire area (meaning fiber to the farm in many instances) despite the fact that reaching everyone will cost more. They have been working with different counties and city government and have some played through sticky wicket situations where communities have opted in and out of the project.

The project had shifted directions and is now moving forward as a Cooperative. A lot of communities in the US are watching closely to see how this works. It’s an innovative (yet old school) way to services to a rural community. The partnerships with US Ignite will help fuel broadband adoption.

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

On broadband (Connect MN final stats from 2014):

  • Household Density: 6.6
  • Number of Households: 6,564
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 58.39%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 58.39%

Census quick facts (from 2013):

  • Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2009-2013:  $97,600
  • Per capita money income in past 12 months (2013 dollars), 2009-2013:  $26,062
  • Persons below poverty level, percent, 2009-2013:  11.6%
  • Private nonfarm establishments, 2012:  466
  • Private nonfarm employment, 2012:  4,385

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

On broadband (Connect MN final stats from 2014):

  • Household Density: 10
  • Number of Households: 6,034
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 70.29%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 89.39%

Census quick facts (from 2013):

  • Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2009-2013:  $136,900
  • Per capita money income in past 12 months (2013 dollars), 2009-2013:  $25,7789
  • Persons below poverty level, percent, 2009-2013:  11.8%
  • Private nonfarm establishments, 2012:  360
  • Private nonfarm employment, 2012:  1,072
Posted by: Ann Treacy | March 9, 2015

Digital Learning Day Live! March 13

From the  folks at Alliance for Excellent Education…

School leaders and teachers from four innovative school districts will join thousands of teachers in Washington, DC, for the fourth annual Digital Learning Day on Friday, March 13.

From 1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. (EDT) on March 13, the Alliance for Excellent Education will host Digital Learning Day Live!, a live broadcast from Teaching & Learning 2015. Digital Learning Day Live! will highlight some of the nation’s most promising digital learning initiatives and examine what it takes to integrate technology effectively, strategically, and meaningfully in schools.

Viewers will be also able to join the conversation via live chat and Twitter, and will have exclusive access to videos and other virtual Digital Learning Day events hosted by partners.

RSVP to watch Digital Learning Day Live!

Concurrently, tens of thousands of teachers, librarians, and administrators in all fifty states and the District of Columbia will celebrate and showcase their best uses of technology for learning through hundreds of local events in their own schools and classrooms.

If you’re planning a local Digital Learning Day event for your school district, school, or classroom, add it to the map of local events.

I looked at the map; there’s room for more Minnesota activities!

digital learning day

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 993 other followers

%d bloggers like this: