Ely reports on the 2017 MN Broadband conference

The Ely Timberjay reports on local leaders impression on the 2017 Fall Broadband Conference…

Harold Langowski, Economic Development Consultant John Fedo, and community leader Wende Nelson joined more than 150 broadband leaders from across rural Minnesota last month to compare approaches to expanding access to, and use of, high-speed Internet.

The Border to Border Broadband: Bridging the Gaps – Expanding the Impact conference, co-hosted by Blandin Foundation and the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development, highlighted the many ways broadband is creating new opportunities for rural communities.

“Ely has a lot to be proud of,” said Dr. Kathleen Annette, president and CEO of Blandin Foundation. “Local leaders are creating a broadband-enhanced future themselves when others wouldn’t do it for them. Their vision will propel the community forward.”

Research unveiled at the conference found that St. Louis County could see more than $57.3 million in economic benefits over 15 years if broadband access and use improved.  Tech expert Robert Gallardo, assistant director at the Purdue Center for Regional Development, produced profiles of all Minnesota counties using his Digital Divide Index.  St. Louis County placed first as compared to Minnesota’s 86 other counties in potential benefits.

Humphrey School recognizes innovative local government broadband projects

The University of Minnesota reports…

Across the state of Minnesota, local governments are finding creative ways to deliver services to their residents with greater impact and at lower cost. Examples include expanding broadband access in rural Minnesota communities, improving educational outcomes for American Indian students, and enhancing emergency response to people with mental health issues.

Those projects and nearly two dozen others are being recognized by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, as recipients of its 11th annual Local Government Innovation Awards (LGIA).

Sunrise Township was recognized for their work getting better broadband through CenturyLink and a State Border to Border Broadband grant…

Township Category: Sunrise Township—Broadband Initiative
Sunrise Township in Chisago County spearheaded an extensive effort consisting of community meetings, required notices, and securing approval from 50 percent of property owners, to bring broadband infrastructure to its residents. A collaborative effort between residents and the township board led to creation of a Subordinate Service District (SSD) to help facilitate the installation and financing of high-speed internet through Century Link. The township received a grant and began acquiring a bond, while Century Link assists with funding and works to install fiber optics to SDD area residents by December 2018.

Traverse County also got a nice nod for their work on a wireless project at the county level.

Broadband gaps everywhere – but especially in Central time zone and Republican districts

The Brookings Institute recently outlined the need to improve broadband availability and adoption across the US. They note that while availability is an issue, adoption is an even greater issue and that every member of Congress represents at least some area that needs help with both.

Republican areas are in greater need of availability …

Broadband is widely available across the country, but Republican members of Congress disproportionally represent populations without physical access to high-speed internet. Overall, Republican House members serve districts where 89.4 percent of residents can physically access a wireline broadband connection. The gap equates to nearly 18.6 million people who physically cannot access broadband in their home. By comparison, Democratic House members represent districts with 97.5 percent coverage, leaving a much smaller gap of 3.5 million people.

Central time zone is in greater need…

Availability gaps are especially pronounced in the Central time zone. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (OK-2) represents the only district in the country where broadband is available to less than half the population. There are five other districts where broadband is available to between 50 and 60 percent of their population, all of which are along this central spine (AL-1, MO-8, LA-5, AR-4, MS-3). While Republicans represent most of the low-availability districts, Democratic-represented districts like AZ-1, MS-2, MN-7, and MN-8 also fall into the bottom quintile of availability, each housing over 150,000 people who cannot connect to broadband in their home.

Republican areas are in greater need of adoption…

Republican legislators represent the bulk of these low-subscribing neighborhoods, which house over 51 million people. Many of the largest gaps are the same districts with limited broadband availability. Yet in others, like Rep. Thomas Rooney’s (FL-17) district in south-central Florida and Rep. Doug Collins’ (GA-9) district in north-central Georgia, broadband is widely available but subscribership is low.

Democratic legislators represent over 22 million people who live in low-subscription neighborhoods. In the districts with the biggest subscription gaps, more often than not broadband is widely available. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard’s (CA-40) district in east Los Angeles has 100 percent availability, but nearly half-a-million people live in low subscription neighborhoods. Similar subscription challenges in districts with high availability include TX-34, TX-33, and NM-1.

Better broadband expansion could mean economic boost in Nobles County

The Worthington Globe reports on information provided at the 2017 Fall Broadband Conference…

Nobles County could see more than $7.6 million in economic benefits over 15 years if just 20 percent of unserved households gain access to broadband service, according to a recent study.

Every unserved home in Nobles County is located in a rural area or rural town. Roberto Gallardo, assistant director at the Purdue University Center for Regional Development and author of the study, says rural communities can emerge in the growing digital economy — where people can work online from anywhere — with access to broadband, provided they take advantage of the high speeds that give them a competitive boost.

Gallardo created “digital divide” profiles for all 86 counties in Minnesota to show the divide in broadband service and socioeconomic conditions between rural and urban areas.

The study reports Nobles County had an index score of 42.09, similar to that of most Greater Minnesota counties. The divide, in this case, is mostly between Worthington and the rest of the county, as the city has widespread access to broadband speeds.

The study reports that 26.9 percent of Nobles County residents do not have access to fixed broadband of at least 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload.

That’s where the Lismore Cooperative Telephone broadband project, funded in part by the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development and Nobles County, will change things — by providing broadband wireless speeds to nearly every home in the county and lightning-fast fiber to hundreds of rural homes and every home in Wilmont and Leota.

In southwest Minnesota, Cottonwood County had the largest divide at 51.86 — 39.4 percent of the county is without broadband service. Murray County had the highest unserved population at 48 percent and would gain more than $6.7 million in economic benefits if that number was cut down.

Itasca County view of the MN Broadband Conference

The Grand Rapids Herald Review reports…

Itasca Economic Development Corporation’s Teri Heikkila joined more than 150 broadband leaders from across rural Minnesota last month to compare approaches to expanding access to, and use of, high-speed Internet. The Border to Border Broadband: Bridging the Gaps – Expanding the Impact conference, co-hosted by Blandin Foundation and the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development, highlighted the many ways broadband is creating new opportunities for rural communities.

Research unveiled at the conference found that Itasca County could see more than $18 million in economic benefits over 15 years if broadband access and use improved. Tech expert Robert Gallardo, assistant director at the Purdue Center for Regional Development, produced profiles of all Minnesota counties using his Digital Divide Index. Itasca County placed 19th as compared to Minnesota’s 86 other counties in potential benefits.

As leaders in rural broadband work, Heikkila and Itasca County were central to the conference sharing and learning. A past Blandin Broadband Community, Itasca County leaders have invested in projects such as one-on-one technology assessments and training for local businesses, monthly social media breakfasts, and an IT networking group.

E-rate & Homework Gap Webinar Nov 17

Lots of good webinars this week. Today’s comes from the SHLB Coalition…

E-rate & Homework Gap Webinar
November 17, 2017
11 am – 12 pm ET
Register Here

Some schools and libraries have made innovative choices to close the homework gap, such as deploying wireless services on school buses and to residential users off-campus. Join our panel as they discuss how E-rate can also be a tool to close the homework gap and how to make the most of this funding.

Moderator: Susan Bearden
Bearden Education Technology Consulting, LLC (Former Senior Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education)

Andrew Moore, CIO at Boulder Valley School District
As Chief Information Officer, Mr. Moore is responsible for both traditional Instructional Technology services  and Educational Technology in the classroom.

John Harrington, CEO, Funds for Learning
John Harrington is CEO at Funds for Learning, a leading firm based in Oklahoma City that specializes in helping schools and libraries across the country receive federal funds for infrastructure and Internet access.

 

Senators Franken, Klobuchar and others ask the FCC to reconsider broadband changes

A team of senators including both Senator Klobuchar and Senator Franken have sent a letter to the FCC asking them to consider the impact of proposed broadband policy changes…

Dear Chairman Pai:

We encourage the Federal Communications Commission’s efforts to accelerate the deployment of advanced networks to all Americans. However, we have concerns that the Commission will vote on an item this week that could harm consumers. It is critical that we work to enhance networks across the country, we protect existing service for consumers during and after the technology transitions.

As currently drafted, the Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure and Investment Report and Order lessens notifications to consumers about changes to their landline service (virtually eliminating advance notice of copper retirement to retail customers), eliminates the “de facto” retirement rule, and changes the definition of “service” to reduce access to critical communications for consumers in an attempt to lessen regulatory barriers on phone service providers. These changes cause serious concern for rural Americans including the elderly, low-income, and consumers living with disabilities who reply on landline phone service.

As you know, millions of people and businesses, not to mention critical US government operations, across the nation rely on legacy landline phone service. Individuals in rural America, particularly those living where cell phone service is poor, utilize these landlines to conduct business, reach emergency responders, and stay in touch with loved ones. Households and businesses in our states, and across the country, cannot afford the disruption of having service altered without adequate advance notice, the assurance that an equivalent replacement exists and a clear understanding of how to obtain and use the replacement.

Furthermore, this order would affect more than landline phone service. Alarm systems, fax machines, and medical monitoring devices frequently depend on access to landline services. DSL broadband service also relies on landline phone service. If phone lines are not maintained, all of these services could be put in jeopardy. We need a reliable service standard in place to ensure that services people depend on will continue to work, and that rural Americans will not be left behind during this technology upgrade, furthering the digital divide.

Signed by:

  • Margaret Wood Hassan
  • Charles Schumer
  • Jeanne Shaheen
  • Catherine Cortez Masto
  • Al Franken
  • Tammy Duckworth
  • Kirsten Gillibrand
  • Elizabeth Warren
  • Tammy Baldwin
  • Richard Durbin
  • Sherrod Brown
  • Gary Peters
  • Bernard Sanders
  • Amy Klobuchar