Average American Family Can Save $10,500 Per Year by Using Broadband for Comparison Shopping and Online-Only Deals

The Internet Innovation Alliance says a household can save $10,500 a year! 

The Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) finds that the average American household can save $10,539.09 per year on household spending through use of high-speed internet services, according to the organization’s latest Cost Campaign analysis. Before factoring in the average annual cost of a mobile data plan and a home broadband connection ($1,575), the yearly savings add up to $12,114.09. The financial analysis, “10 Ways Being Online Saves You Money,” was authored by Nicholas J. Delgado, certified financial planner and principal of Chicago-based investment bank Dignitas, in partnership with IIA

These numbers are always fun to have. I must admit when I looked at community ROI of public investment in broadband, I went with numbers that were much more conservative; we looked at an annual economic benefit of $1850 per household with broadband – because these numbers seem a little urban-focused.

I know the text won’t transfer well so I’ll post the picture (and table below) so you can get the content in the best way for you…

Top 10: Potential Internet-Enabled Savings on an Annual Basis Continue reading

Mediacom extends fiber to Fountain (Fillmore County) with MN State broadband grant

Bluff Country News reports…

Mediacom Communications announced it has built more than seven miles of fiber optic cable connecting the homes and businesses of Fountain to its Fillmore County broadband network.

By mid-December, Mediacom will activate the new portion of its network to deliver advanced telecommunication services, including robust one-gigabit-per-second internet speeds that are up to 40 times faster than the minimum broadband definition set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The project was made possible by a Border to Border Broadband Development Grant provided by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

Through this public/private partnership, DEED allocated funds to pay for up to 48-percent of the $400,000 network construction cost. Mediacom’s capital investment covered the remaining 52-percent of the project to create Fountain’s first facilities-based broadband network and makes gigabit internet speeds available to residents and businesses throughout the community.

Mediacom has been a longtime service provider in the Fillmore County communities of Canton, Chatfield, Lanesboro, Mabel, Peterson, Preston, Rushford and Spring Valley. With the addition of Fountain, 183 mid-sized and smaller communities throughout Minnesota are now connected to Mediacom’s fiber-rich broadband network.

 

Farm Bill includes $350 million for broadband

MPR reports

Broadband in rural areas also gets a boost in the 2018 farm bill, which sets aside $350 million dollars for loans and grants. The money is specifically targeted to rural communities that don’t have broadband, or have slow broadband service.

A recent report from the state Governor’s Task Force on Broadband shows that Minnesota is making progress, with about 90 percent of households able to access internet speeds of 25 megabits per second or higher.

Great news – but I think it’s time we start looking at how much in Minnesota has access to the 2026 speed goals of 100 Mbps down and 20 up. When you look at that speed the latest reports say 74 percent of Minnesota households have access to wireline 100/20.

USDA offering up to $600 million in loans and grants for broadband

The USDA announced some good news and bad news today. They are dedicated money to broadband…

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering up to $600 million in loans and grants to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America. Telecommunications companies, rural electric cooperatives and utilities, internet service providers and municipalities may apply for funding through USDA’s new ReConnect Program to connect rural areas that currently have insufficient broadband service. Answering the Administration’s call to action for rural prosperity, Congress appropriated funds in the fiscal year 2018 budget for this broadband pilot program. USDA Rural Development is the primary agency delivering the program, with assistance from other federal partners.

In the form of grants, loans and mashups…

USDA will make available approximately $200 million for grants (applications due to USDA by April 29), as well as $200 million for loan and grant combinations (applications due May 29), and $200 million for low-interest loans (applications due by June 28).

But they are funding areas with 10/1 access or worse and minimal requirement is an upgrade to 25/3…

Projects funded through this initiative must serve communities with fewer than 20,000 people with no broadband service or where service is slower than 10 megabits per second (mbps) download and 1 mbps upload.

Approved projects must create access speeds of at least 25 mbps upload and 3 mbps download. Priority will be awarded for projects that propose to deliver higher-capacity connections to rural homes, businesses and farms. USDA seeks to stretch these funds as far as possible by leveraging existing networks and systems without overbuilding existing services greater than 10/1 mbps.

Frustration with broadband providers in Orr, MN

The Timberjay posted an editorial of frustration written about the broadband providers’ lack of investment in last mile broadband. They note the state support middle mile technology but ask the state to take a closer look at what’s happening or not happening to get the homes and businesses connected…

There’s just one problem. We’ve forgotten to install the on and off ramps. The city of Orr, as we report again this week, has at least three separate fiber optic cables running right through town, but no one can get Internet. We report on the frustration of two local business owners in Vermilion Lake Township, who have fiber running right past their businesses, but who still must operate on Internet speeds that barely allow them to navigate the web— and that’s when their service is actually functioning.

The missing link in all this has been the corporately-owned service providers, companies like Frontier and CenturyLink, which have failed to uphold their role in the process. Bringing real and reliable broadband connectivity to rural Minnesota is, in theory, supposed to be a public-private partnership. The state or federal government provides the backbone of the system, while the local service providers like Frontier and CenturyLink are supposed to build the on and off ramps so local residents can begin to tap into that information superhighway that runs past their door.

While we’ve been critical of Frontier Communications in the past, the company has, at least, begun to make some upgrades to allow faster speeds in some parts of the region than have been available before. We’ll give credit where it’s due. It’s been a much more frustrating experience for customers of CenturyLink, such as those who live in Orr, given the company’s near-abandonment of parts of its service territory in northern Minnesota.

A partnership can only work when all the partners are willing to pull their weight. We certainly don’t want to discourage the Legislature from investing in bringing fiber to our region. The backbone is a critical part of the solution. But it has to be paired with strict and enforceable commitments by the local service providers to utilize that backbone to bring the level of service now possible to homes and businesses in our region. These service providers are regulated utilities and the Legislature needs to start addressing the lack of investment and follow-through that we’ve seen from some of them. If the Legislature can’t or won’t use enforcement mechanisms, they should explore incentives to encourage other providers to do the job. Ely is currently working with Brainerd-based CTC to facilitate fiber connections to downtown businesses. Orr is now turning to Back40 Wireless for a similar project, using a wifi signal. These are all hopeful developments which should be provided financial support where needed.

If CenturyLink or Frontier can’t do the job, the state should provide the resources needed to enable such organizations to expand the reach of their service.

Blue Earth County Board talks about expanding broadband

The Mankato Free Press reports

The Blue Earth County Board already has a New Year’s Resolution: kickstart efforts to bring more broadband options and data fiber connections to the area.

Commissioner Vance Stuehrenberg called on county officials Tuesday to lay the groundwork for a future public-private data fiber partnership as recent data show Blue Earth County is lagging in internet connectivity.

Stuehrenberg said during a board meeting Tuesday he was concerned only about 14 percent of the county was equipped to handle at least 100 mpbs download speeds and 20 mbps upload speeds. While almost all of Blue Earth County’s internet options meet the state’s immediate high-speed goals — at least 25 mbps downloads and 3 mbps uploads by 2022 — Stuehrenberg and other commissioners believe the county needs to have better internet access if it wants to continue growing and attracting more economic development.

“It’s kind of disheartening to hear that in Mankato and Blue Earth County, we don’t have the same ability to get internet service as some of those smaller communities,” Stuehrenberg said.

I applaud the forward-looking vision. They are brainstorming some ways to make it happen…

Stuehrenberg suggested future highway reconstruction projects include installing fiber to help offset connection costs in rural areas. Yet he and other commissioners said it will ultimately be up to area internet providers to use and maintain fiber networks.

The county finished installing fiber infrastructure around Mankato and nearby cities over the last two years, according to County Administrator Bob Meyer. He said county officials have been in preliminary talks with internet providers to expand broadband access throughout the county.

Eighth Circuit Denies Petition for Rehearing of Charter VoIP Decision

You may recall that in September, Minnesota PUC ruled in favor of Charter by limiting state regulation.

On December 4 (2018), the Eighth Circuit Court issued an order denying the Minnesota PUC’s petition for rehearing of the Court’s September 17, 2018 decision affirming the Minnesota district court’s ruling that Charter’s VoIP service is an information service under the Telecommunications Act.