Broadband Struggles in Greater Minnesota featured on Almanac

Last Friday TPT’s Almanac did a nice feature on rural broadband. It’s a nice piece on a range of issues. And it’s only a 5-minute video.

The spoke to some folks who have trouble running credit card, and therefore a business, because of slow connections. The spoke to folks at Frontier, Brent Christensen at MN Telecom Alliance and Gary Johnson at Paul Bunyan Telephone (Cooperative). So they really got a wide range of views from providers.

Monticello receives prestigious award for broadband leadership from Blandin Foundation

I suspect I’ll see a few more of the Blandin Broadband award announcements. I shared the live unveiling last week during the broadband conference but each of the winners has worked hard and I didn’t do individual posts about each one so I’ll post these local announcements as I see them. This one comes from the Monticello Times

 A state leader in broadband initiatives has recognized the City of Monticello for its support of FiberNet.

The Blandin Foundation recognized the City of Monticello with its Courageous Leadership Award. Monticello was recognized for its early recognition of the importance of telecommunications to its economic future and for its perseverance in deploying a fiber-optic network, FiberNet, that has transformed the city’s technology capabilities, Blandin officials stated.

The recgonition was made in Nisswa at the 15th annual Blandin Foundation broadband conference.

“Thanks to this municipally-owned fiber-to-the-home network, the City of Monticello has transitioned from a poorly connected community to one of the top connected communities in the nation,” said Bernadine Joselyn, director of public policy and engagement at Blandin Foundation.

“Monticello leaders never wavered in their belief that access to broadband is essential to everything from economic vitality to quality of life,” Joselyn said.

Monticello City Administrator Jeff O’Neill accepted the award on behalf of the City of Monticello.

“Vitality can’t be divided between urban and rural; all communities deserve the tools necessary to thrive in the modern world,” O’Neill said.


Lincoln County Board renews their membership in the MN Broadband Coalition

The Marshall Independent reports on a recent Lincoln County Board meeting…

In other business, the board agreed to renew Lincoln County’s membership in the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition. The group asked for $1,000 in funds, but agreed to allow member counties to remain part of the organization for any contribution of $500 or more.

Commissioner Joe Drietz said he favors keeping the county’s share at $500, with the possibility of giving more in future years if rural broadband proposals continue to move forward.

“The $500 is what we’ve been paying each year to get things started,” Drietz said. “We still haven’t gotten to the point of having an implementation phase.”

The Coalition is always looking for new members. They recently presented an update and plans for 2020 at the MN Broadband Conference. You can see the presentation in the video below:

New Video: From Crops to Co-ops: Small Towns Want Better Internet!

The Community Network folks from the Institute of Local Self Reliance have gone into animation…

In rural communities, large companies often won’t invest in high-quality Internet network infrastructure due to the lack of population density. Increasingly, rural electric and communications cooperatives are filling the void and providing the Internet access small towns and surrounding areas need. In order to illustrate the challenges facing these small rural towns, we’ve developed a series of videos titled, “From Crops to Co-ops: Small Towns Want Better Internet!”

The video certainly has a point of view – but I have to admit that I’ve had people email me with similar stories and complaints from communities without an invested provider.

Broadband access tough to get on farms according to the United Soybean Board

Progressive Farmer reports on the state of broadband on farms based on a survey of 2000 farmers by the United Soybean Board. I’ve compiled the statistics they report into bullet points:

  • 60 percent of farmers say they don’t have enough internet connectivity to run their businesses
  • 59 percent of farmers that participated in the study said they want to incorporate more data into their operations
  • 78 percent of farmers don’t have a choice in internet service providers
  • 40 percent of farmers have a fixed internet connection, while others rely on satellite connections.
  • More than 90 percent access the internet on their smartphones, which they say is the most reliable.

Why do they want broadband?

  • 37 percent wanted to increase their use of data to make better decisions
  • 19 percent want to use it to improve their efficiency
  • 10 percent cited cost savings

EVENT: NTIA’s BroadbandUSA Practical Broadband Conversations Free Webinar Oct 16

An invitation from NTIA…

You are invited to join NTIA’s BroadbandUSA Practical Broadband Conversations Webinar

Topic: Broadband’s Role in Revitalizing Main Street

Date:   Wednesday, October 16, 2019

   Time:  2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET

Overview: Broadband connectivity helps to ensure that local communities are vibrant and successful. In parts of the country that are not fully connected, some communities are creating partnerships with local businesses, health organizations, schools and art groups to solve these challenges. These innovative partnerships leverage existing assets to build new opportunities. Join NTIA’s BroadbandUSA to hear case studies of models that are working to successfully connect Main Street in underserved areas.


  • Michael W. Burns, Senior Advisor to the Regional Administrator, EPA Region 4/CUPP Program Manager
  • Mona El Khafif, Associate Professor UVA School of Architecture, RCN Co-Director MainStreet21
  • Fletcher Kittredge, CEO, GWI

Please pre-register for the webinar using this registration link.   After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Want to access past Practical Broadband Conversations webinars? Visit our webinar archives for past presentations, transcripts and audio recordings.

More info on Aitkin County’s $1.9 million in USDA funding for broadband

I reported on the award a few weeks ago, AgWeek provides more details…

In Aitkin County, USDA will provide a $1.95 million grant to Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative. The project will create a Fiber to the Premises Network to 235 establishments in parts of the county, including tribal land and facilities of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

The project seeks to help with business and economic development, as well as telehealth and educational improvements, USDA says.

A total of $152 million is being invested in 19 projects in 14 states, mostly in rural areas, according to information from USDA.

“Deploying high-speed broadband internet connectivity, or ‘e-Connectivity,’ in rural America expands access to essential health, educational, social and business opportunities,” USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald LaVoy said in a written statement.

A 2017 USDA report identified e-connectivity as a key to improving rural prosperity. To read the report:….