EVENT June 30: NTIA’s Middle Mile Application Information Webinar

From NTIA…

Title: Internet for All Webinar Series – Applicant Portion of the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program Application

Date: Thursday, June 30, 2022

Time: 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM ET
Description: This webinar will provide an in-depth look at how eligible entities can access the NTIA Grants Portal and apply for the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program. This webinar will also provide applicants with technical assistance and prepare them to write high-quality applications. With $1 billion in funding, the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program provides funding for this vital part of our nation’s high-speed network and will reduce the cost of bringing high-speed internet to unserved and underserved communities.

Register Now

Register for more of our upcoming Internet For All webinar series sessions:

 

Please note: all webinars will occur from 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM ET. All presentations and recordings will be available on the BroadbandUSA website under the Past Events tab approximately 24 to 48 hours after a webinar ends. 

For any questions about our Internet For All Webinar Series, please email InternetForAll@ntia.gov.

The skinny on Fixed Wireless vs Fiber

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society have published a report on Fixed Wireless Technologies and Their Suitability for Broadband Delivery.  The full report is detailed and will be a great asset to folks in the policy and planning trenches making decisions about what to choose where and when. For the rest of us, there are helpful charts that give us a understandable look at key characteristics (such as cost)…

And the executive summary also helps put things into perspective for folks who need to understand it but not deploy it…

  • Fixed-wireless technologies will continue to improve but will not match the performance of fiber-optic networks—primarily because the existing and potential bandwidth of fiber is thousands of times higher than wireless. Also, fixed-wireless networks have inherent capacity limitations that sharply limit the number of users on a network using a given amount of spectrum.

  • Fixed-wireless network coverage is adversely affected by line-of-sight obstructions (including buildings and seasonal foliage) and weather. While a fiber network can physically connect every household in a service area (and deliver predictable performance), it is significantly more complex for a fixed-wireless network to deliver a line of sight to every household in a service area.

  • Scalability is a critical challenge to fixed-wireless deployments, both technically and financially. A given amount of wireless spectrum is capable of supporting a given amount of network capacity. If the number of network users increases or users need more bandwidth, the network operator must increase the spectrum (which is both scarce and extremely expensive—and may not be possible), upgrade the technology, or add antennas. It is challenging to design a fixed wireless network that will provide sufficient, robust upstream and downstream capacity and reach all the addresses in unserved areas.

  • The fastest fixed-wireless technologies (such as those that use millimeter-wave spectrum) are effective in delivering short-range service to closely grouped households in urban and suburban settings. These technologies are largely unsuitable for serving rural communities because of the typical geographic dispersion of addresses and the lack of mounting structures (such as towers or building rooftops).

  • Fiber is sustainable, scalable, and renewable. It offers greater capacity, predictable performance, lower maintenance costs, and a longer technological lifetime than fixed-wireless technologies. Fiber service is not degraded by line-of-sight issues and is not affected by the capacity issues that constrain fixed wireless networks.

OPPORTUNITY: Broadband funding for Iron Range in MN

IRRR announces broadband (and other) grants available to the area they service in Northeastern Minnesota…

Broadband Infrastructure

Broadband Infrastructure grants assist projects that help households and businesses reach the State of Minnesota broadband Speed Goal.

Whitney Ridlon, 218-735-3004, Whitney.Ridlon@state.mn.us

Eligible applicants: Cities, townships, nonprofits, tribal governments and governmental entities created pursuant to Minnesota Statutes located within the agency’s service area. Multi-organization collaboration is encouraged.

FY23 Broadband Infrastructure grant guidelines

Grant Application Portal and Forms

FY20 – FY21 Broadband Infrastructure grant program evaluation

Libraries to partner with FCC to share info on broadband funding

The FCC reports

Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and Crosby Kemper, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, today announced a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly promote public awareness of federal funding opportunities for broadband.  The partnership will work to generate efforts to promote the availability of affordable broadband programs, in light of the significant role that libraries and other community anchor institutions play in promoting digital access and inclusion.

“Libraries are some of our most trusted institutions—and rightfully so. They serve as community hubs connecting library patrons to a host of services, including providing internet access that many may lack at home.  The FCC has long enjoyed working side by side with them to support digital access opportunities, which is why I’m excited about this expanded partnership to raise awareness of broadband funding programs,” said Chairwoman Rosenworcel.  “Internet access is essential for modern life. We need to make sure everyone, everywhere, has a chance to connect.  This new partnership with help us do that. Working with IMLS to spread the word about these important programs, will help meet the connectivity needs of communities across the country.”

“The FCC’s E-Rate program, its Emergency Connectivity Fund, and so many other initiatives have benefited libraries and their communities, particularly the most underserved and under resourced, that it has always been needful for IMLS to work closely with FCC staff and Commissioners,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “We are honored to work with Chairwoman Rosenworcel to make sure the generous funding provided by Congress and the administration, as well as targeted universal service support, reaches many, even most, of those who historically have been unable even to apply for the funds available to them.”

Wall St Journal looks at LTD-RDOF broadband situation

The Wall Street Journal is covering the LTD-RDOF issue…

The top dollar winner was LTD Broadband LLC of Las Vegas, which won rights to $1.3 billion to extend fiber-optic cable to rural communities scattered over 15 states, in some cases beating out local competitors.

LTD has since missed deadlines to be certified by local regulators in six of the 15 states, prompting the FCC to block the company’s access to the broadband funds there. At least 275,000 people live in affected areas of those states, census and FCC data show.

LTD asked the FCC for more time to be certified, but the agency denied that request. LTD is appealing the FCC’s decision in four of the six states.

In nine other states, FCC officials are still reviewing LTD’s ability to do the job, even though the agency has authorized more than 300 other bidders to move forward.

Corey Hauer, LTD’s chief executive officer, blamed the missed deadlines on bad advice and actions by an outside lawyer. He said LTD has begun building fiber networks even without the federal funds and expressed optimism that officials will reconsider.

Some commentary on why the auction was held as it was…

FCC officials said they designed the auction to maximize upfront participation.

“You want an open process so that new entrants can come in and compete,” said FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, who was part of the Republican FCC majority that enacted rules for the auction.

Mr. Carr and Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC’s new Democratic chairwoman, both said they would support reviewing the front-end requirements for future broadband programs.

LTD is now undergoing post-auction vetting, a process Ms. Rosenworcel said is used to “weed out nonqualified bidders.”

The next round of federal broadband funds will be managed not by the FCC, but by states and the U.S. Commerce Department, who are jointly empowered to choose projects that will receive $42.5 billion for broadband deployment program in last year’s infrastructure bill.

The problem is that post-auction vetting is like your brother calling “ever dibs” on the last piece of cake in the fridge; if he isn’t going to eat, the cake will just spoil. LTD was by definition the only bidder allowed to submit long form proposals in many areas. That leaves those communities hostage and in the end, if LTD can’t meet the requirements, the money will be lost to the state.

Howard Lake (MN) gets Hometown Grant award from T-Mobile (Wright County)

T-Mobile reports

In April 2021, T-Mobile (NASDAQ: TMUS) announced T-Mobile Hometown Grants, a $25 million, five-year initiative to support the people and organizations that help small towns across America thrive and grow. Since the program’s start, T-Mobile has given more than $4.4 million dollars to kickstart 100 community development projects across 36 states, including the latest grant winning recipients.

The list includes Howard Lake…

Howard Lake, Minn.: Construct a community library facility to provide vital connectivity resources such as public-use computers and Wi-Fi, tele-commuter conference room and a soft interview space for the local police department.

OPPORTUNITY: GIS Intern at Muninetworks (ILSR)

An opportunity with the Institute for Local Self Reliance

ILSR is looking to hire a Geographic Information Systems Intern. This person will work with our GIS and Data Visualization Researcher, as well as the rest of the Community Broadband Networks team, on original research projects that advance the mission of the initiative. The GIS intern can expect to receive hands-on experience using R, QGIS or ArcGIS Pro, Tableau, and Excel.

The internship is available to undergraduate students, graduate students, and other interested individuals who can commit to 20 – 40 hours per week. Pay is $16 per hour. This is a fully remote position unless the successful candidate lives near one of our offices and is interested in an in-person work setting.

OPPORTUNITY: Digital Communications Manager job at Muninetworks (ILSR)

An opportunity with the Institute for Local Self Reliance…

ILSR is hiring a Digital Communications Manager, who will work closely with the Communications Director to develop and implement communication strategies that support the mission of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

In this role, you will work across several different initiatives to write, edit, and design creative public messaging to promote ILSR’s work through the organization’s newsletters, website, social media, events, and more. Download the full description here, or see this job posting at ilsr.org.

OPPORTUNITY: Crow Wing County RFP for Broadband Service

The Brainerd Dispatch reports

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS HIGH SPEED INTERNET/BROADBAND SERVICES The Board of Commissioners of Crow Wing County, Minnesota, will receive proposals from all interested providers of High-Speed Internet/Broadband services for affordable, reliable high-speed Internet access for residential, business, and government constituents within Crow Wing County. The specification packet is available through the Crow Wing County Administrator’s Office, Historic Courthouse, 326 Laurel St, Ste 13, Brainerd, MN 56401, telephone 218-824-1067, e-mail coadmin@crowwing.us. Proposals shall be received by the Crow Wing County Administrator no later than 5:00 PM on July 22, 2022. Crow Wing County reserves the right to waive any irregularities and to reject any or all proposals or award upon such basis as they may deem to be in the County’s best interest. /s/ TIMOTHY J. HOULE, COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR CROW WING COUNTY, MINNESOTA Dated at Brainerd, Minnesota, this 17th day of June 2022.

Dates for future MN Broadband Task Force monthly meetings

The news is brief but valuable if you like to attend…

2022 Upcoming Meetings

Meetings are virtual. Instructions for joining will be at the top of the agenda documents.

  • July 13
  • August 29
  • September 29
  • October 24
  • November 17
  • December 5
  • December 19

The Intelligent Community Forum Names the Global Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2022

From the Intelligent Community Forum…

In an announcement today at the conclusion of a hybrid live and online conference, the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) named the Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2022. The 20th annual Top7 list includes cities and counties from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Taiwan and Vietnam. One of these seven finalists in the think tank’s annual awards program will be named the Intelligent Community of the Year at the ICF Summit in October. (www.icfsummit.com)
In alphabetical order, the Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2021 are:

  • Binh Duong Smart City, Vietnam
  • Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil
  • Regional Municipality of Durham, Ontario, Canada
  • Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
  • New Taipei City, Taiwan
  • Prospect, South Australia, Australia
  • Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Five of this year’s Top7 Intelligent Communities have appeared on the Top7 list in previous years: Binh Duong Smart City and Curitiba in 2021, Fredericton in 2008 and 2009, New Taipei City from 2014 to 2016 and Sunshine Coast in 2019 and 2020. The Regional Municipality of Durham and Prospect are making their first appearance as Top7 Communities.
The announcement was made at the conclusion of a day-long hybrid live and online conference with the theme of How Digital Innovation Drives Growth. It featured panel discussions and presentations from mayors, CIOs, futurists, researchers, and other experts in the Intelligent Community field.

https://youtu.be/iq9aErdBYEg

Murray County approves $500,000 ARPA for broadband and plans to apply for MN Border to Border funds

The Globe reports

The Murray County Board of Commissioners convened a special session earlier this week to discuss funding options for broadband in Murray County and American Rescue Plan expenditures.

Based on a 2018 feasibility study, estimates are it would cost more than $21 million to get broadband installed across Murray County, a task that was ruled unfeasible without a private partnership, multiple rounds of grants, or both. The same study found that, were broadband available, roughly 2,690 customers would take advantage of the service.

They made some decisions…

Murray County currently has $500,000 set aside in ARPA funds that can be used. Other grants in the 30% to 40% matching range were also discussed, with the acknowledgment that most would require approval. Most grants are going to require a financial commitment from a local government.

The Board resolved to apply for the Border-to-Border grant while using $500,000 in ARPA funds as the county’s investment requirement, and see how much area they could cover with those funds. Meanwhile, they said they would address the matter further at a June 21 meeting, should more funding be needed. The board also suggested looking into partnering with internet service providers such as Woodstock Communications and Lismore Telecom for a joint grant project.

Commissioner Lori Gunnick noted that without broadband, Murray County was likely to continue to see a population decline.

NTIA Publishes FAQs for its New Grant Programs

From the NTIA…

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) recently published Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, the Digital Equity Act Programs, and the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program. These documents offer a deeper dive into some of the most common questions we received from prospective applicants about program deadlines, eligibility, funding uses, application submission requirements, and more.

Individual FAQ documents:

The program FAQ documents will be updated periodically during the open application windows. If you have any questions throughout the application process, we encourage you to email the appropriate NTIA inbox below:

Vast Broadband is now called Bluepeak

Just a name change to announce from Bluepeak, the provider formerly known as Vast Broadband…

Vast Broadband recently changed its name to Bluepeak. The internet service provider in South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota made the change as part of a rebranding process involving a service expansion.

Bluepeak is the fourth name the company has had in the past 10 years. It was known as Knology before the company’s acquisition by WOW! (WideOpenWest, Inc.) in 2012 and again in 2014 when it was acquired by Vast.

Changing the name to Bluepeak does not reflect an acquisition this time around, but rather the company’s desire to rebrand as they expand in Sioux Falls as well in other states like Wyoming, North Dakota and Oklahoma.

RESOURCE: Accelerate: A Community Broadband Planning Program

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society shares…

This week, the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society released a new guidebook for communities that want to create their own broadband vision and goals and pursue the best possible broadband solutions for their area.

Accelerate: A Community Broadband Planning Program a collaboration of the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society and Blandin Foundation. Blandin originally designed the Accelerate Program for Minnesota, creating many of the tools shared in this guidebook. The Benton Institute is implementing the Accelerate Program in Illinois and other states with the support of Heartland Forward and its Connecting the Heartland initiative.

Guidebook author Bill Coleman provides an intro to the publication at https://www.benton.org/blog/helping-communities-prepare-broadband-opportunity

Find the new publication at https://www.benton.org/publications/Accelerate