Broadband down from Wed to Fri in St Paul MN – no TV, no Internet

Last week, my internet was down starting about 5:30 Wednesday afternoon until Friday noon. At first I thought I’ll give it a minute and just use my hotspot. I left, returned home and forgot about it until I realized the Internet was painfully slow. Couldn’t download email and look at a website at the same time slow. Then I remembered I was using the hotspot.

So first – anyone who thinks a family can thrive on a hotspot connection. Think again. My kids were on their smartphones using up our cell plan, not on the hotspot network. It was just me. I wasn’t uploading video. I was doing the tasks that most folks claim you can do with slow access – checking email and browsing the web albeit at the same time .So call another number. At 8:29 I reach the “Internet Repair” online chat on my phone.

At 8:43 they transfer me to the people who deal with account that bundle Internet and TV. At 9:10 they told me a technician would have to be dispatched to my house and they could be here on Friday between 11 and 3.

The person on the phone was nice enough. The technician who arrived before noon was nice enough. It took him 10 minutes to realize that the problem was leading into the house – not in the house. In other words, nothing I had done.

But in those days, kids had a hard time getting homework done. I had to leave to do work, my online volunteer work took longer and I had to wait until Friday to queue up my radio show. If I lived like this all of the time I would do less volunteer work and not be a radio host and kids’ grades could suffer. Doors close when you can’t get adequate access.

And the TV was gone. And while some might suggest my kids could play outside, they are teenagers. On a rainy afternoon I’d much rather have them cozied up on my couch than walking the neighborhood! People who roll their eyes at using broadband for Netflix have never had to entertain kids – from 2 to 20. It serves a purpose.

I think we need to recognize that broadband is a utility both in terms of transport but on a practical matter. Very hard to live without it. And providers need to be ready for demand and reliability. The connection wasn’t down because of a natural disaster – it just went down. And I have a choice of provider – but who wants to change provider regularly. I won’t say who mine is – but I will give a nod to Comcast; they called me to see if they could help because, well I tweet stuff. I tweeted I was down, again didn’t mention a provider, and they took the initiative to see if they could help. Sadly they aren’t my provider right now.

My week renews my passion to advocate for broadband to everyone! And I hope my story – encourages others to advocate. As a community, state or country, we can all be more productive with better broadband.

Ely is looking at broadband as economic development tool with Blandin Foundation’s help

The Timberjay reports…

The city of Ely is continuing its efforts to spur smarter use of technology for improved and successful economic development and ultimately an improved quality of life throughout the community.

Clerk-Treasurer Harold Langowski told the Ely Economic Development Authority Tuesday night that the goal of establishing a reliable broadband network in the Ely area remains at the top of the list for many in the community and more funding is available to help reach that goal.

Similar to a program funded and facilitated two years ago by the Blandin Foundation, Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and St. Louis County, Ely and five other communities in northern Minnesota will again share $50,000 in an effort to be more tech-savvy as better broadband is pursued and established throughout the Ely School District.

A Broadband Visioning Community Meeting will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 30, from 4-7 p.m. at Amici’s Events Center with the entire Ely community invited to join a coalition of local leaders to explore options and alternatives to improve broadband speed and availability. Representatives from the Blandin Foundation will again attend the meeting.

“Over the past two years we have enhanced Ely’s web presence, assisted businesses to be more tech-savvy, distributed refurbished computers to families and pursued better broadband throughout the area,” Langowski said. “If you have any project ideas or proposals, please bring them to this meeting,” Langowski said. “If Blandin approves them, they fund them, and small (community) groups carry the projects out. The last few projects went very well. This is a great program.”

Past projects of this initiative included the establishment of the “Elyite” website and the Ten Below co-working business development center. Project categories include, but are not limited to, broadband access, workforce innovation, digital equity and marketing. “The Ely Broadband Coalition continues to work toward completing these goal and needs community input to continue these efforts,” Langowski said.

“These projects, with leadership and support, can move forward to be considered for funding by our steering committee,” he added. New members are always welcome on the steering committee.

For more information, contact Langowski at, or call 218-226-5449.

Virginia is looking at the Minnesota broadband model – so are others

Virginia Business recently wrote about Virginia’s need to do better with broadband…

The October issue of Virginia Business magazine has an article relating the challenges faced getting broadband into rural areas. As a professional in this field, I am concerned by the “end goal.” Sadly, the conclusion has got to be: too little — too late and not enough coordination. When the Telecom Czar states a goal of reaching unserved areas  (10 Mbps up/1 Mbps down speed) within seven to 10 years, we need to understand that this will put our rural communities even further behind their urban and suburban counterparts than they are today! Right now high-speed broadband connectivity is both a race and an essential service. How will Virginia losing this race to other states serve the commonwealth? The resulting loss of opportunities and diminished wellbeing for our rural citizens due to the lack of high-speed internet in the near future has been decidedly documented. We need to be focused on ensuring that Virginia does not lose this race to provide essential broadband connectivity.

They take a look at what’s happening in Minnesota (and other states)…

Minnesota: The state of Minnesota has set a 2022 state broadband goal of 25 Mb/3 Mb and a 2026 Minnesota broadband goal of 100 Mbps/20 Mbps. To this end, it initiated its Border to Border Broadband deployment effort under the Department of Economic Development. Most importantly, it has approved $24 million in funding for deployment efforts in both unserved and underserved areas.

It reminded me that last week I gave a presentation to the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, & Museums National Conference about the Minnesota broadband model. I’ll include it below. It was spurred from presentations I gave in Austin (TX) and Nashville on the report we did on Community return on public investment in broadband and talking to people about what we have in Minnesota that other people don’t have in their community. Sometimes you don’t know what you have until you talk to someone in another state, city or community.

Dakota Broadband Board finding a home and maybe a new ED

The Farmington Independent reports…

The Dakota Broadband Board may open office space on the second floor of Farmington City Hall.

“The Dakota Broadband is moving forward and they have offered to host the executive director here in the building,” said Brenda Wendlandt, human resources director for the City of Farmington. “We would also run salary and benefits through our payroll system and manage it and the DBB would reimburse us.”

The city is currently determining what the costs of having the office at City Hall would be. City staff are working on a contract for the rental space and human resources relationship between the city and the DBB.

And there’s more…

The DBB also plans to recruit a new executive director after Jan. 1, 2019, with the intention of the having a new director by the end of May.

Nebraska is looking at Minnesota’s broadband maps

The Public News Service (in Nebraska) is talking about rural broadband and the need to better track rural broadband. They  lift up Minnesota as a state that is making some strides in the right direction…

He points to policies adopted by Minnesota to ensure all residents are covered from border to border, largely relying on public-private partnerships.
Hladik says those efforts, which involve more accurate maps, show that multiple stakeholders working together can ensure coverage when profit margins are too slim for the private sector to get the job done.
“We can’t sit back and expect the state government to solve this for us,” he stresses. “It also can’t be only the provider.
“Frankly, the cost incentive is not there for the provider to extend service to every household in Minnesota or every household in Nebraska.”
Hladik says mapping is likely to be a prominent issue in the next legislative session, and he expects to see a measure introduced to help Nebraska get a better picture of the barriers to expanding broadband access to all of its residents.

Discount Internet Guidebook from NDIA

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance has just release a guidebook on discount Internet options. Here’s a summary from their introduction…

This guidebook has a twofold purpose. It is a practical guide for digital inclusion practitioners — local community-based organizations, libraries, housing authorities, government agencies and others working directly with community members in need of affordable home broadband service. This guidebook also contains recommendations for policy makers and internet service providers to improve current offers and establish new offers.

The guidebook will be more valuable to community members looking for options in urban areas because there are more options in urban areas but the policy advice and advice to providers is helpful to everyone.

FCC Commissioner Carr is in Dakotas and Minnesota (& Dakotas) for Senate 5G field hearing & rural broadband

From the FCC…

WASHINGTON—On Wednesday, October 10, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr will head to the Dakotas and Minnesota for events focused on 5G and rural broadband.  His trip will include broadband construction projects, smart agriculture deployments, telehealth projects, and manufacturing facilities.  He will cap off his trip by testifying at a Senate Commerce field hearing in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Prior to that, Commissioner Carr will be making the following visits:

Carr starts off the morning in Minnesota with a tour of Meridian Blue, a woman-owned tower company.  He’ll tour two tower sites in Eden Prairie and Shorewood, MN, including a rooftop broadband deployment and another at a water tower.  Then he heads to Alexandria, MN, to visit 3M for a tour of their advanced manufacturing facility.  Next, he will meet with Medtronic to learn about their connected healthcare projects.  Then, he will meet with the Farmers Mutual Telephone Co. to see a deployment project and visit with their small business customers to discuss the role of broadband in their communities.

Carr begins the day in North Dakota at Iteris, an applied informatics company in Grand Forks that uses big data to improve agriculture and transportation.  Following that, he goes to Emerado to visit Grand Sky, a testing and research site for drones and unmanned aerial systems.  Then the trip moves back to Minnesota, where Carr will visit Crystal Sugar, a smart-ag beet piling station in Alvarado.  Next, he heads back to North Dakota for a tour of a grain elevator and Midcontinent Communications’ 3.5 GHz CBRS testing sites in Thompson.  He’ll then head to Fargo to tour Midco’s new data center, and then will round out the day with a meeting to learn about an in-the-works project to create a fully autonomous farm in the Fargo area.

Carr kicks off the day in Yankton, South Dakota, with a visit to Ehresmann Engineering, a steel fabricating and consulting firm, which specializes in communication towers.  After that, he visits Sioux Falls Tower with Congresswoman Kristi Noem for a tower climb and meeting with tower companies.  Then, he’ll head to Rowena, SD, to learn more about the work associated with the broadcast television repacking process.  Then he’ll return to Sioux Falls to testify at a Senate Commerce field hearing convened by Chairman John Thune on “The Race to 5G: a View from the Field.”  Members of the media are invited to attend any of these events.  Contact Evan Swarztrauber at (202) 418-2261 or for more information.