Get Broadband Businesses in Todd County

Last week I got to visit Todd County. Alex Weego at the Todd County Development Corporation invited me and Jan Hepola from Minnesota Technology to Todd County to talk to a few companies about how web-based technology might help themgrow their business. This post is long but I wanted to share what we learned about tech challenges that businesses in rural Minnesota are facing. Continue reading

New Ulm’s Tech Tuesdays for Retailers

New UlmYesterday I was in New Ulm for a Chamber of Commerce meeting set up to promote their upcoming Tech Tuesday training. Yours truly is the trainer for the event and I’m really excited. (The Blandin Foundation is supporting the training through their Get Broadband program.)

Sheila Howk, New Ulm Retail Economic Development Coordinator, sent me a brief summer of the meeting:

We had a great turn out this morning! We had over 50 people who attended, and over 30 people who signed up for courses. Some feedback that I have heard already is the training that we have planned is short and too the point, exactly what we need. I also had people that were unable to attend the breakfast that would like to go to the classes.

But I also wanted to add my own notes. Continue reading

NXTComm Conference Update

NXTCommLast week was the NXTComm conference in Chicago. I wasn’t there; I was in Sauk Centre talking to businesses about web sites and I hope to tell you more about that later. But over the summer I am trying to track various conferences via new and blog for all of us. It’s the homebody’s version of professional development.

NXTCOmm is a conference and trade event for telecommunications and ICET professionals. Here are their keynote speakers – and various notes I could find on their presentations. I’m going to try to give fairly factual accounts but I fully admit that the resources I used below may be pretty biased. Continue reading

Dick Nordvold on the Iron Range Community FiberNet

FiberNetI just got off of the phone with Dick Nordvold, consultant to the Iron Range Community FiberNet. They recently unveiled a new web site that tracks their progress in building “state of the art communications network that will make voice, video and data services available in 12 Iron Range communities. This fiber-optic network will equal the capabilities of the best networks in the world and will be one of the few available in Minnesota.” (quoted from their web site)

I think the Iron Range project is interesting because it serves as a model for other rural communities looking into building out a network that will help the community thrive in future. Here are some of the quick facts:

First a little background for folks who don’t know about the project – then notes on my talk with Dick. Continue reading

Sprint to Purchase Northern PCS

Thanks to Jamie for sending me the update on Sprint’s latest purchase. Apparently they have an agreement to acquire Northern PCS Services, LLC, for $312.5 million, including the assumption of debt. (The purchase needs to be approved and should be next quarter – but this is the plan.)

Here’s a bit of info on Northern PCS gleaned from the Sprint press release:

Northern PCS, based in Waite Park, Minnesota, provides Sprint PCS services in certain small to mid-size markets in Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa, serving more than 167,000 direct wireless subscribers and more than 69,000 reseller subscribers in a coverage area of more than 1.8 million people. It employs about 240 people and had revenues for the twelve months ended December 31, 2006 of $130 million.

Sprint has acquired 6 similar small market affiliates in the last 2 years or so. Apparently Sprint has purchased affiliates who were unhappy with issues of competition; buying the companies has helped them avoid lawsuits – or so I learned from Xchange Online. I haven’t been able to find much more.

The Northern PCS domain name now points to Sprint, admittedly I don’t know if it always has. Darn, sometimes the purchased companies. On a tangent – I looked them up on the WayBack Machine (which archived many, many web sites and all I could find was their statistics page from 2002.) Hmmm – makes me want to check out more archived pages – if only I could see more recent stats.

Google Policy Blog

Today Google started “Google Public Policy Blog: Google’s views on government, policy and politics.” They began the blog internally in April – so there’s a there there today – but the official unveiling is indeed today.

Past topics include:

What Do We Mean By “Net Neutrality”?
Google’s “People Operations” Guy Talks Immigration Policy
Google Politics, French Elections Edition

So you can see the topics are pretty broad. The reasons for the posts are fairly transparent at times – but they have opened up comments and at least when I read them, they didn’t appear to be censoring based on negative feedback.

I would like to see a list of categories for the blog posts – but there isn’t one, yet. I could spend quite a bit of time checking out their list of favorite blogs – but I won’t – at least I won’t tonight.


I just ran across an old favorite site of mine – well favorite work-related site. CyberTelecom tracks federal Internet law and regulations. It started in 1997. I think I used to visit it back when I worked for an ISP – in 1997.

They appear to be tracking everything happening with the FCC, they track items by topic, and they track/research wonderfully nerdy things on their blog, such as Stealth Trademarks, where they talk about the legality of using trademarked names in hidden places such as meta-tags.

I find stealth trademarks to be a very interesting topic. (Remember, I used to be a librarian.) I think they have just posted the first in a series of blog posts but so far using trademark names in meta-tags is illegal. I’ll have to wait for the updates to learn about keywords and pop-ups.

Finally, and possibly of greatest interest to this audience, CyberTelecom has just updated their list of ISP associations. They don’t list any in Minnesota – but they do mention that the Minnesota Internet Service Provider Association now leads to an adult site. I don’t remember anything called the Minnesota Internet Service Provider Association, but I do remember the Minnesota Internet Service Trade Association. I guess I’m not inspired enough to see if that leads to an adult site too. But I do appreciate the list of associations.