Kandiyohi Provides Residential and Business Internet Training

Another great story from another Get Broadband community comes from the West Central Tribune (Training program aims to boost countywide use of high-speed Internet).

Kandiyohi is offering a series of classes, starting in February, to teach basic skills ranging from e-mail and Internet browsing for the general public. For business they are running classes that will show small-business owners how to set up a basic Web site, optimize the use of their Web site and venture into e-commerce to increase sales.

For those who participate, grants will be available to help underwrite 50 percent of the cost of creating or upgrading their business Web site.

The goal is to stimulate 20 new Web sites and 20 new ventures into e-commerce by local small-business owners.

Kandiyohi was gracious enough to share electronic versions of the fliers and ads for the Blandin Foundation web site.

City of Monticello moves forward with city-wide fiber optics

I am gathering local Minnesota broadband stories for the upcoming eNews, Lynne Dahl-Fleming was kind enough to send me the following update from Monticello.

Monticello, MN is moving forward with a city-wide fiber optic network. The fiber network will be financed with revenue bonds, not a tax levy. The cost for the entire project is estimated between $20 to $25 million and completion of the fiber network will take approximately 18 months.

A referendum passed by 74% in September showing that the residents of Monticello were in favor of having telephone, Internet and cable TV services offered by the City over the fiber optic network. The name of the business entity will be FiberNet Monticello.

In mid-November, the city council authorized a contract with Michels Communications for the installation of the co-locate fiber system and conduit, which includes a connection to the co-locate equipment at city hall. City officials and interested residents showed up for a groundbreaking ceremony on November 27 to kick of the project. Currently, the City is securing revenue bonds and is in the process of selecting an engineering firm for the design/build portion of the project.

“It’s a great opportunity for current and future Monticello business and industries to utilize this fiber technology. It will also create some very good jobs in our city,” Mayor Herbst said.

The first customers of the fiber optic network could receive service by spring and early summer of 2009.

For more information visit the website: www.MonticelloFiber.com

Internet Outages Across the Middle East

Thanks to Ann Higgins for the update on the Internet outages in the Middle East (Damaged undersea cable causes Internet outages across Middle East).

Apparently two undersea cables in the Mediterranean were damaged yesterday. Emergency teams are trying to find alternative routes for traffic – including satellite. It’s is expected to day takes to repair the situation. Right now, TeleGeography, a U.S. research group that tracks submarine cables around the world, estimated that the severed lines account for 75 percent of the capacity connecting Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries to Europe.

At this point no one knows what happened. Apparently cables get cut like this pretty frequently, but this is the first time that two have been cut and that has obviously upped the ante. The cables were about a half a mile apart from each other and somewhere between Alexandria, Egypt, and Palermo, Italy. Continue reading

Updated, informal MN broadband map

A month or so ago I posted an earlier draft broadband map and asked folks for help confirming or denying fiber locations. I heard from a number of people and wanted to create an updated map.

Also I want to thank Geoff Daily for his heads up on the new and improved access to Google Maps for mashups.  

Key:
Green – unconfirmed fiber
Blue – confirmed fiber
Purple – fiber in the loop (not FTTH)
Yellow – they are working on fiber

View Larger Map

Light Speed Project Update

Home and Community Options, Inc, Winona, Minnesota  Peter Walsh, Project Coordinator. 

First the good news:  We have a FTTH connection at our main office!  This blog is being posted at “Light Speed”!  We are trying to be patient waiting for additional sites to be hooked up but the weather just has not helped.  The severe cold has caused all kinds of headaches for HBCI and their technicians have been busy keeping customers connected.  Our project is too far down the triage list to expect priority treatment.  So we are learning to be patient.

 

 

 

So this begins our lesson in barriers.  We knew going in that there would be barriers but we didn’t know what they would be.  Of course if we knew what they were going to be we could have anticipated them and been a bit proactive.  But that is the nature of many barriers; they crop up when you least expect them.  We were somewhat surprised to learn that a fair number of our staff are not ready to implement some of the advanced uses of Outlook and Excel and that we needed to offer some additional training for them.  Then we were surprised how much that training was going to cost, so we hunted around and found an independent Microsoft Trainer who is willing work with us.  Now we are endeavoring to put together a training room that we will not have to tear down after every class.  A tenant has just moved out of some of our space and we are commandeering that until it is rented.  This will enable us to set up a formal training center that we can use for a month or so to provide hands-on-training for our staff.

 

 

We are making good headway with our Remote Monitoring project and have begun wiring our first house.  We hope to begin installing cameras and security sensors next week.  Then it will be an extended period of testing and monitoring the reliability of the system. And, I’m sure we will encounter a few new barriers to overcome. (See blog entry “Obstacles to Remote Monitoring” by Dennis Theede, Executive Director, Home and Community Options, Inc.)

light speed communityThe Blandin Foundation is supporting four standout broadband programs through the Light Speed program. The program’s purpose is to stimulate the deployment of bandwidth intensive applications that connect local institutions to area resident’s home. This post comes from a Light Speed community leader.

Obstacles to the use of Remote Monitoring Technology

Dennis Theede, Executive Director

Home and Community Options, Inc. 

Home and Community Options, Inc. is participating in a statewide discussion with the Minnesota Department of Human Services, advocates, consumers and providers to discuss the uses of technology to support persons who have disabilities.  Through discussions about service innovation, sponsored in our State, there has been excitement about using technology to support persons who are elderly or disabled and in need of support.  But with the excitement come obstacles to progressing with technology applications.  There are licensing barriers interpreted to require direct on site supervision.  Others in the field site their concerns about the reliability of technology and the fail safe measures required to insure people are kept safe when they use technology as a means of support.  Others express concerns about this technology misused to violate privacy.

 

 

These barriers cannot be ignored and must be carefully discussed with all stakeholders.  Careful measures need to be incorporated into any applications of technology to support others.  With that said, our society must be responsive to the looming demographic and resource crisis in human services.  The system must be flexible in allowing opportunities for technology to be tried and tested.  Research and data must be attained to validate appropriate applications and prevent uses that put persons in danger.  There must be reasonable allowances to try technology so that along with others in society, technology can be a means of becoming more efficient and enhancing quality of life for those who choose to use it.  Our fear of change and failure to balance dignity of risk with safety should not detour us from using technology to help others.

light speed communityThe Blandin Foundation is supporting four standout broadband programs through the Light Speed program. The program’s purpose is to stimulate the deployment of bandwidth intensive applications that connect local institutions to area resident’s home. This post comes from a Light Speed community leader.

RUS Community Connect Grant Program Deadline March 28, 2008

Thanks to Bernadine Joselyn for sending the heads up on the latest Rural Utilities Service Grants. (It was just posted yesterday.)

Here are the fast facts from the announcement. Good luck!

Deadline: Mar 28, 2008
Expected Number of Awards: 27
Estimated Total Program Funding: $13,405,500
Award Ceiling: $1,000,000
Award Floor: $50,000

Eligible Applicants: State governments, County governments, City or township governments, Special district governments, Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized), Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education, For profit organizations other than small businesses, and Small businesses

Description: The Community-Oriented Connectivity Broadband Grant Program is designed to provide financial assistance to furnish broadband service in rural, economically-challenged communities where such service does not currently exist. Grant funds may be utilized to deploy broadband transmission service to critical community facilities, rural residents, and rural businesses and to construct, acquire, or expand, equip, and operate a community center that provides free access to broadband services to community residents for at least two years. Grants will be awarded, on a competitive basis, to entities serving communities of up to 20,000 inhabitants to ensure rural consumers enjoy the same quality and range of telecommunications service as are available in urban and suburban communities.