February Blandin eNews

Blandin Get Broadband CommunitiesHere’s the news from our latest newsletter. It’s mostly a compilation of Minnesota-related stories from the blog in the last month – but sometimes it’s nice to have it compiled.

Broadband News from around Minnesota

Carver County
The Carver County board approved a fiber optic project linking the county’s cities, schools and libraries, and ultimately businesses and homeowners. http://tinyurl.com/d4lxs2

Verizon Wireless launched its high-speed wireless broadband Internet service in northern Minnesota. http://tinyurl.com/apt83p

Grand Rapids
Bill Coleman and Ann Treacy on behalf of the Blandin Foundation have been working with nonprofit executive directors in Grand Rapids to assess shared technology needs and collaborate on solutions. They are also working specifically with arts organizations in Grand Rapids to create a community arts blog, which should be unveiled later this month.

The Willmar Economic Development Commission is extending their Blandin-sponsored Get Broadband grant by offering a second ground of grants and more classes to local business working on their web sites. http://tinyurl.com/borafd

Forbes names Minneapolis number 7 of their top 30 Most Wired Cities. http://tinyurl.com/btfsqn

The NATOA (National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors) recently filed an Amicus brief in support of the City of Monticello and their quest for FTTH. http://tinyurl.com/d3r46f

North St Paul
On February 24, North St Paul will hold a special election on an $18.5 million bond to build a fiber-optic network to provide high-speed Internet, telephone and cable services. http://tinyurl.com/c5cure

Olmsted County
Olmsted County supports 140 telecommuters. http://tinyurl.com/d43ehh

St Cloud
A St Cloud man has come up with a better wireless solution based on light, not radio waves. http://tinyurl.com/dbmwrr

The Windom Schools have benefitted greatly from broadband technology enhanced by funding from the Blandin Foundation’s Light Speed program. http://tinyurl.com/dak23k

(Many stories are gathered from local online newspaper. Unfortunately each newspaper has a different policy in regards to archive news and therefore we cannot guarantee access to all articles cited.)

Coleman’s Corner

As a big Bruce Springsteen fan, last night’s Super Bowl halftime show was a bonus for me. I am now watching the clock so I can go online and purchase tickets for his upcoming St. Paul show. I have seen Springsteen shows many times over the years and through the usual three hour shows, Bruce orchestrates the band and the crowd through a well choreographed outpouring of energy and emotion. Watching him play a 12 minute set was fun, but a bit unreal. When his set was over, I wondered how many attendees would have voted to skip the second half just to have the E Street Band keep playing. Luckily for the NFL, the game turned into a thriller.

In a pre-game interview, Bob Costas asked Bruce why, after all these years of being asked, the band agreed to play at the Super Bowl. Springsteen laughed and said “’Cause I have a record to promote!” The title song of the album is “Working on a Dream.”

Communities pursuing a better future through broadband might well adopt “Working on a Dream” as their theme song. The opening lyrics, “Out here the nights are long, the days are lonely” and later, “I am working on a dream, though sometimes it feels so far away” and finally “My hands are rough from working on a dream” capture the challenge of community transformation whether pursuing a fiber to the home network or stimulating technology adoption by hesitant or budget stretched community organizations. As with many Springsteen songs that speak to challenge, “Working on a Dream” has a hopeful conclusion that is the outcome of hard work and perseverance. So keep up the good work and the benefits of technology transformation will emerge!

Featured Article – Minnesota broadband mapping unveiled

This is a big week for Minnesota broadband for two reasons. First, Connected Nation will be unveiling a preview of their maps this week. Second, the Ultra High-Speed Broadband Task Force is holding a special meeting to look at the mapping and shovel-ready broadband projects around the state.

Over the past few months, Connected Nation (http://tinyurl.com/d92x93) has been working with broadband providers across the state to create a map of broadband availability and speed. They primarily use the information supplied by the providers to create the maps.

To double check the speeds supplied by providers, Connected Nation has created a speed test and they are asking everyone in Minnesota to test and record their speeds by visiting the site.

Unfortunately, one of our local ISPs (ipHouse) found a hiccup in the Speed Test (http://tinyurl.com/c6cs37).  Apparently the test is skewed for any connections other than DSL or cable, it’s limited to 10mpbs connection and the tests are run out of Texas. Connected Nation has been criticized for their strong relationship to providers in the past (http://tinyurl.com/dkqhh7). The speed tests are a way to balance provider-supplied data so I look forward to hearing how this can be rectified and/or how this affects the results.

Also I’m anxious to see the maps. I suspect we’ll see holes up North and I wonder if we’ll see patchy areas closer to the Twin Cities. I’m curious to see how areas where the large businesses can pay top dollar for broadband but homes and small businesses cannot get access are represented on the map.

Even in their preliminary state, I suspect these maps will be put to work immediately to gauge which areas in Minnesota might be most in need of shovel-ready projects. The Ultra High-Speed Broadband Task Force will be discussing shovel-ready projects and the mapping on February 6, 2009.

There are three ways to add your two cents to the mapping project and the economic stimulus proposals:

  1. Visit the Connected Minnesota site to test and record the speed of your connection. (http://www.connectmn.org/)
  2. Submit a shovel-ready project idea to the Ultra High-Speed Broadband Task Force. (http://www.ultra-high-speed-mn.org/)
  3. Come to view the meeting on February 6, 2009 (http://tinyurl.com/d953zk)

The broadband maps will also be unveiled to Senate on February 5 at 3:00 (http://tinyurl.com/blftea) and the House at 8:30 am on February 6 (http://tinyurl.com/d2kevk).

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