Blandin eNews September 2009

Here’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.

Blandin Get Broadband CommunitiesNTIA/RUS Funding
The NTIA/RUS received 2,200 applications requesting $28 billion in response to the broadband stimulus NOFA. Specifics on the applications should be published in the upcoming weeks. Reviewers have begun to look at the applications. You can follow the review process on the blog of the BTOP Reviewer.  

Broadband Task Force in Fergus Falls
The Ultra High-Speed Broadband Task Force met in Fergus Falls in August. They talked about speed, symmetry, policies and actions required to achieve ubiquitous broadband, role of government, public and private partnerships and costs. They heard from community members, many of whom had attended Blandin’s Broadband Policy Seminar held the day before. The audio from the Task Force meeting is available online.  

Research on Rural Broadband
The USDA released a report that found that rural communities with better broadband access had greater economic growth than areas with less access.  

Rural Hospitals Stuck
Rural hospitals are being asked to move to electronic medical records. That will cost money. There is some federal funding available; unfortunately to qualify for that funding the hospitals are expected to do preparation but that preparation has not been specified – leaving the hospitals in a difficult position.

Go for the Gig
Mark Ansboury, from the Knight Center of Digital Excellence makes the case for creating a National Broadband Policy that promote gigabit Internet speeds for all.

Local Broadband News

Thanks to funding from the Blandin Foundation, the City of Adrian has been able to successfully install a telepharmacy solution to meet the needs of the local community.

Apple Valley
Citilink Communications (based out of Apple Valley, MN) has built the first WiMAX wireless network in Minnesota.  

Paul Bunyan Telephone is highlighted by Ars Technica in an article praising the work of forwarding-thinking local broadband providers.  

Hazeltine Golf Course installed 26 hi-speed T1 fiber optic data lines, 50 DSL Internet lines and 29 ISDN lines for radio in preparation for broadcasting the PGA Major Tournament in August.  

Dakota County
Frontier Communications is providing free Wi-Fi at the Dakota County Fair.  

Fergus Falls
A Fergus Falls Daily Journal editorial recognizes that residents as close as 12 miles from a community as large as Fergus Falls are only able to receive Internet access through a dial-up connection.  

Jackson, Cottonwood and Nobles Counties
The SouthWest Minnesota Broadband Group (SWMBG) is planning to expand the reach of FTTP in portions of Jackson, Cottonwood and Nobles County.  

Lake County
After garnering support from local communities, Lake County moves forward with plans for a fiber network. In fact they just released a Design/Build RFP for its FTTP network.  

The Moorhead Public Service Commission approved the sale of its GoMoorhead broadband operation 702 Communications for $1.2 million.  

St Cloud
An editorial in the local paper asks, are we disqualifying an entire population because of Internet access?

Bill ColemanColeman’s Corner

The first stimulus grants have been submitted and now applicants are waiting to hear whether they made the first cut in the review process. Those who do will need to respond to requests for more information about their projects. As someone who worked on two projects, I have to ask myself what more they could possibly want to know?! The stimulus application required submittal of in-depth engineering, financial and marketplace information. Government servers ground to a halt under the deluge of documentation submitted electronically requiring that an extra week be allowed for applications.

While I have not seen a comprehensive list of Minnesota applications yet, I know of several others. It will be interesting to see the full list and analyze the decisions that providers, communities and non-profits made in selecting projects and project partners. It will point to the variety of approaches that might work to increase investment in infrastructure, increase efforts to provide public access and adopt technology in business, government, education and health care.

I have seen several notices about initiatives in other states where the state government has taken the lead to coordinate applications and capitalize on shared investments, thus maximizing the amount of broadband stimulus funds received and benefits obtained from those funds. I wonder why that is not happening here in Minnesota in preparation for the upcoming second and third rounds; it is certainly not too late for that to happen and I hope that it does. I am proud of the effort that Blandin Foundation led to develop and submit an application in the Sustainable Broadband category. We have a solid set of activities and a great set of partners. If funded, there will be a flood of broadband promotion activities that communities and providers can get behind to work together to increase our broadband vitality.


September 2 – Webinar: Getting the Most out of Cloud Storage
September 16-17 – NTEN’s Online Nonprofit Technology Conference: Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission
September 27 – October 1 – Fiber to the Home Conference & Expo (Houston TX)
November 12 – Talking Tech: Nonprofit Focused Solutions – Remote Access Methods
November 18-19 – Blandin Broadband Conference (Duluth MN)
December 10 – Talking Tech: Nonprofit Focused Solutions – Supercharge Your Work With MAPS

1 thought on “Blandin eNews September 2009

  1. I’m posting this comment with Pete’s permission:

    Ann, just a note the Minnesota Telecommunications Coordinators did give the Ultra High Speed Task Force a paper on what we are looking at as goals for Internet for K-12 schools. We were dogged by T-1 being in the picture as that is what some legislators learned as a standard. We have now gone to more of what ISTE is promoting which is so much bandwidth per student. I find it laughable that the National Cable & Telecommunications Association is happy with the current definition – 768 kbps down and 200 kbps up. You could not even do a basic video call with that kind of bandwidth which is to me very basic if you ever want to telecommute.

    As you recently pointed out by your child’s questions regarding what applications you could not run on your Internet connection, the amount of bandwidth available should not be the limiting factor for schools. Schools are already pinched very very much financially so that is the biggest limiting factor for K12 schools. At LCTN we have tried to make bandwidth the LEAST restrictive part of the equation. We have 18 schools sharing 50 mbps with a per district cost of $185 a month. We monitor the connection and we can increase it within 24 hours if need be.

    Wouldn’t it be great if the biggest limiting factor were educators imagination rather that how much bandwidth a particular application may use? “No you can’t do a video connection to a rain forest research scientist in South America as it takes too much bandwidth.” Wouldn’t a better question be, “Why are we not connecting our students across the state or world if indeed we do want world learners?”

    just my two cents


    Pete Royer
    LCTN Director
    2 Century Ave SE
    Hutchinson MN 55350-3100

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