Google, Duluth and Broadband on MPR

I love to see broadband get more play in mainstream media – so I was delighted to see/hear the story of Duluth/Twin Port’s pursuit to become *the* Google network on Minnesota Public Radio. Good for Twin Ports for raising awareness and jumping on the opportunity. And good for other communities in Minnesota for jumping in too; Bill Coleman (who many readers will know through Blandin broadband initiatives) mentions in the article that Dakota County will also be pursing the Google opportunity and St Anthony Park and St Paul are also considering making the leap.

If nothing else the Google opportunity has generated interest and enthusiasm I love to see that especially in light of the FCC report that came out last week indicating that adoption of broadband is as necessary as deployment. Adoption includes educating people about how to use broadband but also why it’s important. And an important rule in learning anything is – first you’ve got to want to and the Google effort is priming communities and residents to want to learn more about broadband.

But not everyone whole-heartedly loves the Google plan, especially when taking the long term perspective. Chris Mitchell from the Institute for Local Self Reliance points out in the story that…

“Google’s interest lies with Google,” Mitchell said. “Communities need to be in control of the infrastructure that they depend on. So even though the interest of Google today lies in providing this great network, no one knows if 10 years down the line Google is still going to be interested in doing that.

He brings up a good point, building networks is not Google’s bread and butter and I doubt that it will become their core competency but in the short term, it’s building a buzz. Chris offers some sage advice in his MuniNetworks blog

I think Google’s program can do much good, so long as communities aren’t misled into believing the search (advertising) king is going to solve their problems for them. I wouldn’t discourage communities from applying for this fascinating program — 1 gigabit speeds will certainly set them apart — but for most communities, this will be a distraction from what they need to do themselves to succeed in the 21st century.

Update on St. Paul/Ramsey County’s ARRA application

Beware the Ides of March – March 15. That’s the deadline for Round Two of the ARRA BTOP/BIP funding applications. It’s an interesting time – and that’s why there are so many recent posts on the topic.

The St Paul/Ramsey project is slightly different than the others we’ve mentioned today (Blandin, Lake County) in that they didn’t apply for Round One. St. Paul/Ramsey County plan to work with the Minnesota Fiber Exchange on a public-private partnership that would provide fiber links to government facilities and fiber access to local businesses.

According to the Minnesota Fiber Exchange web site…

Our goal is to provide carrier neutral-dark fiber-open access networks to carriers and ISPs to allow them to expand their business base in the community. Especially in an area such as St. Paul and Ramsey County where currently there is a dearth of fiber assets for lease; we believe that this will be an exciting way for providers to increase customer reach. Our goal is to provide a competitively priced dark fiber service that will allow ISPs to grow business.

The are currently looking for potential ISP/partners. If you’re interested you can find out more in the MFE web site.

Update on Lake County’s ARRA application updates

Lake County did not receive funding in Round One; they are working on an application for Round Two. Here’s the word from the Lake County News Chronicle on their situation:

“We’re obviously disappointed we didn’t get in on the first round,” said Gary Fields of National Public Broadband, the group working with the county on the project. He said the second chance of funding is more for “last-mile” projects like the one in Lake County, meaning service directly to homes. The first round was for building the basic network.

County Commissioner Paul Bergman doesn’t consider the rejection a “big deal.” He said the second round suits the plan better. Fields said the strength of project is improved because the addition of places like Duluth Township and areas around Ely will show a better chance of economic growth.

The project would connect homes and businesses on the electrical grid with television, internet and phone services.

The Northeast Service Co-operative also has plans for a broadband infrastructure project that focuses on entities such as schools and libraries and connecting them through broadband. Bergman said if that gets funded, it would help with the counties emergency service management.

Update on Blandin’s ARRA Round One application

We got some good and bad news on our road to pursuing ARRA broadband stimulus funding. The good news is that they report that there remains a strong level of interest in our application. The bad news is that it now appears that a final decision won’t be forthcoming until mid to late March.

We thought we’d share our progress – especially for folks in similar boats. We are considering whether and how to submit a Round Two application. And like many of you we are in a quandary about whether to make changes to the application and if we make changes – what changes to make. We feel that our application already addressed some of the emphasized qualifications for Round Two – but of course – again like so many others – we’re not sure what has gotten us this far and what might make our initiative even more appealing.

Also it sounds as if the timeline for announcements for Round One has been extended. We thought that might be of interest to folks too. The journey continues.


Mayo Clinic researches remote healthcare monitoring

Earlier this week the Mayo Clinic announced that they are working with GE Healthcare and Intel Corporation to investigate a new model of health care delivery for patients at increased risk of rehospitalization; it is designed to meet patients’ needs where they are, including in their homes. They will be trying home monitoring of patients with chronic diseases, using Intel’s remote patient monitoring technology, will reduce hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits.

They will be working for one year with 200 patients who are all over 60 years of age. The Mayo Clinic will be monitoring the patients daily using in-home monitoring technology to measure their vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse and weight, and respond to questions specific to their diseases on a daily basis, with all data reviewed by the clinical care team working with their primary care provider.

The Mayo Clinic hopes this will reduce costs and improve healthcare…

With the numbers of seniors expected to rise dramatically and increasing numbers of patients experiencing chronic disease, the current focus on face-to-face clinic interaction with the provider is not a sustainable delivery model. Technology could enable new care models to help rein in costs and improve patient outcomes through personalized care and ongoing disease management at home and in the community.

And the timing couldn’t be better! Just as the Mayo Clinic is making its announcement, MinnPost found a study touting telemedicine as “a possible cure for rural out-migration.” MinnPost looks at a study (the Baltic Rural eHealth project was conducted in Norway, Sweden and Denmark) that focused on the impact of eHealth, or telemedicine, on outmigration.

The results of the study confirmed or at least corroborated with the vision of the Mayo Clinic…

The Baltic Rural eHealth study found both quantitative and qualitative benefits from the use of telemedicine. Quantitative benefits found include cost saving from reduced patient travel and reduced hospital admissions. Qualitative benefits found included access to greater personnel resources, greater patient access to specialist care, quality of treatment, and more readily available information.

The impact of telemedicine on out-migration didn’t seem as strong but the study did find that it was probable that eHealth can, to an extent, counteract out-migration and that the general benefits of increased telemedicine might prevent out-migration of health-care professionals as rural health-care jobs will be able to offer more professional support and a higher degree of prestige

The Farm Bill is bringing broadband to MN

According to MinnPost, a federal loan will pay for 1500 of fiber in north central Minnesota. It will cover 7,160 homes and 795 businesses in Todd, Cass, Crow Wing, and Morrison counties.

That should help with the (hopefully soon to be passed) bill aiming for ubiquitous coverage!

With the support of USDA Rural Development loan authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, Consolidated Telecommunications Company (CTC) of Brainerd will install 1,524 miles of fiber optic cable in six communities over five years.

Senator Amy Klobuchar is just one politician pleased with the announcement:

“Every American should have access to broadband Internet service just as they have access to telephone service and electricity,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar. “I have heard first-hand from Minnesotans about the importance of having access to fast and affordable high-speed Internet. These funds will help bring quality Internet access to rural Minnesota.”

Digital Inclusion Summit in Maplewood on March 9

I wanted to pass on an invitation. I think the event will be well worth attending!

The digital age is creating an information and communications renaissance. But, due to limited access to affordable broadband and a widening gap in adequate digital literacy training and adoption, it is not serving all Americans and their local communities equally. The economic downturn of 2008 added urgency to all this concern. The needs are great. The time has come for new and aggressive action to dramatically improve the individual and community opportunities available in Minnesota and across America. How we react, individually and collectively, to this shortfall will affect the quality of our lives and the very nature of our communities. It is time to re-examine our roles as citizens in the digital age. We have a unique opportunity to leverage innovation and effective collaboration to expand broadband availability and adoption now. Creating informed communities is a task for everyone.

America’s Digital Inclusion Summit

Working Together To Expand Opportunity Through Universal Broadband Access

Tuesday, March 9th from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM Central Time

Live Webcast followed by a Community Conversation at Maplewood Performing Arts Theatre

Join the Federal Communications Commission and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for an overview of the recommendations in the FCC’s National Broadband Plan meant to ensure that all Americans are included in the broadband era. As the FCC prepares to deliver the Plan to Congress on March 17th, hear perspectives from Chairman Genachowski, members of Congress, Knight Foundation President & CEO Alberto Ibargüen and people from across the country that have benefited from broadband. Help create solutions that drive broadband adoption for all Americans.

Live at the Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC
Videocast at the FCC Commission Room, 445 12th SW, Washington DC
Webcast at the Maplewood Performing Arts Theatre, 2100 White Bear Avenue, Maplewood, MN
Map and Directions

I’m hoping to get a link for remote attendees soon and will post when I can. (Link now available: Here is the link for a desktop webcast of America’s Digital Inclusion Summit, sponsored by the FCC and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.  Pre-registration required (to ensure adequate technical capacities): at  )