Blandin enews May 2010

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.

Minnesota ARRA Broadband Funding Recipients
The final batch of Round One ARRA broadband recipients was announced in May. Projects based in Minnesota or that will expand services in Minnesota received $31,939,636 in loans and $87,438,857 in grants, however the grant total includes $47,778,669 in funds that will go to multi-state projects. Round Two applications were due in March; Minnesota has 37 BIP applications and 58 BTOP projects in the hopper. The good news for Round Two applicants is that more than half of the money has yet to be doled out and there are fewer applicants in Round Two.  Unfortunately not all Round One applicants felt as if they could adhere to Federal rules, some of which conflict with prior contracts.

Update on Blandin’s ARRA Project: Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities
The Blandin Foundation has been busy preparing for and launching the MIRC project. One of the greatest benefits has been the connections made between the foundation and other organizations. Not only has Blandin strengthened relationships with formal partners, informal connections are starting to form with fellow ARRA recipients at the University of Minnesota, and with other BTOP recipients

Minnesota Broadband Bill
The Minnesota Broadband Bill was signed by the governor in April. The law sets forth a goal of minimum download speeds of 10-20 Mbps and minimum upload speeds of 5-10 Mbps by 2015 and that Minnesota become a world leader in broadband speed and availability. It also asks for an annual report on the state of broadband in Minnesota.

Minnesota ranks 13th for Broadband Competition
According to Minnesota-based ID Insight’s latest report Minnesota ranks number 13 in terms of the most competitive broadband environment. The same study found that states with the largest percentage of Internet users and the highest available speed tend to be less competitive, which they define as having the fewest of providers.

CenturyTel to buy Qwest
CenturyTel Inc., the country’s fifth-largest local-phone company, plans to buy Qwest Communications International Inc., the third-largest, in a stock swap worth $10.6 billion to gain the benefits of scale in a shrinking business. Many in the telecommunications industry predict more consolidation in the future.

Local Broadband News

Bemidji, Cass Lake/Leech Lake, Cook County, Grand Rapids
E-Democracy completes a project funded by the Blandin Foundation to promote and support local online discussion. The project report indicates that online discussion will continue even after the formal project is complete.

Eagan published a Resolution in Support of a High Speed Minnesota Broadband Policy.

Edina Library is just one library noted for their expanding services based heavily on job seeking patrons and their need to update technical skills.

Mankato-based HickoryTech is expanding their broadband service to North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa.

Mankato celebrates public-private partnership by recognizing HickoryTech and the South Central Service Cooperative and their expansion of an Internet, data and video conferencing service to 69 schools and libraries in a 12-county region of south central Minnesota.

Mound citizens have the dubious distinction of being the first Frontier Communications customers notified about upcoming shift to metered pricing for broadband service in their area.

Twin Cities
Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint are or soon will be installing faster, higher-capacity 4G (fourth generation) networks in the Twin Cities.

Twin Cities
St Paul and Minneapolis are home to innovative coworking centers, hybrids of wired coffee shops and incubators where members can get online, use businesses and meet with other consultants, remote workers or small business owners.

Windom and other towns involved with the ARRA-funded Southwest Minnesota Broadband Group are waiting for the Federal funds to arrive and the work can begin.

Coleman’s Corner

Receiving word from NTIA that the Blandin Foundation BTOP grant had been approved was an exciting moment. As you can imagine, the reality of the commitment quickly begins to set in and you ask yourself and your team, “How are we going to implement this project so it makes a real difference now and into the future?”

Blandin Foundation’s operational theory of change is “Framing x Social Capital x Mobilization = Healthy Community.” This formula seems especially relevant to our Demonstration Community project component. We are asking:

How can we infuse the broadband discussion with local relevance?

How can we identify and recruit the right blend of the local social capital?

How do we mobilize the community with a bias towards action rather than excessive deliberation?

To be successful, our NTIA BTOP broadband project must spur increased broadband adoption and enable new and improved useful applications of technology that will enhance greater Minnesota as a place to live and do business.

This entry was posted in Blandin Foundation, MN, uncategorized by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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