Blandin August eNews

Minnesota Broadband Bill

The FCC published their Sixth Annual Broadband Report, unveiling both a new definition of broadband (4 Mbps upstream/1 Mbps downstream) and their list of Minnesota’s least served counties. Their list bears little resemblance to the list compiled by the Minnesota Ultra High Speed Task Force last fall. The recommendations set out by the Task Force became laws last spring and took effect as the Minnesota Broadband Bill on August 1, 2010.

Minnesota ISP Changes
Changes in the Minnesota ISP landscape mirror what’s happening in the rest of the US. Improved wireless is on the horizon with Best Buy partnering with Clearwire to provide 4G in 2011. Mergers are in the air with the public invited to comment on CenturyLink’s plan to acquire Qwest. Current providers are upping their game; Charter Business is introducing two new services: Extreme Power, with speeds up to 75 Mbps, and Mega Power, with up to 40 Mbps speeds.

Broadband and Minnesota Politics
At least two gubernatorial candidates have talked about the importance of broadband. Tom Horner talked about broadband as a tool for home-centered healthcare, while Tom Emmer visited Paul Bunyan Telephone in Bemidji to learn more about broadband in rural Minnesota. A Star Tribune editorial emphasized Horner’s points asserting that broadband should be a key issue in the race. In Washington, another Minnesota elected official is focusing on broadband too; Minnesota Senator Al Franken calls Net Neutrality the First Amendment issue of our time.

(If your favorite candidate has also mentioned broadband, please let us know. We like to highlight any and all mentions of broadband.)

Blandin Fall Broadband Conference

This year’s Blandin Broadband Conference spotlights communities across Minnesota that are Cultivating a Culture of Use through ARRA broadband funding. Come hear from experts, researchers, students and folks in the field who are creating programs to help boost broadband use in their communities. There will be time and space for attendees to ask questions and tell their stories, and follow up on the work of the Minnesota Ultra High-Speed Broadband Taskforce to answer the question, “Where are we now – one year later?” Geek Squad founder, Robert Stephens will be the keynote speaker.

Local Broadband News

Anoka County
Connect Anoka County, a partnership of Anoka County and Zayo Bandwidth, announced it has been awarded $13,382,593 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), to expand fiber broadband connectivity across the county.

Austin Utilities seeks ISP to help run a wireless broadband network.

Crosslake leaders meet with Representative Larry Howes to discuss the potential urban/rural discrepancy in the National Broadband Plan.

Eveleth and Sebeka
CNN writes a story on rural-sourcing, highlighting a CrossUSA, a Minnesota business with offices in Eveleth and Sebeka that provides offsite IT consulting.

Grand Rapids
The Grand Rapids Chamber is working with the local Depot Commons Association to create a shared professional workspace (or co-working space) for business professionals. Co-workers will receive access to a reliable office space with a unique modern community of professionals.

MedMinder provides a “computerized pillbox” to remind ailing parents to make medication in Minneapolis and so that adult children living around the world can keep tabs on their healthcare.

In June, Minneapolis lit up 117 free Wi-Fi spots throughout the city. Twin Cities Daily Planet reporter finds that some spots are more accessible than others.

Former Broadband Task Force members discuss perception of broadband speeds in Moorhead.

Murray County
Economic Developer, John Shepard presents to the Farm Bureau about the importance of broadband and the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) project.

Sibley and Renville Counties
Blandin Foundation awards $40,000 to help seven cities in Sibley County and one city in Renville County with a study to investigate the feasibility of a Fiber to The Home (FTTH) network.

(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

Coming home from a week’s vacation can be comforting – welcomed by your own dog, sleeping in your own bed, and opening your own refrigerator are some of my indicators of being home. After this past week, I can add one more item to my list – logging on through my own Internet connection. It turns out that northern California is similar to Minnesota in many ways.

I experienced the full range of connectivity options over the past week – from cable modems and 3G cell coverage to no broadband and no cell service. The quality of connection availability was predictable – excellent in urban and suburban settings, worse in the mountains and countryside. I was a bit surprised at the lack of broadband availability at the house that I rented with friends in Tahoe City. Our landlord/host, producer of a PBS travel series, uses an air card for his broadband connection with no Wi-Fi at the house.

I also faced the usual tension between being on vacation and keeping up with work. It was difficult to not take a regular look at the Blackberry and to click away a few email responses. I was successful at holding the line at just reading email and not reading and creating documents. That seemed like a good idea last week…today, I am not so sure!

This entry was posted in Blandin Foundation, MN 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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