Want to get Delta’s attention? Twitter

In college I was a big fan of Jack Kerouac. He had a poem I liked…

Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.

I often say it to myself as…

Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use Twitter (or email).

Turns out that sentiment was especially true for travelers trying to reach Delta during Hurricane Irene. According to Minneapolis St Paul Business Journal

Delta, which canceled hundreds of flights in advance of the storm, kept callers waiting an average of nearly 34 minutes, according to a customer survey conducted by StellaService, The New York Times reported. That was second-worst of all airlines in the survey.

StellaService did say that Delta responded well on its Twitter account. The airline reacted to 100 percent of Twitter messages in the survey, with an average time of 14 seconds. American never responded to any Tweets.

I’m not trying to pick on Delta. Apparently they were much better than American Airlines – just pointing out the social media silver lining.

Bond for Broadband?

Ground Level’s Dave Peters interviewed Rick King (chair of the original Minnesota Ultra High-Speed Broadband Task Force) on his take for the Governor’s Dayton recent Task Force announcement

If Minnesota wants to move up in the state rankings for broadband access and speeds, it will need more fiber optic cable in the ground. And one way to encourage that without direct infusion of state money is to allow broadband projects to be included in state bonding requests, even if they ultimately are owned by private companies.

That’s one of the thoughts Rick King had this morning when I caught up with him to get his take on Gov. Mark Dayton’s re-creation of a state broadband task force last week.

It’s an interesting perspective. But at the article points out…

A direct state infusion to follow on federal stimulus money that state projects have received isn’t politically likely

Southwest MN is getting excited for fiber

Both the Jackson County Pilot (Aug 18, 2011) and the Cottonwood County Citizen (Aug 24, 2011) have highlighted the Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services’ (SMBS) progress in bringing fiber to Southwest Minnesota. The Pilot paints a nice picture of what broadband means to the area…

Your grandpa planted crops with a two-row planter. You Use a 36-row planter.

The same is true of information technology, said Dan Olsen, general manager of Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services, the group charged with bringing lightning-fast fiber-optic communication capabilities to Jackson County.

The potential impact on the local economic development is easy to imagine. The Cottonwood Citizen details the more direct impact of the project on local economy…

Olsen said there are roughly 40 people working full-time on the regional fiber-to-the-home project.

That number includes outside construction people, engineering staff, the sales staff, project management, vendors and others.

Again back to the Jackson Pilot, they recognize that broadband alone won’t make the difference in bringing in jobs and economic opportunity – but adoption programs will help lead to success…

In addition, SMBS officials believe that in partnership with the Blandin Foundation sustainable adoption dollars and local economic development groups, this network will make the region much more saleable for business retention and attraction efforts.

This network will not only create jobs, but also build provide a foundation for opportunities for community anchor institutions and businesses to build and implement applications that will increase the quality of life as well as improve health, education and public safety services across the region.

Broadband Public-Private controversy in Wisconsin

I don’t pay as much attention to what’s happening with broadband in Wisconsin, because there are just so many hours to the day and so much happening in Minnesota – but a friend sent me a recent report from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction; it’s a Background Paper on School and Library Broadband and Internet Access in Wisconsin. It’s very detailed and definitely written from the perspective of the school and library crowd but it caught my eye as a great look at the historical challenge of public-private partnership.

The report comes in response to news release from Access Wisconsin, a collection of independent telecommunications providers, that “applauded Joint Finance action prohibiting UW involvement in telecommunications business.”

I think the big picture is trying to balance

  • Government support for school and library broadband connectivity (which with E-rate programs and other has been quite good in the US)
  • Affordable broadband for local businesses and residents – especially in rural area
  • Creating a market opportunity for a private business to serve local business needs
  • Creating an opportunity for local government to provide broadband if/when a private industry don’t meet the need

It’s difficult to create policies that will lead to a successful solution that will meet the needs of every unique community. As I said, the report is detailed but it is a good look at what’s been decided in the past and how that has had an impact on what opportunities/barriers currently exist. The you can factor in changes that are emerging and will continue to emerge with the National Broadband Policy plans.

Minnesota Broadband Task Force 2011: It’s on!

Many of us have been waiting for the good word – and I think we have it. Here’s the news from the Governor’s press release

Today, Governor Mark Dayton issued Executive Order 11-27, establishing the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband and continuing his commitment to strengthening our state’s infrastructure and fostering a strong business climate. The Task Force will be charged to expand broadband access in Minnesota. Dayton’s stated goal is “border-to-border” high-speed internet and cell phone access throughout Minnesota.

Governor Dayton also directed the Minnesota Department of Commerce to create a Broadband Development Office and convene a subcabinet of agencies to work on statewide broadband policies.

What’s good is the addition of the Broadband Development Office! In fact, I’d say that has the potential to be great.

The Task Force is good too – but I think the general consensus was that its announcement has been on its way. Here’s a quick recap on the Task Force from the press release…

The task force will be made up of 15 members, to be appointed by Governor Dayton through the open appointments process. Members of the task force will represent a balance of broadband interests, including consumers, business and residential users, educational and health care institutions, telephone and cable companies, wireless providers as well as metro and rural local units of government. The Governor will designate a member to serve as chair of the task force.

The announcement on the open appointments will happen right after Labor Day (Sep 6) and will be posted on the Secretary of State site. I encourage smart, interested folks to apply.

In the Executive Order are some new items too. The Governor is asking the Task Force to report in on the state of broadband in the State by the end of the year (including “opportunities to coordinate with federal, state and local agencies!”) by the end of the year but also to “develop a Minnesota Broadband Plan outline” by the end of January 2012.

Connect Minnesota will be able to help considerably with the report on how things are – but it’s still a *very* tall order for the time allotted. Luckily the original Minnesota Task Force report provides a strong base upon which to build.

MN Broadband Success Story: Cannon Falls Industrial Park

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of traveling to Cannon Falls, Minnesota with Bill Coleman to hear about how Cannon Falls and Frontier Communications got together to identify and meet the telecommunications needs of area businesses. We spoke with Community Development Director at Cannon Falls, Dave Maroney and Scott Behn, Frontier Communications Area General Manager for Minnesota. They worked with Bill Coleman through Blandin Foundation’s Community Broadband Resources to create a solution that is helping to upgrade the broadband connection to the Cannon Falls Industrial Park.

For other communities in Frontier Communications territories, Scott suggests contacting their local Frontier General Area Manager when they are considering broadband options.

Latest on Lightsquared – States are very interested

I’ve written about LightSquared in the past. They are the folks who claim to have a way to serve 92 percent of the US land area with wireless broadband (via 40,000 antennas). The problem is that there are compatibility issues between LightSquared and GPS. The connections get in each other’s way. So while the potential is great – so is the risk.

The FCC has been looking into LightSquared. Fierce Broadband Wireless is reporting that state lawmakers are asking them to get going fixing the problem. Two Minnesota State Senators were quoted…

Minnesota State Sen. Ron Latz cited a different benefit by endorsing LightSquared to bridge the broadband income-access gap. Latz said he represented a mixed-income area of suburban Minneapolis.

“Households with incomes below $20,000 have access to broadband at less than one-third the rate of households over $75,000,” he said in his filing. “Yet access to broadband is increasingly important for all Americans to actively participate in the workforce.”

Another Minnesota State Senator, Mike Parry, stressed the need for broadband in his mostly rural district.

“My legislative district, which is located in southern Minnesota, includes two regional centers-Fairbault and Owatonna,” he said. “These two communities are surrounded by small towns and farms. The lack of good telecommunications service is a problem for ambulance crew, state and county police and others that must respond swiftly to emergency situations.”