Blandin eNews January 2012

News  from the Blandin on Broadband Blog (A recap of December 2011)

MN Broadband Task  Force Report is Out
Less  than two months after being announced and after  their second meeting,  the latest Minnesota Broadband Task Force has released their first report, a  state of the state of broadband in Minnesota. According to  the report, 57 percent of Minnesota  households have access to 10 Mbps (downstream) and 6 Mbps (upstream) broadband.  The goal is for ubiquitous access (at those speeds) by 2015.

The next task force meeting is scheduled for January 10 at TIES. They will be  preparing their next report, which is intended lay the groundwork to help Minnesota  reach broadband goals by 2015.

Policy  Issues in the News
Policy issues, including broadband and telecommunications issues,  are emerging as the legislative season draws nearer. Industry and community  leaders are questioning the impact of the changes in the Universal Service  Funds (USF), while  Internet users, publishers and politicians are concerned about privacy online  (SOPA: Stop Online Privacy Act).

Policy analysts are taking a hard look at policy and the digital  divide, specifically as it relates to minorities as well looking at the roadblocks for adoption and deployment. Not surprisingly, it  often comes down to cost.

Local Broadband News

Carlton County
The  Carlton County Pine Journal follows the progress of the Northeast Service  Coop and their fiber construction.×7 NESC received ARRA funding to deploy fiber in the area.

Duluth  looks at tech sector growth in the area since vying to become the Google Gig community.

Fargo, ND
HickoryTech  has purchased IdeaOne, a company that provides data networking, Internet,  colocation, phone and hosting services in the Fargo area.

Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services connected its first  customer in Lakefield. SMBS received ARRA funding to deploy fiber in the area.

Taking advantage of local telecommunications infrastructure, the  City of Minneapolis and Minnesota Public Radio have created an audio MPR Sound  Point tour of Minneapolis Public Art.

New London
The West Central Tribune reports on a Business Blogging class held  in New London taught by the University of Minnesota Extension as part of the  local MIRC programming.×4

Upper Minnesota  Valley
Economic  Developer, Dawn Hegland speaks with Intelligent Community Forum’s Robert Bell  about MIRC’s progress in promoting broadband adoption in the Upper Minnesota  Valley Region. (Includes  video.)

West Central  Minnesota
Appleton Minnesota’s Pioneer TV created a mini-documentary on broadband in rural areas for a 12 minute segment for the PBS Need to Know  Series.

Red Wing
Minnesota Department for Employment and Economic Development  recently awarded a grant to Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical to  develop and provide training to Hiawatha Broadband Communications to deploy  broadband.


January  – Stats in Facebook: A Free Webinar

January  – Minnesota Broadband Task Force meets – (St Paul)

January  31 – Deadline for Broadband Video Contest – HickoryTech is accepting  entries for its My Life My Internet video contest.

February 24  – MACTA (Minnesota Association of Community Telecommunications  Administrators) Day at the  Capitol

February 28  – MTA (Minnesota Telecom Alliance) Day on the Hill

Looking  for more events? Check out TechDotMN’s calendar   Many events are based in the Twin Cities but it is a comprehensive list. (If  you have an upcoming event, consider submitting it.)

Looking  for local MIRC (Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities) events? Check the MIRC  Google calendar: or University of Minnesota Extension MIRC calendar

Stirring the Pot

Bill ColemanDoes your  community make New Year’s resolutions?  January is a great opportunity to  bring  people together to talk about goals and improvement.  The Intelligent  Community framework (focusing on: broadband, knowledge workers, innovation,  digital inclusion and marketing/advocacy) provides guidance for organizing and  implementing action.  Through our MN Intelligent Rural Community (MIRC) projects, I have observed that the most exciting projects are those that link across two  or more Intelligent Community elements.

For example, a  community may decide to improve public access to broadband and computers by  opening up school computer labs extended hours to all residents.  To  broaden the audience beyond those without computers or broadband Internet  access, the community could add a focus on math and science to create  knowledge workers by using community volunteers who use math and science – from  machinists to scientists – and by taking advantage of online resources â- from  Khan Academy to MIT. Potential positive  outcomes include more support for school technology investments, better linkage  between kids and local career opportunities, intergenerational learning and  linkages, better math and science test scores and a more Intelligent Community!   You could just as easily promote the arts through an approach like this.

A shared goal  across our demonstration communities is improved marketing – convincing both  residents and non-residents (prospective business owners and tourists) to stop,  stay and invest in the community.  The U of M Extension has done a  great job educating businesses how to promote themselves online.  In  today’s economy, everyone is essentially a small business – improving the  products through education, marketing themselves to gain income – through  employment on site or through telework, self-employment, or growing a business.   How can a community use online tools like eFolio Minnesota combined  with local web sites to showcase and market local talent – from kids to stay at  home parents to retirees? The inventory of talent would be eye-opening for both  locals and visitors!

Let us know what  your community resolutions are and how you plan to achieve your goals for  improvement.

Bill Coleman helps communities make the  connection between telecommunications and economic development.  As  principal in Community Technology Advisors for ten years, he assists community, foundation and corporate clients develop  and implement programs of broadband infrastructure investment and technology  promotion and training. Bill is working with the Blandin Foundation on the  MIRC Initiative,  Community Broadband Resource Program and other broadband projects.

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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