Blandin Broadband e-News July 2014

BBC MapNews from the Blandin on Broadband Blog

Minnesota Won’t Make 2015 Broadband Goals
Julio Ojeda- Zapata declared in the St Paul Pioneer Press that Minnesota will not reach the 2015 broadband goals of ubiquitous broadband with speeds of 10-20 Mbps downstream and 5-10 Mbps up. The Minnesota Broadband Task Force said as much in their latest report, but getting attention in mainstream press always makes a splash.

Minnesota Poised to Take Advantage of Broadband Opportunities
Minnesota communities are talking about broadband. Senator Schmit visited nine towns throughout Minnesota to talk about broadband and the recently approved broadband development fund. He had 10-30 attendees at each session. Community leaders and stakeholders are showing innovation too. The FCC recently requested recommendations for Rural Broadband Experiments. Minnesota sent in more than 62 ideas out of 1000 sent throughout the US. It’s a good sign that Minnesota is shovel-ready and poised to deploy. It’s a bad sign that Minnesota still needs better broadband.

Broadband Task Force Learns about Real Cost of Rural Broadband
The Broadband Task Force heard from local providers about Gigabit access in Minnesota communities. During the meeting urban and rural providers outlined the differences in their markets and expenses – starting with the fact that the Gigabit access to a backbone provider costs 50 cents a month in Minneapolis, a dollar in Red Wing and $10,000-20,000 in Thief River Falls.

President Clinton offers advice that could help broadband
President Clinton spoke at the University of Minnesota. He offered advice for a more civil society, but the advice could also support broadband efforts in a community:

  • Focus on similarities.
  • If you want great impact, give aid to the bottom of the economic pyramid.
  • Strive to form a more perfect union.
  • Trust.
  • Big business needs goals beyond the shareholders.

Funding Opportunities for Communities looking at Broadband

  • The details for the Minnesota Broadband Development Fund are being decided this summer. Danna MacKenzie, Director of the Office of Broadband Development, will speak via webinar on progress of the grant process on July 10.
  • The USDA announces the availability of three funding opportunities: Community Connect, Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT), and Public Television Station Digital Transition Grant Programs. Deadline for all three is July 7.
  • AT&T is committing $100 million to award off-campus mobile broadband access to 50,000 students across the country. Connected Nation is administering the funds.

The Minnesota Judicial Branch is accepting applications for court technology funds. Deadline is August 11.

Local Broadband News

Senator Schmit stops in Aitkin as part of his broadband tour where providers and other stakeholders discussed issues including cost of developing services in unserved areas.

Senator Schmit stops in Aitkin as part of his broadband tour and hears about serious broadband outages experienced in the area.

Central Minnesota
The Initiative Foundation highlights local businesses that thrive due to smart use of broadband technology, including stories from businesses in Pierz, Menahga, St. Joseph, Little Falls and Mann Lake.

Project Lulu, based out of Duluth, creates an online opportunities that combine private journaling with community. They are currently being used to support and foster good health.

DataBank, which operates data co-location facilities in Edina, Dallas and Kansas City, Mo., plans to turn the Taystee Foods building in Eagan into a data center to serve the region.

CenturyLink sends out notices of beta testing of Gigabit access in Eagan.

Minneapolis co-working company CoCo has announced that they are launching a CoCo Fargo location, in partnership with Emerging Prairie.

Minnetonka mall upgrades Wi-Fi access to accommodate for growing need from patrons.

Senator Schmit stops in Mora during his broadband talking tour. Attendees have very specific questions about the broadband development fund.

St. PaulSaint Paul Public Schools announces a new summer-program texting service for parents looking to find activities for their kids while school is out.

Senator Schmit stops in Staples during his broadband talking tour. Attendees have concerns about accuracy of Connect Minnesota maps.

Twin Cities
Metro State is starting an IT residency or apprentice prorgam.

Google selected the University of Minnesota’s MARS Lab as its primary academic partner for Project Tango, a high-profile indoor mapping initiative that has been compared to Google Maps.

Change Lane, a startup that lets consumers order at-home oil changes via the Web, has raised about $1.2 million in capital as it prepares to test-drive its service in Wayzata.

Senator Schmit completes his broadband talking tour with a full house in Willmar.


Blandin Community Broadband Program webinar: MN Office of Broadband Development Update on Funding

MN Broadband Task Force Meeting (location TBD)

Farm Fest (Redwood County)

Stirring the PotBill_Coleman

By Bill Coleman, Community Technology Advisors

As my annual physical approaches, I can already hear my doctor proscribing “Less beer, more fiber.” I am already working on the second part of that advice, the first not so much. In turn, I will give the same advice to our Twin Cities leaders, again with the emphasis  on the second half.

Minneapolis and St. Paul are both experiencing significant redevelopment in their urban cores. In Minneapolis, it is widespread throughout the North Loop, Dinkytown, Vikingsville and Uptown. In St. Paul, the Central Corridor is undergoing rapid redevelopment. There is a continuous flow of press releases about new breweries in these neighborhoods attracting young newcomers and relocating baby boomers to enjoy the beer and bicycle urban lifestyle.

I wish I was hearing more about fiber connections in these new communities. With individual buildings containing hundreds of apartments and neighborhoods totaling thousands of new units; these developments are larger than many rural communities. With these demographics, providers have no need to educate hipster consumers on the benefits of broadband. With proximity to the downtowns and the U of M, I assume that dark fiber is readily available. With a billion dollars spent on the Central Corridor light rail, I hope that someone put some fiber and spare conduits in the ground along the route.

With a minimum of discussion and cost, city leaders could be ensuring that these new units are fiber-connected by either enacting ordinances like Loma Linda California or by simply strongly encouraging the developers, Comcast, CenturyLink or a competitive provider to install and market these fiber connected buildings. With a bit of planning, tenants in these buildings could have secure network connections to the U of M and any of the large and small companies in downtown and elsewhere.

It is possible that these buildings are appropriately fibered-up and these ultra-high speed connections are offered with as much notice as basic amenities like water and heat, but I do not think so. If fiber is being installed in these developments, then Twin Cities marketers like Mayor’s Offices and Greater MSP, are missing out on opportunities to build our brand as a place for competitive economic development and quality of life.

Back to my physical… I recognize that there is nothing that I can do today to change what my doctor will find later this week. Likewise if a business came to many towns today wanting fiber, there would be no simple and affordable solution. So, I want to recognize Eagan for its long term broadband lifestyle – convening their key technology stakeholders, installing conduit and fiber, working with broadband providers. They created and pursued strategies which emerged from a technology plan completed almost a decade ago. Congratulations to Mayor Mike Maguire and staff members Tom Garrison and Jon Hohenstein for their commitment and efforts. As a result, they have AccessEagan, a community-owned open-access fiber and conduit network that is used by multiple private carriers to provide highly competitive fiber connections to their primary business parks. Building on this infrastructure, they have just announced the imminent development of a telecom hotel/data center, also a long-term goal and a tremendous benefit to the entire metro region. And to show that Eagan is not only all about fiber, the city council has just revised ordinances to enable development of craft breweries, taprooms and distilleries!”

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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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