Blandin eNews: September 2014

BBC MapNews from the Blandin on Broadband Blog

Blandin Broadband Communities: An Opportunity

Building on the successes of MIRC and BBC community broadband engagement projects, Blandin Foundation is seeking up to ten new communities for the 2015-16 cohort of Blandin Broadband Communities. Applications will be accepted through October 17, 2014. Learn more from an archive of a recent webinar on the topic:

Blandin Foundation Announces Broadband Awards

Blandin Foundation announces six grant awards totaling $123,190 that assist rural Minnesota communities in advancing high-speed Internet access and use in their communities Awards include the following:

Office of Broadband Development Funds

Throughout the summer, the Office of Broadband Development has been touring Minnesota to talk about the upcoming opportunity for community funding to build better broadband. The RFP should be out in September. Everyone is encouraged to apply in part to demonstrate the needs and enthusiasm for projects for the Legislature. Learn more about the opportunity:

Minnesota Broadband Doesn’t Rank

Akamai has been surveying broadband use and speed internationally for seven years. Back in 2010, Minnesota showed up as #10 for average measured connected speed by US state and St Paul was one of the top US cities for broadband speeds. Minnesota does not show up at all in the latest report, which means MN is not in the top 10 states; Minnesota cities are also not in the top 10.

How are libraries doing with broadband?

The American Library Association recently released a report on broadband in the libraries. Libraries are a place where patrons go to get access and learn how to use technology – but not all libraries are created equal. The report shows an average subscribed download speed of more than 100Mbps, compared to an average subscribed download speed of just over 21Mbps for rural public libraries. The situation on reservations is even worse. Another recent survey indicates that between 40-89 percent of tribal libraries don’t have broadband. Part of the problem may be that only 15 percent of the tribal libraries surveyed took advantage of E-Rate discounts.

Looking at Statistics, Broadband and Maps in Minnesota

Here are observations based on the Center for Rural Policy and Development’s State of Rural Minnesota 2014 presentation and Connect Minnesota broadband maps

  • The Western border of MN had experienced population decline in the last 25 years. The broadband in those areas is pretty good. The population is expecting to grow in the next 20 years.
  • The areas with the lowest median income also have poor broadband speeds.
  • The Twin Cities has some of the highest incomes and fastest broadband speeds.

Minnesota Gets Almost $4 Million for E-Health

Minnesota’s State Innovation Model initiative awarded $3.8 million in grants to help 12 community collaboratives use e-health to promote health and improve care coordination. These grants will enable providers across different health care settings to have access to the information they need to coordinate care and keep people healthy and out of the hospital.

Several Minnesota Connections Make Top FTTH Stars List

Broadband Communities make list of top FTTH stars. The Blandin Foundation was pleased to make the list again, as did many other organizations with Minnesota connections: 3M, Baller Herbst Law Group PC, Calix, CenturyLink, Finley Engineering, Hiawatha Broadband Communications, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, KGP Logistics, MasTec, Pace International and Suttle.

Senator Schmit Recognized for Broadband Advocacy

Senator Matt Schmit was named a “Legislator of Distinction” by the League of Minnesota Cities for his work promoting the expansion of broadband Internet connectivity to rural areas that lack access and, specifically, for introducing legislation that created a fund to promote investment in new broadband infrastructure throughout the state. Senator Schmit was one of 12 senators to receive the award.

Broadband News Around Minnesota

Barnesville and Rollag

The Red River Rural Telephone Association is receiving an $8.5 million USDA loan to construct 145 miles of buried fiber optic cable in North Dakota areas and in Barnesville and Rollag in Minnesota. The project will complete Red River’s fiber-to-the-premises network.


The City of Barnesville has owned the phone system for over 100 years. They are investing $3.8 million in a Fiber to the Premise (FTTP) project.

Cass and Crow Wing Counties

ARRA-funded projects in parts of Cass and Crow Wing counties is complete. The project included installing nearly 100 miles of fiber optics cabling and twenty cabinets in order to connect more than 900 area residents to broadband.

Goodhue County

Goodhue County Education District is using about $50,000 from the Blandin Foundation to provide teachers with online access to professional development.

Itasca County

The Blandin Foundation is working with Itasca County to assess and survey broadband opportunities using a tool from COS Business Engine.

Kanabec County

Kanabec County celebrated their progress with broadband through the Blandin Broadband Communities program. Projects include community interactive video, business training hotspots and more.

Ramsey County

The Ramsey County Board recently voted 6-1 to approve a five-year agreement with Comcast to provide high-speed broadband communications between government buildings.

Twin Cities

Currently 8000 households in the Twin Cities take advantage of Comcast Internet Essentials (reduced Internet rates for low income households).

Broadband Opportunities:

Sep 2: Applications due for individuals interested in the Grants Specialist Coordinator for the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development

Sep 9: Deadline for Digital Cities Survey Award Application

Sep 12-14 Hack4Good #6 (various locations)

Sep 25: Proposals are due for Vendors interested in Community Technology Survey in Minneapolis

Oct 14: Applications are due for the FCC Rural Broadband Experiments program Learn more from a recent webinar archive

Oct 17: Blandin Foundation BBC Community applications are due


Sep 2: BBC Strut Your Stuff Tour (Southwest MN Broadband)

Sep 2-4: FTTH Council Regional Conference (Minneapolis)

Sep 4: NTIA’s Building a Community Broadband Roadmap Workshop (Minneapolis)

Sep 9: BBC Strut Your Stuff Tour (Lake of the Woods County)

Sep 10: BBC Strut Your Stuff Tour (Lake County)

Sep 10: Teens, Technology and Social Media (Free Webinar)

Sep 18: BBC Strut Your Stuff Tour (Lac qui Parle Valley)

Sep 25 – Minnesota Broadband Task Force Monthly Meeting

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.)

Bill_ColemanStirring the Pot

Over the past two weeks and in the near term future, our Blandin team gets the pleasure of hearing our Blandin Broadband Communities’ teams “Strut Their Stuff.”  These presentations are a chance for them to reflect and report on their activities of the past twenty months.  From team formation, planning, project development and implementation, they all have great stories to tell and results to show.  A common phrase that we love to hear “We are not done yet!”  The accomplishment list and the to-do list seem to grow in tandem, possibly with the to-do lists growing a bit faster as the communities see an expanding list of possibilities.  These teams are implementing projects that have real impact on their communities with both old and new leadership.  When one person is given accolades, their response is to always point to others who deserve the credit.  The Blandin on Broadband Blog has been reporting on these meetings so I encourage you to check out the details on their accomplishments.

Our Blandin team looks forward to even more fun in the upcoming months; that is, selecting our new Blandin Broadband Communities.  We hope that it is a difficult task to choose among many communities that are ready to pursue this type of initiative.  Your community could be a city, a county, a tribe, a region, a telecom provider service area – whatever makes sense to you and your team.  Be ready to make a commitment to making things happen.  With a quick organizational and planning phase, our Blandin Broadband Communities quickly move into project development, funding and implementation.  One extremely positive aspect of the work that our communities have accomplished is silo-busting.  Even in smaller communities, our BBC’s are partnering in new and exciting ways with organizations down the street and across the state.

For our BBC and MIRC alumni, we will be expanding opportunities to continue in partnership. I am very much looking forward to that!

More program and application details are included in this newsletter and online so check out the details there.


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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