Blandin eNews November 2014

BBC MapNews from the Blandin on Broadband Blog

Border to Border Broadband: No Community Left Behind Nov 18-19
The Fall broadband conference provides a great opportunity to meet and learn from people in Minnesota communities that enjoy border to border broadband, some that have been working on it and others that are just starting to stir local excitement for it. The conference happens November 18-19 at Cragun’s in Brainerd.

Sneak Preview at MN Broadband Task Force Report
The Minnesota Broadband Task Force met to hammer out a penultimate version of the annual report, which they have made available to the public. Highlights include recommendations for $200 million in future broadband deployment funding. The Office of Broadband Development introduced new staff (Jane Leonard) and announced that they received 40 applications for the Minnesota Broadband Fund.

Broadband and the Elections
Depending on when you read this – the election results may be a forgone conclusion. No matter who wins, it was interesting to see how often broadband came up and the bipartisan support it received – even if plans for the funding mechanism differed.

Six Reasons Broadband is Expensive in the US
OpenWide Networks recently released a report on why broadband connectivity in the US is slow and expensive. Blandin on Broadband looks at how we can turn that around.

Libraries Transform to Meet the Needs of Community
The Aspen Institute published a report on the ways libraries are transforming to help patrons access and better use technology. (This topic will also be discussed at the Fall Broadband Conference.)

Research on Non-Adopters
McKinsey & Company recently released a report that provides a look at broadband adoption from a worldwide perspective. They found that without a significant change in technology, in income growth or in the economics of access, or policies to spur Internet adoption, the rate of growth will continue to slow – especially in rural areas. Pew also released a report on non-adopters reporting that 15% of American adults do not use the internet at all. As much as 92 percent of those not online were not interested in going online; 63 percent said they would need assistance getting online.

Broadband News Around Minnesota

A network of hundreds of new low-power, short-range antennas are in place throughout downtown Rochester’s underground walkway system to prevent dropped calls and speed up the wireless Internet for Mayo Clinic staff.

Lake County
Lake County high school students are working with Lake County seniors to help them get connected with training and tech support. The program has been very successful.

Western MN
A group of stakeholders gathered in Appleton, MN to discuss broadband. Hot topics include: the increased general appeal of broadband in the community (not just for geeks anymore), the focus has broadened from city, to county, to region and the public sector is wondering what their role is.

Winthrop is one of 32 cities named as participant in the Next Century Cities program, a bipartisan, city-to-city initiative dedicated to ensuring the availability of next-generation broadband Internet for all communities.


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.)

Stirring the PotBill_Coleman

This morning, I saw a picture of one of the famous Wallenda family crossing between Chicago skyscrapers.  So routine was the crossing that Nik Wallenda wore a blindfold.  One of the crossings was downhill at a steep 15% grade.  Obviously that shows great talent and lots of repetitive practice. Even so, the Wallenda’s have had disastrous events in their history.

Many communities and broadband providers are now out on the wire of public-private partnerships.  Available funding from the FCC and MN DEED have pushed both providers and communities out onto the wire in relatively large numbers for the first time.  It remains to be seen of the program rules and regulations will be safety nets to prevent disaster or tall barriers blocking otherwise safe implementation.   I expect that these first rounds of funding will give us examples of the full range of partnership experience, from smooth stepping to swaying in the wind to severe difficulties.  I give a lot of credit to all of the prospective partners for their courage and determination to move ahead on these projects!

We will learn about some of these partnerships at the Border to Border Conference!  Attending and learning will give participants to a bit of a safety net as you consider your own partnerships!

This entry was posted in Blandin Foundation 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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