MTA Conference: RUS Funding, e911 and FirstNet

This week I’m attending the Minnesota Telecom Alliance Spring conference. Yesterday I learned about the Internet of Everything and Net Neutrality regulations. Today I learned about RUS funding, e911 and FirstNet in Minnesota…

RUS Update


What is available today:

  • All 104 PSAPS are connected to ESINet – that’s the backbone (via MNIT)
  • Select routing for all wireline and wireless and VoIP calls
  • All 911 transfers MN PSAPS include ANI/ALI
  • Exploring interoperability with other states (WI & SD-IA)

Next initiatives:

  • Deploy text to 911 solution (Q4 2015)
  • Migrate to geospatial call routing and NG 911 (Q1 2018)
  • Re-homing of all MN telecom carriers 911 network from the 12 legacy selective routers to alternative

Text to 911 benefits

  • Benefits hard of hearing
  • Works where voice networks are congested
  • When voice call would endanger caller
  • BUT text is a compliment NOT a substitute

Limitations of text to 911

  • Location accuracy limitations (getting tower site is limit now)
  • Speed in exchanging information

GIS for 911

  • Today’s e911 is based on phone number
  • Location of calling device


More than 3M calls per year traverse the next generation network

  • Nearly 80% of calls are wireless
  • 5.4M population served


  • Next Gen could emerge as soon as 5 years – at least in terms of call routing.
  • The 911 fee will increase to pay for increased services. At least in MN the existing fees are not going back into general fund. They are going back to 911 services.

FirstNet –

What is televate? Telecom consulting firm that is planning for FirstNet in MN

What are we doing in terms of FIrstNet now?

  • Consulting with FIrstNet – MN is preparing by gathering statewide needs and expectations
  • Waiting for RFP
  • FIrstnet will present plan to Governor
  • MN can opt in or opt out

Why is ECN supportive of FirstNet? Before Feb 2012 we researched a similar effort in the state. We need at least 150 towers to get good coverage in the state. (That as well as existing state and local government assets.) And we would also need to keep everything up-to-date. FirstNet sounds like a better, more practical option.


  • Creating an RFI
  • Surveying

Coverage Assessments – helpful to digital inclusion crowd

As part of the process of looking at FIrstNet, they survey coverage.

Tribal governance is an issues because the state can’t negotiate on behalf of tribal communities. Many are involved with regional radio boards. Looking for ways to get more involvement. It’s really based now on whether they are involved with ARMER network. Tribal area are not as well served and FirstNet can bring opportunities.

Lessons Learned:

  • Branding & messaging are essential
  • Never underestimate the stakeholder community
  • Next overestimate the stakeholder community (this is techie stuff)
  • Communication with stakeholders is extremely labor-intensive
  • Tribal outreach is challenging
  • Good coverage assessments require many inputs
  • Give your stakeholders homework
  • Share with your peers.


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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.

1 thought on “MTA Conference: RUS Funding, e911 and FirstNet

  1. Yesterday sounds a LOT more interesting than today! Thanks for being there!

    Bernadine Joselyn | Director, Public Policy & Engagement
    218-327-8728 direct phone | 218-259-2962 cell phone
    Blandin Foundation | 100 North Pokegama Avenue | Grand Rapids MN 55744
    877-882-2257 | | @BlandinFound

    “The Good is, like Nature, an immense landscape in which
    man advances through centuries of exploration.”
    ~ Jose Ortega y Gasset

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