Blandin Broadband eNews: Funding streams for broadband

News from the Blandin on Broadband BlogBBC Map

Minnesota Broadband Funds
The 2015 Minnesota Border to Border Infrastructure Grant Program application is now available. Applications are due by 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 15, 2015. Good luck!

Government Funding for Broadband
Next Century Cities has created a primer on how government (from federal to local) can support better broadband networks. Government demonstrates support both through deployment of infrastructure and by creating an avenue to fund use, such as supporting telemedicine. Yet not everyone is impressed with how funding happens. The RUS garnered unwanted attention for practices managing ARRA and other federal funds for broadband.

Broadband Applications in Minnesota

  • St Paul-based, GovDelivery has acquired Textizen, a Philadelphia-based startup that lets government agencies communicate with the public through text messaging.
  • The University of Minnesota is looking at drones for precision agriculture. Drones allow farmers to tailor the amount of fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides they use.
  • Minnesota cooperatives share a list of customer use of broadband
  • Surveys show that 60 percent of nonprofits offer at least some portion of services online.

New Minnesota Broadband Maps are Out
The Office of Broadband Development unveiled the latest Minnesota broadband maps at the monthly Broadband Task Force meeting. The new maps are different in that they use the federal definition of broadband for the unserved areas (25/3M). Also the new federal definitions make it easier for providers to stick to the 10/5M Minnesota definition of broadband rather than older 10/6M federal definition. Fewer providers participated than in previous surveys. These changes result in different county ranking for broadband access.

Minnesota Broadband Task Force July Meeting
The Task Force met in Brainerd for the July meeting. CTC hosted and spoke about their partnerships with the community and how that helps expand broadband.

Broadband as a Utility
The discussion around broadband as a utility continues. MinnPost determined broadband was “no longer a luxury” after talking to rural businesses about their needs. The Tri-State Neighbor calls it the “new utility of our day and age” while reporting Rural Broadband Day at Farmfest.

Digital Divide is an Economic Issue
The White House released information on the digital divide that indicates that the digital divide looks less like one of urban and rural and more like one of economy.

Broadband News Around Minnesota

Fond du Lac Reservation
The Fond du Lac Reservation is awarded a $3 million from the USDA to deploy better broadband to 1,200 more households in the area.  The band will contribute $2.2 million to the project.

New Prague
BEVCOMM announces Gigabit Internet service in New Prague, MN.

Sherburne County
Working through Workforce Center in Monticello, Sherburne County organizations and individuals received 50 computers from PCs for People.

Sherband is a local effort to promote better broadband in Sherburne County; they have started with a website and Facebook page.

Sibley & Renville Counties
The RS Fiber Cooperative fiber optic broadband initiative broke ground on their fiber project on July 8 in Sibley County.

Swift County
Federated Telephone and theUpper Minnesota Regional Development Commission (RDC) in Appleton, will again be seeking Minnesota Broadband Fund grants and asking for county backing.

Events & Opportunities:

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

The new broadband maps published by the DEED Office of Broadband Development are like a step back in time.  More of Minnesota is considered “unserved” now than previously, breaking a trend that consistently had more Minnesotans covered by adequate broadband over time.  Providers certainly did not shut down services, so what happened?

The FCC defines broadband as 25 MBPS download and 3 MBPS upload, way up from the previous 4/1 standard.  Years ago, the original MN broadband task force set a standard of 10/5.  At the time, that standard was considered reasonable, but challenging.  It is interesting that the FCC standard is 2.5 times the state standard for download, but the state upload standard is almost double the FCC upload standard.

The state broadband task force will be reviewing the state standard this year.  Should the adopt the FCC standard?  Is a step back from the download speed the right direction?  What would be the impact of a 25/10 standard?  What are the cost implications for providers to reach the standard?

Finally, what is going to happen with the CAF2 funding?  Providers will be required to meet a 10/1 standard with those funds.  I hope that someone at the FCC sees the inconsistency of providing funding that does not meet their own broadband standard.

Standards and policies matter!  Let the decision makers and task force members know  how you feel about these standards.

This entry was posted in uncategorized 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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