Blandin Broadband e-News November 2015: Upcoming conference, cooperative and policymakers talk broadband

News from the Blandin on Broadband Blog – a recap from the last monthBBC Map

Minnesota Broadband Conference November 18-20
The Blandin Foundation and the Office of Broadband Development invite you to the fall broadband conference, Better Together, to be held in Minneapolis on November 18-20.

Growing the Cooperative Broadband Movement in Minnesota
Cooperatives have the management, financial and physical assets to be successful in areas in where commercial providers cannot make a business case to provide broadband. Many local governments have found cooperatives to be  their best choice for equitable public-private partnerships.

Minnesota Broadband Task Force Talks Speeds
The Task Force met this month to learn more about libraries and the roles that libraries play in encouraging broadband use in the community. They also held a heated discussion on future speeds goals for Minnesota: suggestions ranged from Gig access to 25 Mbps down and 3 up (which is the FCC definition) to remaining the same at 10 Mbps down and 5 up.

Elected Officials Talk Broadband in Minnesota
Both sides of the political fence are talking about broadband and the need to invest more money and invest wisely. Representatives Baker and Daudt met with stakeholders in Willmar to talk about the need for better broadband for business outside the city limits. Rural Stakeholders are getting into the game too as the Greater Minnesota Partnership lists broadband one of their top 8 legislative concerns.

Federal Broadband Policy Issues
U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Steve Daines and Cory Gardner introduced bipartisan legislation to expand broadband infrastructure by cutting red tape to install broadband infrastructure on federal land and promoting Dig Once policies. While Senator Al Franken (with Senator Markey) is leading a pack of Democrats to make sure that changes in budget procedures don’t dampen Net Neutrality rules.

Finding Broadband Funding
NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) recently released a report that details federal funding options for broadband expansion.

Broadband News Around Minnesota

Unserved areas of Minnesota take all forms; some are quite well off.

PC4P Youth Project in Brainerd features at risk youth working to refurbish and distribute PCs.

Grand Rapids
3,300 Grand Rapids locations get Gig access from Paul Bunyan Communications

Bad broadband is getting in the way of parents volunteering for youth hockey in Northern Minnesota.

Mille Lacs County
Mille Lacs County feasibility study: textbook case of haves and have-nots.

Park Rapids
400 Locations in Rural Park Rapids Gain Access to Broadband from Paul Bunyan.

Renville & Sibley Counties
Cooperatives are poised to increase broadband, as seen in Renville and Sibley Counties.

Ripley Township
Consolidated Telecom meets the need of an unserved rural resident in need.

Gigabit Minnesota expands Fiber Network to 250 New Homes in Rosemount.

Twin Cities
Low Income households in danger of losing low cost Internet options.

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

Our Blandin Broadband Communities have about a month left to craft their second year proposals to Blandin Foundation for funding.  Each community is budgeting about $35,000 in requests.  It is always interesting to see how the communities approach this task – recruiting community organizations to bring forth project ideas that will improve broadband access and adoption, getting those same organizations to provide their own commitment of match and sustained effort, and then, as a group, prioritizing and allocating funds among the competing projects.  It is fun to work with the group to encourage cross-organization collaboration so that projects become stronger and have greater impact.  Sometimes that can get a little uncomfortable when organizations start talking about collaborating for the first time or in new ways.  Everyone has their own rules, procedures, goals, timelines, service areas, etc.

It is easy for prospective partners to say no.  We hear phrases like… ”We tried that before.”  “We have never done it that way before.”  “I think that there are rules against that.”   It is amazing how a little bit of funding can help people get over these sometime very small barriers. Or the positive power of peer pressure from the BBC leadership group on the individual community organizations.  In a group setting, no one wants to be seen as the organization holding back a good project.

The Blandin Broadband Communities program provides a great process and funding for rural communities to create a team, set goals and implement projects.  It always seems that the funding, while nice, is just a reward for participation in the broader process and that most of the ideas proposed could be funded with local resources.  So, even if your community is not a BBC, contact us to see how we could help jumpstart broadband access and adoption efforts in your community.

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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