Kandiyohi Broadband and Advanced Technology Committee – Focusing on getting funding to get broadband

The Kandiyohi Broadband and Advanced Technology Committee meets monthly. I have been to several of their meetings. Like many groups, they are doing a great job moving forward with plans. Their next benchmark seems to be getting funding and getting started with a broadband feasibility study. They also do a great job of getting policymakers to come to the meeting – to learn more about what’s happening and get invested in the plan.

They were kind enough to share some of their notes with me – including a draft of their proposal to the Blandin Foundation for a feasibility study. I’m including it (and they are sharing it) with the intention that it will help other communities who are looking at better broadband.

I’ll include full notes below but I thought there were a couple of topics worth raising to the top. First a discussion of public investment in an interim broadband solution versus investment in long term solutions versus saving taxpayer money. It’s a hard look at how as a community leaders you make choices based on need and budget:

And a discussion on state versus federal funding and how to help policymakers and the public aware of the need for both in rural areas

Quick update on funding and recent broadband conference:

Feasibility study grant application from  Donn Winckler

Status of feasibility study

The county has committed $25,000 and Federated will add $12,500 and the request has gone into Blandin for $25,000. The grant application was sent in a day before due! The bids came in between $50,000 and $80,000. They are pleased with response.

There are RFP that we can use and we’ll want to get Federated’s perspective as they are partners.

We have made commitments for the board here, the county, everyone is getting invested. We will be breaking into committees to support the feasibility study. Thinking that there’s a role for the committee to play in marketing and market research.

New Business – 2015 state broadband grant funding from Connie Schmoll

Learned a lot about options and funding from the recent Blandin Broadband conference. People were asking why Kandiyohi didn’t apply based on the recent awards. Kandiyohi is waiting for the right time to apply. Kandiyohi was well represented – in terms of projects such as the recent Hack Fest and the WORKUP coworking space. And out networking, especially in terms of policymakers getting looped into the process and needs.

Coops have an interest broadband. They’re rural, hindering by lack of broadband and interested in smartgrid options.

At the conference – we got maps that showed that Kandiyohi is unserved. That is very helpful.

We spoke with Klobuchar about the CAF – and who can get it. She is aware of the inherent problems. One problem is that the federal funding is loans, not grants. It’s hard to get a handle on what’s available and we need providers who are willing to look at it. We need to talk about how to change the impression of what’s being done.

Is there a way to get federal funding to the smaller providers such as Federated instead of the bigger providers? That might better suit Kandiyohi.

Hack Update

Both the Yellow Bikes and Invasive Aquatic Species apps are interested in pursuing funds to continue the efforts. The funding (from EDA) will go to agencies – the money may trickle down to local coders.

Wireless Spots

Wireless is being installed on buses and in local schools

MVTV Wireless

MVTV is looking at installing 10-12 hotspots for a cost of $1250 each but that is for equipment and labor only. The plan is to provider two years of free access from each spot. They hotspot speed would be 5Mbps. It would serve 10-12 moderate users – and the reach is about 1 mile from hotspot.

MVTV Wireless got Blandin money to serve Nobles County. It would help us get broadband out to more people. It would be a nice way to continue to support our efforts. Unfortunately they are unable to serve our least served areas – because there are technical issues – such as distance to tower and live of sight.

As a taxpayer – I wonder if we want to spend more money on broadband. Not a statement on the utility of broadband just thinking like a taxpayer. It’s not that we don’t want or need – it’s just how will we pay for it. It will help with market research. It also helps to build sophisticate use over time. It helps build a business case. As a tax payer, I could see funding this if there was a real need.

The board decided to recommend moving forward with MVTV Wireless.

We arranged for Rep Tm Miller to talk to us and learn more about our efforts.

Star Tribune interview update from Connie Schmoll
There will be article in the next few Sunday papers. Lori Sturdyvent was out to talk to people on the difference between metro/rural needs and broadband.

Creating a Public Face for the Committee

Let’s build a web page for the committee – we can put info – like our modified version of the broadband vision. Let people know what we’re doing and get folks interested.

The hardest piece of community broadband is getting the community to understand technology and policy.

This entry was posted in Building Broadband Tools, Conferences, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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