Blandin Broadband eNews Aug 2017: Broadband grant update and upcoming confernece

A recap of news from July…

2017 Border to Border Broadband Conference
Mark your calendar for the fall broadband conference October 25-26 at Madden’s in Gull Lake. Get a sneak peek from a keynote speaker

Determining Community ROI of Broadband Network
Blandin Foundation is working to try to determine the community ROI for better broadband. Have you saved or earned more money with your broadband connection? Please tell your story.

Minnesotans Getting Nods for Broadband Work
Danna MacKenzie receives the 2017 Community Broadband Hero of the Year Award from the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Administrators. Paul Bunyan CEO Paul Johnson’s TEDx talk on rural broadband is getting watched. And Minnesota is held up as an example of good broadband policy to other states.

MN Task Force July meeting focuses on Telehealth
MN Broadband Task Force met at the new Essentia Hospital in Sandstone. They learned about the benefits of telehealth and impact of a hospital that is updated and has a good broadband connection. (SDN posted notes on their presentation to the July Task Force meeting.

Minnesota Broadband Provider News
TDS expands service in Minnesota using federal funds. Speeds for expansion range from 25Mbps down and 3 Mbps up (25/3) to 4/1. Minnesota attorney general sues CenturyLink over billing issues. MVTV Wireless is offering faster speeds with their fixed wireless connections.

Federal Broadband Action and National News

Local Broadband News

Strut Your Stuff Tour visits in Aitkin County to learn about tech community centers, wifi hotspots, community portal and other projects supported with Blandin Foundation grants

Bois Forte/Cook/Orr
Strut Your Stuff Tour visits the “Grizzlies” community in Orr to learn about digital inclusion training, tech equipment, wifi for checkout and other projects supported with Blandin Foundation grants

Strut Your Stuff Broadband Tour visits Ely to learn about community portal, feasibility study, distributing computers to low income households and other projects supported with Blandin Foundation grants

Strut Your Stuff Broadband Tour visits Chisholm MN to learn about community wifi hotspots, feasibility study, hotspots to check out and other projects supported with Blandin Foundation grants

Fillmore County
Fillmore County creates a Broadband Development Fund

Strut Your Stuff Broadband Tour visits Hibbing to learn about e-business training, wifi hotspots, feasibility study and other projects supported with Blandin Foundation grants

Kandiyohi County
Broadband project in Kandiyohi County in precarious position

Kandiyohi County residents are putting their hands up for fiber

Rep Dave Baker implores Kandiyohi County residents to sign up for broadband

Friday (Jul 21) is the deadline for Kandiyohi County community network resident buy-in

Lake County
Blandin recognizes Lake County’s courage to expand broadband

How do we define success of a community network? Is Lake County a model or cautionary tale?

Nobles County
Nobles County broadband project breaks ground

Local reporters need broadband to get the story uploaded

Pope County
Pope County gets results of broadband feasibility study including fiber wireless hybrid option

Pope County wants to grow and broadband is part of the equation

Kids are learning to code through a Project FINE program in Winona

Upcoming 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 Pot

A short time ago, I heard Andrew Cohill of Design Nine ( describe the “broadband crisis” faced by communities poorly served with broadband.  The intensity of the truth in that statement is illuminated as I listen to rural residents describe their daily broadband challenges caused by some variable combination of availability, price, reliability, data caps and other service limitations.  Rural people of all ages, incomes and education levels are increasingly stymied as they try to live complete lives.

Many communities have high hopes on their in-process applications to the Border-to-Border Grant Program.  We will soon know how many grant applicants will be chasing the available $20 million, most likely totaling many times more requests than dollars. While some communities with established provider partners have only to assemble the details of the application by September 30, other communities face the difficult task of securing a provider to be a real community partner.  An application without an identified provider partner will not go far; taking all of the legal steps to become a public sector provider is even more daunting legal and political process.

As difficult as it is to find a partner, a community should still be very careful!  I would want a provider partner that was committed to deploying technology that is affordably, not just technically, scalable to achieve the 2026 state broadband goal and beyond.  I would want a commitment to achieve ubiquity in the project area and not leave some residents permanently un- or underserved.  Finally, I would want a partner that I could trust to provide their best efforts without having to reach into the file to confirm and enforce legal agreements on a regular basis.

Good luck to all in the pursuit of better broadband!  The future of your community is at stake.

This entry was posted in Blandin Foundation, MN 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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