Blandin Broadband eNews Oct 2017: Broadband conference coming up

2017 Border to Border Broadband Conference – just weeks away!
Register today for the annual broadband conference October 25-26 at beautiful Madden’s on Gull Lake in Brainerd. Visit the conference webpage for more information, including a detailed event agenda and registration information. Get a sneak peek from a keynote speaker Roberto Gallardo and learn about his recent research that found that broadband can mean $1850 increase to a household annually. You won’t want to miss it!

Got a broadband tool to share?
Blandin Foundation is looking to collect tools, templates, instructions that would be useful to other communities as they try to get/use better broadband. If you have a tool to share please contact Ann Treacy

September MN Broadband Task Force Meeting: Recommendations
The MN Broadband Task Force has decided to do an abridged broadband report this year, focusing on legislative recommendations. Before the meeting began, the Task Force heard from rural representative with their suggestions for recommendations. They also learned about wireless connectivity. (They didn’t discuss Verizon’s plan to cut many rural areas. They did discuss the $50.3 million in broadband grant requests.

Funding for Broadband
How expensive is broadband? It depends on your bell shaped curve. The White House is planning to devote $200M per year to STEM grants.

Political views from candidates, elected officials and others…

  • Franken Convinces FCC to give American families and businesses more time to make voices heard about High-Speed Internet needs
  • Senator Klobuchar points out rural areas need broadband and everyone needs rural areas
  • Easiest way to declare ubiquitous broadband? Lower the goalpost. Quickest way to hurt rural areas? Lower the goalpost
  • Rep Johnson reminds citizens that Minnesota State’s cybersecurity
  • First Congressional District candidate Vicki Jensen promotes better broadband
  • Greater Minnesota Partnership applauds broadband investment

Local Broadband News

GO Next of Duluth wins the GigaZone Gaming Championship and more than $10,000 in cash and prizes over the 2 days through various tournaments and door prizes

Cannon Falls
HBC Services are now available in Cannon Falls

Ellington Township
Resident of Ellington Township redesigns her life based on when she can get online

Ely prepares for a feasibility study

Fond du Lac
Fond du Lac get $600,000 from HUD for Broadband

Fond du Lac Break ground on $8.2 million FTTH Project

NU-Telecom launches Hanska broadband project partly funded by a MN State grant

Kandiyohi County
Problems facing MN Broadband Grantees: What we can Learn from Kandiyohi County

Lanesboro celebrates Border to Border grant in Lanesboro with a Golden Shovel Party

A new resident explains that he wanted his kids to grow up in the country – but not without broadband. Without broadband in Makinen, he is looking to move.

Pipestone County
Feasibility study in Pipestone County finds wireless more affordable broadband option

Resilient Region (Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena Counties)
Resilient Region looks back at impact of being a Blandin Broadband Community

Renville and Sibley Counties
RS Fiber looks back at impact of being a Blandin Broadband Community

Sherburne County
Sherburne County, MN State and Palmer Wireless partner on project to extend broadband to businesses in St. Cloud area

Sherburne County, a look back at impact of being a Blandin Broadband Community

Upper Minnesota River Valley
Upper MN River Valley Counties talk about why they need broadband

Yellow Medicine County
Yellow Medicine County Board met to discuss their broadband plan – investment, grant applications and partners in a plan to being providing fiber service to the county.

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

My first thought as I write this column is to offer best wishes to the Office of Broadband Development staff as they review, rank and select projects for Border-to-Border grant funding.  Clearly the staff will be living in very interesting times over the next 90 days!  From the outside looking in, I am happy to be on the outside.

Over the past weeks, I have done a number of presentations to rural groups and individuals thinking about broadband.  The broadband grant eligibility map, with the large patches of unserved red areas, is always a great discussion starter.  The scope of the challenge seems overwhelming.  In contrast, most of the coverage maps supplied by the 2017 grant applicants document projects that cover very small areas – neighborhoods to townships.   The small coverage area exceptions are the wireless proposals.

Border-to-border is an ambitious goal.  One township at a time with wired services will take a long time.  The wired solution at least brings clarity as to which addresses receive service.  The wireless maps show seamless coverage, but I have heard from far too many rural residents that the wireless services “available” in their area cannot be used due to topography or tree cover.  The fiber projects promise Gigabit capabilities (some only on the download side) while the wireless projects commit to symmetrical 100 Mb services.

No matter how wise the choices of the Office of Broadband Development and the DEED leaders, we know that more than half the projects will not receive funding this year leaving communities and providers hoping for future funding.

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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