Blandin Broadband eNews: Federal and MN policymakers on broadband

Reminder: Blandin Foundation Seeking New Blandin Broadband Communities
Blandin Foundation is now accepting applications for its Blandin Broadband Communities program, which supports rural community efforts to improve both access to and use of broadband that enhance community vitality. Selected communities will participate as a cohort with other Minnesota communities over a 24-month period, will have access to up to $75,000 in project grant funds and will receive priority for up to $25,000 in grant funds from the Foundation’s Robust Network Feasibility Fund program.  Applications are due May 31.

Take Our Digital Readiness Survey, Please
Communities across Minnesota rely on high-speed Internet access to compete in today’s economy, yet critical gaps exist. Rural Minnesotans have an opportunity to help identify those digital inclusion gaps through the Digital Readiness Survey, offered by the Purdue Center for Regional Development and supported by Blandin Foundation and Growth & Justice.

FirstNet Brings Expands Minnesota’s Public Safety Communications
Additional coverage and capacity is coming to Minnesota’s first responders with the deployment of FirstNet’s public safety spectrum, called Band 14. FirstNet is the country’s first nationwide public safety communications platform dedicated to first responders when they need it.

MN Task Force talks about FirstNet and Internet of Things
The Task Force learned about FirstNet and the Internet of Things (IoT) and the need for better broadband throughout the state to take advantage of improved safety communication and IoT. Most IoT applications require narrowband access – but narrowband access requires the back haul of broadband. They also talked about their final report. There was some discussion to create a roadmap to lead Minnesota to successfully accomplish the 2026 goals.

Minnesota Legislature – actions and reactions

The following posts are listed in reverse chronological order:

Federal Legislature – notes

  • Senator Klobuchar supports Senate Commerce Committee approval of bipartisan precision ag connectivity act
  • Senators Klobuchar and Kennedy introduce bipartisan privacy legislation to protect consumers’ online data
  • Federal legislation on broadband is introduced but limited details on how to fund it
  • Tina Smith introduces bill to deploy broadband to unserved rural and tribal communities

Provider News

Local Broadband News

Arrowhead Region
Arrowhead Regional Development Commission learn about local broadband options

Becker County
Fifth grader campaigns Becker County Commissioners for better broadband

Chippewa County
Chippewa County Broadband Feasibility Study shows hybrid fiber and wireless solutions seem viable

Cook and Chisholm
Local libraries “check out” broadband in Cook and Chisholm

Grand Marais
Blandin Foundation supports BorealCorps, a digital-savvy youth group in Grand Marais

Koochiching County
Koochiching County considers becoming a Blandin Broadband Community

Lake Shore
Broadband Market Survey for Lake Shore Community makes a good model
Lake Shore MN will look at better broadband with help from Blandin Foundation

Lyon County
Lyon County Broadband Feasibility Study shows hybrid fiber and wireless solutions are economically viable

Connect Rural Broadband Summit in Region 9 notes and archive
Mankato’s broadband event getting attention highlighting access and policy

Minneapolis Hosting Community Planning Meetings in May includes technology

Southwest Minnesota
Southwest MN schools will soon have faster broadband

Wanamingo & Randolph
Midco is expanding broadband from Wanamingo to Randolph (MN)

Wilkin County
Wilkin Commissioner testifies for rural broadband funding Wilkin and Aitkin Counties frustration with lack of broadband and losing potential recruits to the area

Farmers in Willmar list broadband as a top concern

Upcoming Events & Opportunities

We are looking to add MN broadband-related events to the Blandin on Broadband blog calendar. If you have an event you’d like to add please send it to

Stirring the Pot – by Bill Coleman

I’m in Austin TX for the Broadband Communities Conference.  Austin is widely noted for talent attraction.  Minnesotans remember Austin grabbing a big 3M expansion in the Perpich years.  Seemingly, decades ago, locals started the “keep Austin weird” movement. Now with corporate campuses, condo towers and traffic everywhere, I expect that few of those locals still live here.  Or, if they do, feel that they have lost the battle. As Joni Mitchell sang, “tear down paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Most rural communities now put talent attraction high on the economic development priority list.   I advise that your team think about what makes your town special and work to build on and preserve that essence, that unique weirdness.  You can look to the Strong Towns movement for more thoughts on this topic.  Welcome the newcomers; keep what brought them (and you) to your community.

This entry was posted in 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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