Blandin Broadband eNews: Broadband in the community, in research and campaigns

Border to Border Broadband: Transforming Minnesota Oct 23-24
Join policymakers, economic and community development professionals and community broadband champions from across the state for this annual opportunity to learn, connect and engage.

Impact of Competition on Investment
The Institute for Local Self Reliance latest research finds that big cable and telecom companies fight over urban customers, not rural customers. They recommend that rural communities find their own way to bridge the digital divide.

MN County Ranking are out. How did you do?
The Office of Broadband Development released the Minnesota County maps and data. Here are the top served counties in MN (based on speeds of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up)

  1. Red Lake – 99.99% ranks 1
  2. Rock – 99.93% ranks 2
  3. Ramsey – 99.84% ranks 3
  4. Swift – 99.64% ranks 4
  5. Clearwater – 99.58% ranks 5
  6. Beltrami – 99.40 % ranks 6
  7. Stevens – 99.22% ranks 7
  8. Hennepin – 99.18% ranks 8
  9. Big Stone – 98.91% ranks 9
  10. Anoka – 98.87% ranks 10

Broadband Task Force hears from Broadband Champions
The MN Broadband Task Force heard from the MN Broadband Coalition on their recommendations for the Legislature. They also heard from Bill Coleman on recent study on the limitations of CAF II funded networks and from Ann Treacy on the community return on public investment in broadband.

A New Blandin Broadband Communities Cohort Begins
Swift County, Cannon Falls and Rock County are the latest groups to form a BBC cohort. They met with the Blandin Broadband Team to talk about how they are going to focus on broadband expansion in their communities in the next 18 months.

Broadband in the Elections

Local Broadband News

A look at broadband projects in Aitkin MN, including hotspots that have encouraged private investment in FTTH, a community landing page and training.

Chisago County
Lack of internet access was listed as a potential problem to attracting people to Chisago County in their most recent Comprehensive Housing Needs Analysis.

A look at broadband projects in Chisholm MN, including hotspots everywhere, connected Discovery Center, portal and hopes for the schools

A look at broadband projects in Cook MN, including classes, hotspot checkout and library programming

A look at broadband projects in Ely MN: Feasibility study, digital marketing, coworking and Elyite website.
A recent business broadband survey in Ely shows that selling is top benefit to local businesses.

A look at broadband projects in Hibbing MN, including digital marketing and connectivity through the libraries and community center.

Iron Range & Red Wing
Minnesota Monthly highlights communities experiencing a Rural Renaissance and credits broadband technology with helping the Iron Range and Red Wing.

Kandiyohi County
LTD Broadband expanded wireless service to the lakes area of Kandiyohi County with new equipment on water towers in Spicer, on Green Lake, in New London and a tower site by Long Lake.

Lake County
Lake County gets first bid for Lake Connections broadband. Lake County network might cost locals money, but it has opened economic opportunity.

Mountain Iron/Buhl
A look at broadband projects in Mountain Iron/Buhl MN, including cool forest education program, new school equipment and feasibility study.

Polk, Clearwater, Pennington, Marshall and Red Lake counties
Garden Valley Telephone Company received a $20 million loan from the USDA to construct 295 miles of fiber and FTTP facilities.

Southeast Minnesota
Mabel Cooperative Telephone, MiEnergy Cooperative and Spring Grove Communications will create a new company, MiBroadband to provide fixed, wireless broadband to areas of Southeast Minnesota and Northeast Iowa.

Southern Minnesota
Consolidated Communications will boost broadband speeds in Mankato, North Mankato, Amboy, Cambria, Eagle Lake, Ellendale, Faribault, Garden City, Good Thunder, Janesville, Lake Crystal, Madison Lake, Mapleton, New Richland, Nicollet, Pemberton, St. Clair, St. Peter, Vernon Center and Waseca.

Twin Cities
CTEP members present on digital Inclusion projects in the Twin Cities, including a look at broadband equity.

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

It is exciting to work with three new communities in the Blandin Broadband Communities Program.  This group of communities is unique in our Blandin team experience of working with 36  communities in four previous cohorts.  Each of these three communities is or is in the process of being very well-served.  Swift and Rock Counties have county-wide broadband service, mostly over FTTH, via new competitors Acira and Alliance Communications; both companies are cooperatives.  While HBC is now completing its Fiber to the Home network within the City of Cannon Falls, this area still has some broadband challenges in the rural area.  The strong connectivity in these communities puts the opportunity in front of community leaders to begin the effort to transform their communities, making full use of these advanced telecommunications networks.

Which of these communities, and other communities that are well-served, will invest in their own future to make their communities competitive for attracting people and investment?  This will take vision and commitment, demonstrated by new equipment and tech services purchases.  Employees will need training.  The Blandin Broadband Communities Program is designed to spur cross-sector community collaboration to ease tech investment decision-making and enable community-wide training for current and future workforce.  Over the next several months, these communities will be convening stakeholders and planning their future, designing projects that meet community needs, led by community champions.  With their information highway installed, their future is firmly in their hands!  BBCs, start your engines!

Many people are aware that Blandin Foundation uses the Intelligent Community framework in its work with community broadband and vitality initiatives.  Each year the Intelligent Community Forum ( conducts a competition to name the most intelligent communities in the world.  I encourage you to consider applying for this competition.  The initial application, available online at is not challenging and each participating community receives a benchmarking report on how it compares to other participating communities in the areas of broadband, knowledge workforce, innovation, digital equity, sustainability and advocacy.  I recommend this as a good use of time and as a way to educate local policy makers on what it takes to compete for people and investment in the global economy.

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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