Blandin Broadband eNews: Broadband activity throughout Minnesota Monthly Recap

Minnesota using Broadband to Help Opioid Crisis
The MN Department of Health’s Opioid Prevention Pilot Project reduces patient pill use while increasing both the numbers of Minnesotans getting treatment and the rural providers able to provide that care through telehealth networks. There’s a plan to extend the program.

Survey shows that digital technology can help rural businesses
Amazon surveys small businesses to learn that:

  • Digital technology boosts sales and reduces costs for rural small businesses
  • Small businesses in rural areas are slowly adopting digital tools and technology
  • Rural small businesses utilize digital tools and technology for sales, marketing, and operations
  • Digital technology created opportunities for rural small businesses in the past three years
  • The economic benefits of digital technologies have not been fully realized in rural areas
  • With greater adoption of digital tools and technology, the potential economic benefits in rural areas are far reaching

Take a Speed Test to Improve Broadband Maps
National Association of Counties, Rural LISC and Rural Community Assistance Partnership have released a tool to create better maps. Learn more and get instructions on how to test broadband in your area.

On the Minnesota policy front…

And national policy front…

Local Broadband News

Nelson Communications gets NTCA award for digital outreach programming for seniors

PUC needs more information from Frontier; the investigation might start in Ely.

Fish Lake Township
CenturyLink deploys FTTH to Fish Lake Township

Blue Cross layoffs in Virginia remind us that diversification via broadband is key to economic vitality

Upcoming Events and 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

For many years, I have separated the concepts of broadband availability and digital equity; broadband availability was infrastructure-focused while digital equity centered on skills or income deficits that stymied targeted populations.  Some inclusion strategies focused on convincing non-users that making use of broadband was n their best interests despite their own hesitations to make use of technology.  Effective digital equity strategies helped low-income or older individuals use technology for better education, health care, jobs, and social connections.

Recent meetings in poorly served communities and their unserved hinterlands has expanded my concept of digital equity.  With many rural places still poorly served, digital equity considerations now applies to entire communities, counties and regions, regardless of income or education.  Schools and health care providers, key community anchors, are hindered in their ability to attract the best professionals and to deliver the best services.  In turn, prospective residents reject these places in favor of better connected places that offer better school options and better health care providers that are using advanced distance education and telehealth offerings.

In the last century, communities that were bypassed by rail lines and four-lane highways faded into obscurity over time. As these places slowly declined, they became even less able to attract those infrastructure investments.  It is highly likely that soon those communities lacking quality broadband will have an increasingly difficult time attracting broadband network infrastructure investment since the most tech-dependent firms and tech-savviest customers will have already departed in favor of better connected places. As with almost everything in these times, that change is likely to be more rapid than in the past.

At community meetings, attendees relay that broadband access shortcomings have skyrocketed in urgency from minor inconvenience to lifestyle impossibility. Broadband access has become so important that we may have already reached a tipping point from which some places will not overcome.    People who have options will not remain unconnected for much longer, thus accelerating existing negative demographic trends.

In summary, leaders need to accelerate their broadband deployment efforts and be prepared to dig deep to make something happen soon.  Or it could be too late.

This entry was posted in Blandin Foundation, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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