East Range Communities of Aurora, Biwabik, Hoyt Lakes and Town of White: Strut your Stuff Tour

Yesterday we met with IRBC community East Range Communities including Aurora, Biwabik, Hoyt Lakes and Town of White to talk about their broadband projects. There is one school district in the area. In 1984, the towns starting working together. The IRRB was involved with the collaboration. (In fact the website they have been working on as part of this project has been an opportunity to remember their collaborative history.)

Mobile Training Lab

Just getting going. They’ll be working together in use soon – once start of school rush dies down. The libraries will offer training – such as library resources, coding, finance training. The mobile lab, includes a project and other equipment that make it easier to do on site training.

Public WiFI

Includes access in Bikwabik (city center), and libraries in Hoyt Lakes and Aurora. This has also led to some work in the libraries in terms of choosing best options for wifi and library network and computer placement. The equipment has been ordered based on library needs. They plan to let the wifi bleed outside the walls. (Which can mean 24/7 access.)


  • Does Frontier hold a trump card for extending wireless in the area? Not true.
  • Recent Council meeting – people thought no one needed to work on broadband here because Zeto is here. That’s not true. Also heard that we should be working on 5G – not fiber. We don’t think that’s right.
  • DO you think you’ll do more wifi networks? Yes, community center, campgrounds, school athletic facilities

Community Website: http://erjpb.com/

A website about who the East Range is and what’s going on in the area. It’s about 70 percent done. It used to be focused on broadband only – not it’s much broader and broadband is a small section.

They are looking for community-wide calendar events.

Business Retention and Expansion Visits

Currently surveying existing businesses. We’re talking about broadband and more – what are their business needs how invested are they in the area. They have visited with some of the larger employers. (It’s easier to schedule with the larger businesses.

We might look at working with Chambers and other aggregate businesses to at least sent a survey (not conversation) to gauge how they feel.

People like living in a small town, people like to ride an ATV in the town.

We are seeing that as a Credit Union we can’t offer services that other Chambers, in better served communities, can offer.

Businesses are running into problems with Frontier. It can be more than a week before they can schedule repairs – despite the fact that they get CAF II funding to make improvements.

PCs for People

  • 7 computers given theo libraries
  • 43 computers given to families

LTE Feasibility Study

Meeting monthly. Raised $45,000. We are equal opportunity in our approach to getting funding. We don’t want to leave anyone out.

We are getting excited both in learning about the demand in the area and the dark fiber that already exists.

It turns out in many ways the market survey is maybe even more important than detailed engineering because if/when you start to work with a broadband provider, they will want to do their own engineering.

Educating people about broadband can be difficult.

This entry was posted in bbc, Conferences, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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