Blandin on Broadband eNews: MN Monthly Recap/Coronavirus Updates (April 2020)

Blandin Broadband Leadership Webinar Series
The Blandin Foundation is hosting a webinar series – Broadband Leadership Webinar Series: Creating Successful Broadband Projects on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:00 am until April 30. https://wp.me/p3if7-5TM Here are the sessions:

  • March 31 Series Overview (archive https://wp.me/p3if7-5X3)
  • April 2 Setting the Vision (archive https://wp.me/p3if7-5Y0)
  • April 7 Broadband 101
  • April 9 Community Broadband Surveys
  • April 14 Broadband Mapping
  • April 16 Ownership Models and Provider Partnerships
  • April 21 Feasibility Studies
  • April 23 Federal and State Broadband Finance Programs
  • April 28 Local Broadband Finance Options
  • April 30 Making it Happen: Determining your Community’s Best Option

Blandin will also be hosting a webinar on Tips and Tricks of online meetings on April 8. https://wp.me/p3if7-5WZ

MN Broadband Day on the Hill
The Day on the Hill happened just as policy decisions were being made about coronavirus changes. Many legislators showed great enthusiasm for increased broadband funding, but broadband funding did not make the special coronavirus funding package. However, policymakers encouraged attendees to continue to advocate for funding. https://wp.me/p3if7-5RO Minnesota Broadband Coalition shared their notes on the day. https://wp.me/p3if7-5S1.

State Policy Issues

  • Broadband related MN bills introduced: easements, social media, data and telecom definitions https://wp.me/p3if7-5Rz

Federal Policy Issues (in reverse chronological order of post date)

Impact of Coronavirus Policies
Mid-March, we saw a dramatic change in our world with the growing danger of coronavirus in the US and increasing policies and procedures to combat the spread – most notably the recommendation to stay at home. Broadband plans a big part in allowing people to learn, earn and keep healthy at home. Subsequently there are a lot of posts this month. I’ve tried to organize them to make them most accessible:

COVID-19 Resources Available

COVID-19 Policy/Preparedness

COVID-19 Education

COVID-19 Healthcare

COVID-19 Government

COVID-19 Affordable Broadband/Digital Divide

COVID-19 Vendor News

Local Broadband News

Aitkin
Aitkin County’s Blandin Broadband Community Reflection https://wp.me/p3if7-5QI

Anoka County
Anoka County is working with Blandin on broadband improvement projects https://wp.me/p3if7-5Rk

Bois Forte, Cook and Orr
Grizzlies’ (Bois Forte, Cook, Orr) Blandin Broadband Community Reflection (St Louis County) https://wp.me/p3if7-5QU

Cannon Falls
Cannon Falls’ Blandin Broadband Community Reflection (Goodhue County) https://wp.me/p3if7-5Qa

Center City
Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is bringing addiction and mental health services online https://wp.me/p3if7-5TS

Chishom
Chisholm’s Blandin Broadband Community Reflection (St Louis County) https://wp.me/p3if7-5QM

Crookston
RiverView Health in Crookston implements telehealth https://wp.me/p3if7-5Wo

Dakota County
Dakota County outlines broadband by the numbers https://wp.me/p3if7-5R6

Ely
Ely’s Blandin Broadband Community Reflection (St Louis County) https://wp.me/p3if7-5QQ

Franklin Township
Tiger 4G and AT&T work together to get Franklin Township online https://wp.me/p3if7-5Z8

Hibbing
Hibbing’s Blandin Broadband Community Reflection (St Louis County) https://wp.me/p3if7-5QY

Iron Range
A glimpse at fiber-haves and fiber-have-nots from Aaron Brown on MN’s Iron Range https://wp.me/p3if7-5YQ

Iron Range Tourism Bureau’s Blandin Broadband Community Reflection (St Louis County) https://wp.me/p3if7-5Qw

Koochiching County
Koochiching Technology Initiative’s Blandin Broadband Community Reflection https://wp.me/p3if7-5Qn

Koochiching County approves Koochiching Technology Initiative https://wp.me/p3if7-5Q4

Le Sueur
Le Sueur County selected for Blandin Community Broadband Program https://wp.me/p3if7-5Ut

Mankato
Mankato Clinic to Offer Telehealth Visits https://wp.me/p3if7-5UE

Mille Lacs
Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative State Grant Details (Aitkin County) https://wp.me/p3if7-5RR

Minneapolis
Washburn Center for Children Adopting telehealth with help from Medica https://wp.me/p3if7-5Wr

Pandemic preparation for a local urban broadband provider: Community Networks with US Internet https://wp.me/p3if7-5YJ

Mountain Iron Buhl
Mountain Iron-Buhl teachers share their plans for online teaching but not everyone has access https://wp.me/p3if7-5Tp

Mt. Iron-Buhl’s Blandin Broadband Community Reflection (St Louis County)
https://wp.me/p3if7-5R2

Otter Tail County
Otter Tail County selected for Blandin Community Broadband Program https://wp.me/p3if7-5Sl

Pennington
Broadband coming to Pennington and Strawberry Areas of Leech Lake Indian Reservation & SE Beltrami County https://wp.me/p3if7-5PE

Quad Cities (Eveleth, Gilbert, Mountain Iron, and Virginia)
Laurentian Chamber of Commerce’s Blandin Broadband Community Reflection (St Louis County) https://wp.me/p3if7-5QA

Rochester
Family Service Rochester opens telehealth door for therapy https://wp.me/p3if7-5V1

Rock County
Rock County’s Blandin Broadband Community Reflection https://wp.me/p3if7-5Qf

Sherburne County
Sherburne County is installing conduit and becoming Telecommuter Forward community https://wp.me/p3if7-5Rf

St Louis County
East Range Joint Powers’ Blandin Broadband Community Reflection (St Louis County) https://wp.me/p3if7-5Qr

St Paul
Kindergarteners meet on Fridays for Zoom lunch at this St Paul School https://wp.me/p3if7-5YD

Swift County
Swift County’s Blandin Broadband Community Reflection
https://wp.me/p3if7-5Qj

Tower
Tower Economic Development Authority’s Blandin Broadband Community Reflection (St Louis County) https://wp.me/p3if7-5QE

Winona
Winona Engage creates online space for local community and info https://wp.me/p3if7-5So

Yellow Medicine
Midco’s plan for fixed wireless in Yellow Medicine County https://wp.me/p3if7-5Ro

Upcoming Events

  • Thursdays in April and May: Dancing Heart Live – online morning stretch with Kairos Live https://wp.me/p3if7-5Xi

Opportunities

We are looking to add MN broadband-related events to the Blandin on Broadband blog calendar. https://wp.me/P3if7-4yG If you have an event you’d like to add please send it to atreacy@treacyinfo.com

Stirring the Pot – by Bill Coleman

Community broadband advocates need to take a look at the Rural Development Opportunity Fund (RDOF) funding that will be made available via the latest FCC’s funding program for rural broadband.  Communities should engage with their preferred provider partners now to encourage them to bid for this available funding.  A preferred partner is one whose deployment plans line up with your community’s vision for future broadband service rather than a provider using these funds to meet today’s minimum broadband standards similar to the CAF II 10 Mb/1 Mb debacle.

Over $20 billion is available and only areas that lack 25 Mb/3 Mb funding, using the current FCC maps, are eligible.   Eligible areas can be found here: https://www.fcc.gov/reports-research/maps/auction-904-preliminary-eligible-areas/ along with GIS data tables.  There are large blocks of eligible areas in northeast, east central, southeast and southcentral Minnesota.  One interesting aspect of the reverse auction process will be to reward providers who commit to providing higher speeds and lower latencies.  Frankly, this whole process is very complicated.

A significant barrier to effectively using these funds is the patchwork of eligibility.  The funds would be a great building block in a collaborative funding plan, combining provider, local and state funds with federal funding to cover a wide geographic area.  County and regional broadband planners would do well to commit local funding to their preferred provide partner which would increase their ability to bid confidently on these federal funds.

Smart legislators would empower the DEED Office of Broadband to reserve some of their funds supporting providers chasing RDOF funds.  I hope that they are talking about this.  With a prospective DEED application window in September and the October FCC auction, the timing seems compatible.  Combined, these funds could be used to ensure widespread deployment of fiber to the home networks, especially since so many of the eligible areas are not idea for wireless deployment.  This would be a great opportunity to push the “Minnesota Model” to a new level of innovation.

 

This entry was posted in Blandin Foundation, MN, Policy and tagged 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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