Communities want to ensure that federal and state broadband funds provide maximum, long-term benefit to their area. Join community broadband champions from across the state on Tuesday, April 23 at 9 am CDT to learn about strategic use of federal and state broadband finance programs. To deploy high quality, future proof networks in rural places requires financial subsidy. Finding the right program for the right place at the right time is a huge challenge for community broadband advocates as well as broadband providers seeking deployment opportunities. We will hear from two broadband providers that have accessed both state and local funding and two public sector representatives.
Jim Beattie and Stacy Cluff will provide the ISP’s perspective. Jim Beattie will explain how BevComm identifies and pursues funding opportunities to serve very rural agricultural areas with fiber to the home services. BevComm is an independent telecom provider in south central Minnesota that has been active upgrading their existing networks while expanding their footprint into unserved areas. Stacy Cluff works for Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative in the woods and lakes of central Minnesota. As the primary energy provider across a prime retirement and tourism area, Mille Lacs Energy has seen the unmet need for quality broadband across their service area, a requirement for economic growth and future sustainability. Mille Lacs Energy has used both state and federal funding to move from providing wireless broadband services to deploying fiber to the home networks in a phased approach to meeting area needs.
From the funding side of the table, we will hear from Angie Dickison and Scott Woods. Angie Dickison plays a key role with the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development in allocating the state’s border to border broadband grant program, including $20 million to be distributed this fall. She will discuss how they work with providers and communities to improve broadband access across the state. The federal government, via USDA, the FCC and other sources, are the primary funders of rural broadband. Scott Woods, from the US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunication and Information Agency (NTIA), will share insights as to the strategic targeting and use of these critical resources. He will also provide information about the resources available via NTIA.
Register here This is the eighth of ten Blandin webinars on community broadband planning.