Save the month of October: Broadband 2020: Connected We Stand
The Blandin conference planning team has decided to lean in and move the annual conference online – and reformed it into a monthlong series of opportunities. Coming in October!
First announced Keynote is Roberto Gallardo from Purdue University’s Center for Rural Development. He will be talking about digital infrastructure to transformation: leveraging broadband for community economic development. Also he and his team from Purdue are offering a unique opportunity for three communities to pilot an accelerated version of their Digital Ready Community program.
OPPORTUNITY: Partnership for ConnectedMN opens applications
ConnectedMN is a public-private partnership of philanthropic and business leaders from across Minnesota. They are providing funding to help students and families get the broadband and devices they need to participate in distance education. Applications are open until Sep 1, 2020.
OPPORTUNITY: Statewide Speed Test Initiative
The Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition launches of the Minnesota Speed Test Initiative to find out exactly where broadband service is available in rural Minnesota and what speeds people are receiving.
OPPORTUNITY: MN Broadband County Profile Focus Groups
As part of the Minnesota Broadband Profiles this year, counties are invited to talk about their COVID experience based on broadband situation with one question, “Is broadband helping or hurting your community’s ability to function during the pandemic?”
OPPORTUNITY! MN Border to Border Broadband Grant Applications Available
The Office of Broadband Development (OBD) is soliciting applications for Border to Border Broadband grant funding of broadband infrastructure projects. The deadline for the applications is September 30, 2020.
State Policy Issues (in reverse chronological order)
- COVID Funding available at city and county level in Minnesota
- US Senator Smith on helping the Duluth area, mentions broadband
- Bernadine Joselyn and Bill Coleman on League of MN Cities’ podcast with Everything’s Better with Better Broadband
- MN Rural Broadband Coalition Update: Second Special Session Ends With Mixed Results – July 21, 2020
- AG Ellison settles with Frontier – including info on compensation for customers
- AT&T Invests More Than $300 Million Over Three-Year Period to Keep Minnesota Connected
- CNS acquires WCTG creating unified state-wide fiber network
Federal Policy Issues (in reverse chronological order)
- Klobuchar Highlights Need to Address Challenges in Rural America During Pandemic
- One in Five in Rural MN unserved – can better maps or federal funding help?
- When technology trips over policy – and leaves homes unserved
- One in Five in Rural MN unserved – can better maps or federal funding help?
- How do Presidential candidates tackle tech? (Thanks to Digital Trends and Benton)
- Toolkit from Institute for Local Self Reliance for communities wanting to support community broadband
- Broadband definitions matter – and EFF says 25/3 is too slow
- US Broadband Legislation Tracker
- Federal Funding for Broadband and Education
- Candidate Biden announces $2 trillion plan to include broadband infrastructure
- Broadband maps no good? Maybe try something new!
- The Cost of Connectivity? Definitely more in the US
- Can 5G Compete with Cable Broadband? A response from 5G
- A call in US Senate to fund library hotspots for check out
- MN Farmers Union on American Connection Project Broadband Coalition
- Is five years the expiration date for a broadband goal or definition? If so, time’s up!
- Senator Klobuchar proposes legislation to invest $100 billion in broadband
- Land O’Lakes, Inc. and partners launch a growing coalition to close America’s digital divide
Impact of COVID-19
- Which students are left behind when learning goes online? Spoiler alert, there’s no spoiler
- COVID exacerbates the gap between haves and have-nots – starting with healthcare facilities vs broadband providers
- So about schools and distance learning and broadband – WCCO is asking
- Telehealth hubs bridge the gap for patients without access to computers, broadband and/or skills to access online help
- Blue Cross Blue Shield extends their COVID-inspired telehealth coverage through end of 2020
- Going deep with telehealth application to get medical supplies Where they need to go
- Using food stamps online – great in a pandemic but it comes with a price
- With COVID-19, Telehealth was implemented quickly in rural area – they need more help
- MN allows telehealth consults for cannabis authorization
- Highlighting the benefits of telethealth in treating mental health in rural MN
Local Broadband News
Aitkin County is moving forward with broadband in some areas – get the low down
Crow Wing County
Crow Wing County puts $1.5M of CARES funds into broadband & CTC
Lake Shore City to seek bids from providers to extend broadband (Cass County)
Broadband Life in Little Falls – when the maps say you’re served and you know you aren’t! (Morrison County)
Many advantages to living in rural MN – broadband isn’t always sone of them
Regional Economic Framework Draft by Met Council includes broadband SWOT
Upcoming Events and Opportunities
- Aug 4: Task Force on Broadband agenda & instructions
- Aug 4: Dakota County plans for CARES and Broadband Meeting)
- EVENT Sep 10: UMN Extension’s Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference
- OPPORTUNITY: MRHA Emerging Rural Health Leader Award nominations open
- OPPORTUNITY: Call for Presentations: 2020 National Tribal Broadband Summit
- OPPORTUNITY: 2021 Congressional Innovation Fellowship Application Open
Notes on previous Blandin Broadband Roundtables
- Blandin Broadband Leadership Roundtable on Data and Broadband Investment Archive
- Broadband Roundtable on Minnesota Rural Mental Health and Telehealth Notes
- Broadband Roundtable on 5G archive
- Blandin Broadband Leadership Roundtable on Minnesota’s Children Press archive
Stirring the Pot – by Bill Coleman
I recognized a bit of the challenge that broadband providers face this weekend as I was thinking about upgrading my classic 1987 16-foot Lund fishing boat. Someone made me a tentative offer, somewhat out of the blue. It is a good boat with a new transom that I installed last year. No leaks which is a big positive! The vintage motor runs great once you get it started. I have now got it set up the way I want with the right accessories. A big advantage to this boat is there are no monthly payments!
To upgrade to a boat that is newer, bigger, faster, more features involves a lot of analysis, risk taking and expense. To get a new boat that is similar in size and features to mine would be six times my current investment. To get a used boat costs less but creates more risk and calls to mind the saying, “better the devil you know!” Some boat brands have a great reputation but still all kinds of negative online reviews and problems.
I have learned from ISPs that getting people to switch services, either an upgrade from their existing provider or to a new provider is a tougher sell than one would think. There is a lot of uncertainty in terms of installation, timing, new email addresses, expense. Is the faster Internet worth the expense? All kinds of questions.
There are all kinds of online forums that can provide comfort to the boat buying process. You can get great feedback on boat models, motors and price. I think that community broadband champions can play this role to advocate, especially advocating for new broadband competitive providers. Think about how you can support the companies who have been willing to invest in your community by supporting their marketing efforts and ensuring their success.
By the way, I am sticking with my old boat, at least for now!