How can Minnesotans get in line for the new federal broadband discounts? Let’s figure it out together

Earlier today I posted about the new federal discounts for broadband (FCC adopts federal broadband discount program: up to $50/month, $75/month on tribal lands and $100 for device).

The natural follow up is – hey how can I/we/my people get that? Turns out CTC Technology & Energy is already thinking about that.

Localities and states can take action now—before the FCC even issues its rules—to begin to help residents maximize their potential benefits under the new Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. For more details on the program, see our explanation here. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have additional questions.

The big issue is having to figure out if you’re eligible and how apply for the funds. It can be tricky for a family to figure it out. It can be tricky for smaller broadband providers to figure it out. (Larger providers will have an easier time especially if they are already connected to the Lifeline verifier.)

CTC has a way for government to help…

On the surface, the Emergency Broadband Benefit program involves only ISPs, customers, and the FCC: A customer calls the ISP, the ISP verifies their eligibility, and the ISP is reimbursed by the FCC. The reality is that local and state governments can play a key role in helping their residents make the most of this opportunity—rather than assuming the FCC and large ISPs will take on those responsibilities—and in the process, narrow the digital divide in their communities.

 

They recommend three ways:

  • Develop consumer education and outreach materials
  • Engage with ISPs—particularly small, local operators—to support their participation
  • Consider offering bridge funding for ISPs and residents

The article provides more details but I wanted to invite folks to post a comment or contact me atreacy@treacyinfo.com if they are interested and/or planning to take any of these actions. I’ve already heard from a very knowledgeable engineer about this. I’d hate to see people inventing wheels all over the state when we could build one wheel together more easily.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, MN, Opportunities 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.

5 thoughts on “How can Minnesotans get in line for the new federal broadband discounts? Let’s figure it out together

  1. While I think this is an excellent resource for low income families, I wish they would put the funding into making broadband available to rural Minnesota. I live between the Twin Cities and Duluth, and am on a major road. Yet, I do not have access to broadband internet and am stuck with satellite internet. The one broadband line ends about a half mile north of me, and the line from the south isn’t strong enough to reach my house at a decent speed, the technician told me dial-up would be faster, so it wasn’t worth it.

    • I hear from many people in the same boat. It’s so frustrating. There are federal (RDOF/CAF) and MN state funds for building broadband – but we could always use more to reach folks like you with speeds that matter!!

  2. As I understand it, broadband is any internet connection that is not dial-up internet. It is DSL, satelite, cable. My first question is is this is correct? I don’t know exactly what broadband is. I made the assumption that it is any high-speed Internet connection. My second question would be what exactly are you proposing that we do? Form a group, or coalition, to educate our government and our Internet service providers on how to provide this benefit?

    • Jacque – on a practical basis broadband is high speed internet. The feds define broadband by speed of 25 Mbps up and 3 down. In Minnesota we have broadband goals – to have access to every in the state at speeds of 25/3 by 2022 and at speeds of 100/20 by 2026. There is a Coalition that works on trying to get MN Legislators to invest in broadband: https://mnruralbroadbandcoalition.com/

      This year, inspired by COVID, there is federal money coming to deploy broadband and defray costs for low income households. In this post, I’m suggesting that we share tips and tools to help make the best use of the federal funding. How do we get the word out to households who qualify for subsidies? The schools may have some good ideas. And how can providers and communities work together to apply for federal funding.

      Thx! Ann

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