MN Broadband Task Force April Mtg archive & video: Angie Craig, LTD Broadband & NCTA
The MN Broadband Task Force heard from US Rep Angie Craig, LTD Broadband and NCTA in April. Task force members had questions about mapping, speed goals and how to best work with providers to get better broadband.
The Task Force met in mid-March too. They learned about new COVID-inspired broadband grants that will be made available through the State’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).
Is MN a broadband winner or loser? A look at Federal Funding RDOF and CAF
Telecompetitor reports on the RDOF ranking by state; Minnesota ranks highly for funding per rural resident. The question is whether that funding will help or hinder the best broadband possible.
Blandin Foundation introduces CBR: Accelerate!
Blandin Foundation is offering intensive Community Broadband Resources (CBR) assistance with a new initiative: CBR: Accelerate! They will be working with Kanabec, Pine and Aitkin Counties and Mille Lacs Tribal Economy.
Bernadine Joselyn talks about MN Broadband Model
Pew asks Blandin Foundation’s Bernadine Joselyn, “What Policymakers Can Learn From the ‘Minnesota Model’ of Broadband Expansion?” Bernadine outlines the components of the Minnesota Model, why they work and how others can learn from them.
MN Broadband Day on the Hill March 2021: Video and Notes
MN Broadband Coalition hosted their Day on the Hill. The Coalition promotes $120 Million for broadband grants – over two years.
Both the Senate and the House have bills that target $120 million. The Governor budgeted $50 million for one year and none for the second year of the biennium. Since creating the budget targets, the GOP (Senate) have changed their target to $40 million for broadband; we heard (unconfirmed) that the DFL (House) are looking at $30 million.
Emergency Broadband Benefit
The FCC is working on the process for the Emergency Broadband Benefit. This is funding that will help make broadband more affordable for households through a subsidy. Updates include:
- Easy on ramp to understanding Emergency Broadband Benefit? Chris Mitchell’s Connect This! Video
- FCC Creates Consumer FAQ for Emergency Broadband Benefit
- FCC announces Initial List of Emergency Broadband Benefit Providers (including MN List)
State Policy Issues (in reverse chronological order)
- Rep Ecklund’s virtual townhall is heavy on broadband
- Broadband providers need sustained funding
- Broadband Legislative Update from MN Broadband Coalition
- US Rep Fischbach puts broadband on top of list for Ag Committee priorities
- Legislators agree on funding broadband – but how much and wired vs wireless are unknown
- COVID19 opens the doors for continued legislative support for telehealth
- MN Rep Rasmusson’s legislative update include broadband bill (HF2194)
- MN Bill aims to expand broadband in rural MN by expanding easements for electric coops
- MN Legislators look at extends easements to rural electric cooperatives (HF686/SF1304)
- Understanding SF1536: changing definitions of broadband served by adding wireless
- Minnesota senate republicans budget $40 million for broadband
- Governor’s Revised Budget is still $50 million for broadband
- Duluth News Tribune recognizes importance of broadband and need to invest
- HF14: broadband grant program money $120 million moved to Ways and Means
- Broadband on MN Public Radio: Lots of folks without access calling in
- MRBC Update: Hearing and Senate Budget Targets
- Telecom bill introduced in MN House: HF2215 911 funds for creating GIS
- Broadband bill introduced in MN House: HF2194 $120 million for grants over biennium
- MN Legislators look for ways to extend telehealth policies
- Minnesota Farm Bureau makes broadband a priority
- Representative Backer introduces a bill for $120 million for broadband in MN (HF1885)
- MN Rural Broadband Coalition Update: Letter to Governor and Legislative Leaders re: Budget Surplus and Broadband
Federal Policy Issues (in reverse chronological order)
- How to prepare for NTIA’s new broadband grant programs
- Infrastructure bill will boost broadband in MN
- Sen Klobuchar hears that some students may want to continue online classes post-pandemic
- President Biden’s $100 billion broadband plan is customer-focused
- MN to get $5 billion for COVID relief – broadband would be a good fit
- U.S. Senators Tina Smith, John Hoeven Reintroduce Bill to Improve Financial Stability of Electric Coops, Small Rural Broadband Providers
- Better broadband maps – the FCC is looking at changes
- US House asks providers to spread the work on Emergency Broadband Benefit household discounts
- MN Telecom Alliance asks FCC to deny LTD’s long-form RDOF application
- US Senate Committee meeting raises questions on speeds, needs and long term wins
- FCC looking at broadband speeds and maps
- Senator Smith to chair Rural Development and Energy Subcommittee
- Senator Klobuchar is looking ahead to broadband
- American Rescue Plan Commits Billions to Broadband
- Blandin signs on to letter urging OMB to delay definition of “metropolitan”
- Senator Klobuchar and Hon Clyburn introduce Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act
- Rep Angie Craig introduces The Broadband Consumer Transparency Act of 2021
- US Senators ask Biden Administration to update broadband speed standards
Impact of COVID-19
- Study of Libraries in pandemic indicate need to focus on home internet access
- Broadband, Local Economies and the Age of COVID: A Report
- Can your Fitbit help with early detection of COVID19?
- More than 12 million US households cancel home broadband service
- AT&T looks at definition of broadband: are they looking forward enough for everyone?
- OpenVault finds big increase in upload broadband traffic in 2020
Local Broadband News
Chisago Lakes Area, Le Sueur County, Otter Tail County, Red Lake Nation and White Earth Nation
The latest Blandin Broadband Communities cohort shares descriptions and stories of their latest broadband projects – pre and post-COVID
Ely & International Falls
Ely and International Falls part of new Midco fiber ring (St Louis & Koochiching Counties)
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
Blandin Foundation selects Mille Lacs Tribal Economy for broadband program
Otter Tail County
Otter Tail County hires broadband advocate
St Louis Park (Twin Cities)
St Louis Park (MN) invests ahead to build better broadband for the community
Todd, Cass and Wadena Counties
Minnesota cooperatives West Central and CTC on steady path of expansion (Todd, Cass and Wadena Counties)
University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota uses telehealth to treat heart attacks in the field
Upcoming Events and Opportunities
- EVENT Wednesdays: Net Inclusion 2021 Webinar Series
- EVENT April 7: World Health Day Symposium 2021
- EVENT April 15: MN Rural Broadband Coalition Meeting
- EVENT April 14: Lunch Bunch: Federal funding EVENT
- April 15: RuralRISE Broadband Tech
- EVENT April 15: MN Rural Broadband Coalition Meeting
- EVENT(April 21-22): Rural Assembly Everywhere: The Road to Repair
- EVENT April 27: Digital Inclusion + Human Connection: Libraries Serving Youth Meetup
- EVENT April 28: Women Leading Broadband and Connectivity in Rural
- EVENT April 28: Lunch Bunch: Digital Ready Communities (Apr 28) – See last month’s notes
- OPPORTUNITY: Government Experience Awards Call for Entries
- OPPORTUNITY: 2021 MN Cup: Calling all entrepreneurs!
- OPPORTUNITY: Share your broadband story with the FCC!
Stirring the Pot – by Bill Coleman
Today, the first post on my Twitter feed was a quote attributed to Mark Twain – “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” He likely heard those words first from his mother, or a 4th grade teacher! It certainly applies to just about anything from spring cleaning to a post-pandemic diet. And just as well to community broadband planning. Those communities/counties that tackled broadband early faced a daunting, but simple broadband landscape…broadband lacking everywhere, a clear choice for fiber optics, and just a few broadband financing programs to pay for it. Today, the map and technology choices are more complicated with an emerging array of federal dollars to attract and invest.
For many unserved places, “getting started” actually means getting “re-started.” That can be a more difficult challenge. These places have had task forces, completed feasibility studies, submitted grant applications and still have poor broadband. Federal agencies may have made poor choices on behalf of the community by funding outdated or inappropriate technologies or, maybe worse, disinterested or incapable providers. In spite of these obstacles, communities need to become engaged to ensure, to the extent possible, that broadband investments are made and that they are the right investments.
As you look at the Minnesota broadband maps, you can see two things – that broadband issues are regional in scale and that broadband solutions are hyper-local. Working regionally, communities can work at scale on data gathering and building political will. Working locally, communities can design specific solutions with provider partners to deploy broadband down a country road or across a township. Leadership teams from Pine, Kanabec and Aitkin Counties, in partnership with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, are working together on a regional initiative, engaging local government, health care providers, schools, businesses and community-oriented broadband providers. They are “getting started” in a big, well-organized process. I applaud these community teams for their dedication and enthusiastic leadership. Minnesota will be better off as a result!