Save the Date (Oct 12-14)! Building on Broadband: Inspiring Progress
The Blandin Foundation is pleased to announce the dates for the virtual fall broadband conference of Oct 12-14. There will be a series regional events leading up to the statewide conference. We are looking for presenters (like you) who have an inspirational story of broadband use. Please submit an idea!
FCC doles out some RDOF funding
The FCC announced several (but not all) Federal RDOF broadband awards. Two winning bidders in MN were given the green light (Consolidates and Farmers) and one was asked and then did withdraw one project (Aspire). Nothing was said about LTD Broadband in Minnesota; although LTD was given red and yellow lights in other states. CNS has created an interactive map that tracks the new awards. The RDOF announcement was a hot topic on the July Digital Use Lunch Bunch topic as well in various publications.
MN Broadband Task Force July 2021
The MN Broadband Task Force heard from the MN Office of Broadband Development; because new funding for grants will be coming from federal sources, the funds will likely not be released in 2021. They also heard from the State Connected & Automated Vehicles Office and their need for fiber and from CNS about their interactive broadband maps.
New Blandin Cohort to Work on Broadband
Arrowhead Intelligent Region (AIR) initiative brings together northeastern Minnesota economic and community developers to identify and fund projects across the seven-county Arrowhead region that will:
- improve broadband infrastructure
- build a knowledge workforce
- incent innovation
- ensure digital equality
- enable community engagement
- ensure environmental and social sustainability
Policy Issues (in reverse chronological order)
- Sen Klobuchar proposes bill to help social media channel misinformation
- MinnPost looks at Legislature’s impact on rural areas.
- Senator Carrie Rudd mentions broadband funding as a highlight
- Minnesota policymakers are speaking up for federal infrastructure funding
- Access to broadband isn’t just a rural issue!
- Rep Pelowski outlines role of Industrial Education and Economic Development Finance and Policy Committee and broadband
- A voice for Open access municipal networks
- Rep Fischbach visits family farm to appreciate importance of rural broadband
- Senators Klobuchar and Grassley Introduce Legislation to Expand Access to Rural Broadband
- White House says Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework invests $65 billion
- Senator Smith requests funding for Northern MN – including for broadband
- Pres Biden asks for broadband nutrition label and more competitive rules
- Minnesota Farmers Union calls $70 million for broadband one of the most important pieces of legislation
- Doug Dawson predictions in upload broadband discussion
- Legislators Bakk and Ecklund talk about MN broadband funding
- Telemedicine gains momentum during pandemic and policy changes will keep it going
- Emergency Broadband Benefit has enrolled just 1 in 12 eligible households
- How to spend the American Rescue Plan? Ask the residents
- MN regulators refuse CenturyLink’s request to drop landline service quality rules
- Midco extends gig access to parts of Le Sueur, Steele, Blue Earth, Freeborn, Waseca and Dodge Counties
- Apollo Global Mgmt looks to buy consumer assets From Lumen/CenturyLink
- MN Dep of Commerce and Attorney General’s Office call out CenturyLink for issues with landline customer service
- AT&T Invests More than $300 Million Over Three-Year Period to Connect Local Customers in Minnesota
Research & Tools
- Fiber Broadband announces Research Advisory Program to Quantify and Qualify Impact of Fiber
- BroadbandUSA grants roundup
- Common Cause’s new report on the politics of the Digital Divide
- Research on Hiring Technologies of Large Hourly Employers
- New research shows household of four requires 131/73 Mbps of bandwidth
- Broadband alone isn’t enough – students need laptops
Local Broadband News
Dakota County Broadband Report 2020
702 Communications Announces new Internet Exchange, FMIX
Fridley storm shelter also used as learning hub and literacy center
Hennepin County board authorizes $10M toward eliminating digital divide
Kandiyohi County to focus federal funding (ARP) on broadband
Le Sueur County
Asset mapping in Le Sueur County includes broadband plans
Mankato Free Press on rural wins in Legislature
Mankato getting more fiber with Consolidated and faster downloads with Spectrum
How can broadband help with these wild fires?
Internet Speeds up to 10 Gigabits Coming to Northern Minnesota
Mayo’s video visits up 5000 percent but how does that impact Rochester’s local economy?
Sen Klobuchar says infrastructure bill will help get broadband to Southeast Minnesota
Thief River Falls
AT&T deploying 5G in areas around Thief River Falls, Marshall and North Shore MN
Upcoming Events, Opportunities and Resources
- Aug 18: Minnesota Broadband Coalition Meeting
- Aug 25 Lunch Bunch: Discussion on Basic Broadband
- OPPORTUNITY: Statewide Telecommuting Survey from UMN Extension
- OPPORTUNITY: Open positions in MN State Boards, Councils and Committees
- OPPORTUNITY: RFQ Posting Fiber Optic Network in Dakota County
- OPPORTUNITY: Fiber Broadband launches Fiber Technician Training and Cert Program
- OPPORTUNITY: Tell your EBB for discounted internet access story
- OPPORTUNITY: Rising Star Application
- OPPORTUNITY: Consumer Reports is asking for your home broadband speed and cost
Stirring the Pot –
Blandin Foundation offers a couple approaches for communities wanting to work on broadband access and use. The Foundation is recruiting communities right now for both approaches.
Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC) – The BBC program requires a community team – City, County, School District, Tribal Government, or multi-county region – to work on both broadband access and use over an 18-24 month period. Communities receive leadership education, facilitation and grant resources to plan and implement projects that improve broadband access and use. This might include anything from wi-fi hotspots to e-commerce assessments and training to tele-health to training elders. Each community receives up to $75,000 to implement projects. Projects must fall into one or more of the six Intelligent Community framework, including broadband, workforce, innovation, digital equity, sustainability and/or community engagement. Blandin has worked with more than 40 communities on this program and the results always surpass expectations, even in this virtual environment.
Community Broadband Resources: Accelerate! – This program is focused on equipping your community broadband team to successfully plan and implement broadband infrastructure projects. Over a 16-week timeframe, community teams watch online broadband webinars, then meet Friday mornings for two hours to learn more about that week’s topics and plan the upcoming broadband development efforts. Through the program, community teams conduct surveys, interview incumbent and prospective providers, develop consensus around local broadband partnership and finance strategies, etc. We have just completed our first cohort of four county/tribal communities and now these communities are off and running on prospective broadband public-private partnership projects, including the pursuit of federal grants.
If you are interested in either of these programs, please contact Bill Coleman at 651-491-2551 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Application timelines on both programs are short, so do not delay.