eNews: MN Monthly Recap Sep 2021: RDOF, Fall Conference and Opportunities

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)


Vendor News

Research & Tools

Local Broadband News

Dakota County
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
Hennepin County board authorizes $10M toward eliminating digital divide

Kandiyohi County
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

Northern MN
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?

Southeast MN
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

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 bill@communitytechnologyadvisors.com. Application timelines on both programs are short, so do not delay.

This entry was posted in Blandin Foundation, MN 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.

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