Region 5 Broadband Event Notes and Audio

The Region 5 Broadband Event turned into a great conversation with lots of questions and ideas from attendees and speakers. Interesting to hear the perspective of policymakers and how they focus on to best work with providers.

listen to the session – or half the session due to a tiny glitch:



  • Cheryal Hills, Executive Director, Region Five Development Commission
  • Current Broadband Climate (Data from Dept of Broadband)
  • Diane Wells, MN Dept of Education and Economic Development
  • Bill Coleman, Broadband Coalition

Panel of Storytellers

  • Josh Netland, Emily Telephnoe Co-op
  • Mark Diehl, Little Falls School District
  • Jim Roeder, Lakewood Health

Facilitated by Don Hickman, Initiative Foundation

  • Update from Elected Official (Kresha/Poston)
  • Introduced by Paul Drange, Sourcewell

Small group discussions

  • Are there individual, group or legislator action steps to be taken that
    help communities meet goals/needs over the next 3-5 years?
  • How can local units of government support broadband efforts?
  • What are YOU willing to do? What steps can YOU take?

Recap from small groups and Elected Official (Kresha/Poston) Facilitated by Dawn Espe, R5DC
Next Steps- State Broadband Conference by Bill Coleman, Broadband Coalition

Notes from the Zoom Chat

Region 5 Broadband Event- Chat Box Summary
Zip Codes of attendees56465
56453 (2)
56438 (2)
56401 (3)
56345 (3)
56472 (2)
56479 (2)
56482 (2)
56425 (2)
Questions and Comments of Note:
Q. How are providers allocated to an area? Provider is substandard in our area. They built out
to 1 mile down from us but will not extend. People out “farther” get quality CTC, but we are
stuck “in between”. Is there choice? Competition might make them more customer responsive.
A. Here are no monopoly service areas for broadband service so any provider can go
anywhere in the state that they want and serve, they just need a certificate to do
business in MN from the MN Sec. of State’s Office. We usually look to the historic
telephone company or the historic cable company as the most likely to have a wire to
someone’s home. If an area is too rural, then there never has been a cable company. If
the historic telephone company has not upgraded its copper then it may be unable to
provide a broadband service or it is very slow. Because rural areas can be expensive to
serve (high cost to build and/or few customers per mile of plant), there is usually a need
to help a provider make the business case–whether that is a provider already in the
area or another provider that will deploy broadband if they can make the business case.
Q. How can we access the grants to get service to the areas that companies don’t want to
serve? Companies don’t need grants if they can make a profit through their business plan.
Comprehensive guide to federal broadband funding programs from NTIA:
Interactive federal funding guide:
more information on Blandin’s Accelerate! 16 week program for community broadband
leadership development. We are recruiting new community partners: Contact Bill Coleman with any questions or to learn more. 651-491-2551 or
PUC Consumer Hotline: 651/296-0406
I have an internet tower in the field behind my house, uses my tree farm road to access and
maintenance the tower but refuse to extend to my house. A mile up the road and down have
Hi all – My name is Joe Buttweiler, Director of Business Development at CTC. I’m currently at the
ice arena listening in while my son is at hockey tryouts. My phone number is: 218-454-1275 and
my email is For those who I do not know on this call (and those I do!) please
feel free to reach out anytime with questions about broadband in Region 5, the various
programs available and so forth.
Q. What happens if your provider isn’t interested?
There is a Spectrum node 2 blocks away from our street in Baxter, but they refused to extend to
us. Century Link said no plan to upgrade to fiber for us either. We have slow DSL that drops
we have no internet at my location with no internet. have to use hotspot. unlimited Verizon is
Charter Spectrum has participated in the State grant program. If you have a
neighborhood group interested in service, start a petition and have everyone sign with
name and address and our office can help you get that delivered to the right person at
Charter (if they make the most sense because they have the closest facilities). They can
study the costs to serve the area and if it doesn’t meet their business case, they could
apply for a state grant.
we tried that. we were told it is not cost effective for charter to expand for us.
Hi everyone, I wanted to provide my contact information for any additional questions. – Josh
Netland – – 218-763-3000
Deerwood Township is interested in using ARPA funds to expand Broadband in the Township.
How do we partner with providers to do that?
The map data from the DSL (copper) providers can differ from what you may have at home
because the speeds are greatly affected by the distance the service travels over that copper.
Check your address on or to get a more accurate speed available.
And contact our office at and we can correct the maps. The
maps are just a starting point and in the new federal funding are not the basis for funding as
they were with the FCC funding (CAF, RDOF). And they have always only been the starting point
for the state grant program funding.
Q. I have heard that it is very difficult to become EBB consumer. Any others hearing this as
A. I am not hearing of problems enrolling in EBB but if you do have issues, the MN PUC
Consumer Affairs Office has been providing assistance.
Question for our state legislators – As you stated, there are many issues and needs in our state –
HOUSING, Education and Health Care etc…my question…Isn’t Broadband essential to all the
other areas of the state budget?
Q. can providers use the same lines as electric coops?
A. Electric lines cannot effectively be used for broadband. Electric cooperatives do have
many fiber assets, poles, trucks, and customer service. They can be great partners.
Mille Lacs Energy is a great model.
A. Pole attachments can be an issue. Usually, a telecom provider has to pay the electric
company to use the poles.

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