Regularly the Blandin Foundation takes a look at the various communities they have been working with to promote, deploy and use better broadband. They use the Mountain of Accountability Framework as a tool to help learn from the past two years. The graphic to the right gives an overview of the pieces of the assessment. You can check out the full report to find out how many YouTube subscribers the Blandin Broadband channel has or total amount of grants awarded. But my favorite part is checking in on each of the communities helped – and for sake of archive and brevity of post I’m going to share them each separately:
White Earth Nation is the largest reservation in Minnesota.
The broadband situation across the reservation is uneven.
While nearly 90% of residents have access to fixed, non-mobile broadband that meets the 2026 state speed goal of
100 MBPS download and 20 MBPS upload, there is a broad
swath across the middle of the reservation that is un- or
underserved (red in the figure to the left.) Cellular service is
also a concern across the reservation.
The Steering Team’s focus was increasing Wi-Fi access across the reservation and getting devices and internet connections to those who need it most, which they deemed to be families with students, and elders.
The team instituted an elder lending program to provide devices and mobile hotspot access to older residents on an as-needed basis, with recipients being allowed to check out the devices for several weeks at a time. Along with the device lending, digital navigation services are provided on topics such as telemedicine, online classes or meetings, and social engagement.
The lending program for students and families focuses primarily on internet hotspots rather than devices, since
younger people often have device access through schools or
cell phones. The hotspots allow students access for schoolwork. Families living in tribally owned and operated
housing units were given priority.
Public access projects include installing Wi-Fi hotspots in communities to provide safe and secure locations for
residents to access the internet and installing cell signal boosters in communities with poor cell service. They will also install televisions in White Earth Public Transit buses to improve communications across the reservation, including announcements, daily information, and marketing of community events.