eNews: MN Monthly Recap Dec 2021: MN tribal broadband reports, funding and draft MN broadband report

MN Broadband Task Force reviews draft of annual report
The MN Broadband Task Force reviewed the latest draft of the annual report in their last meeting. They decided not to change the speed goals and talked about lowering broadband grant speed requirements or lowering match requirement for hard to serve areas.

Blandin Foundation called out as Best Practice in white paper
Blandin’s broadband work has been called out as best practice in the Bridge to Everywhere: Practical Considerations for Philanthropy for Expanding Broadband Access in Rural Communities.

Timeline (known and expected) for Federal Funding Opportunities
The Benton Institute for Broadband and Society has put together a nice list of funding expectations for 2022 and some forecasts for 2023-24.

OPPORTUNITY: I’m thankful for broadband because…
The Blandin Foundation is creating, collecting and sharing content throughout the holidays season making the point that with great broadband, you can live anywhere – so why not here? We’re inviting folks to send (or post) a video or picture online and tag (#MNthanks2broadband). These are images we can share while people are one for the holiday or use come Legislative Season.

2021 MN Tribal Nation Broadband Profiles

Below are profiles of the tribal communities that have maps followed by percent of households with access to 100 Mbps down and 20 up.

State Policy Issues (in reverse chronological order)

Federal Policy Issues (in reverse chronological order)

Vendor News

Local Broadband News

Aitkin
Aitkin County gets $4.8 million block grant to expand broadband

Austin
Austin MN Leadership team working with Blandin Foundation to get better broadband

Bemidji
A closer look at telework recruitment efforts such as Bemidji’s 218 Relocate
Innovate 218 supports Innovation in Northeast Minnesota

Benton, Chisago and Isanti Counties
Senator Klobuchar holds call with Benton, Chisago, Isanti County Officials on how Infrastructure Bill will Expand Rural Broadband

Chanhassen
MetroNet to make Chanhassen Minnesota’s Next Gigabit City (Carver County)

Chippewa County
Chippewa County looks at broadband options from RDOF-LTD lens

Dakota County
President Biden visits MN and encourages investment in infrastructure that will make us a leader

Faribault (Rice County)
New FirstNet Cell Site Launches South of Faribault 
Faribault County one step closer to using CARES money for better broadband

Fillmore County
Fillmore County gets pitches from several broadband providers to invest ARPA funds

Hibbing
Libraries without Borders work with Hibbing MN on Health and Wellness curriculum

Jackson County
Jackson County looking at state broadband grant – outside of potential LTD-claimed RDOF areas

Le Sueur County
Le Sueur County is working on better broadband with local champion Barbara Dröher Kline

Lichen Lake (Cook County)
New FirstNet Cell Sites Launch along Gunflint Trail and near Lichen Lake

Lincoln County
Lincoln County becomes a Blandin Broadband Community to continue broadband increase

Montevideo
Montevideo tops the list of most affordable towns to work remotely from in Minnesota

Prinsburg (Kandiyohi County)
City of Prinsburg Takes Next Step for Broadband Project – $330,000 in ARPA funding (Kandiyohi County)

St Paul
MN Hospitals receive funding from FCC for telehealth

Togo (Itasca County
New FirstNet Cell Site Launches in Togo

Upcoming Events, Opportunities and Resources

Stirring the Pot – by Bill Coleman

With ARPA dollars in hand and Infrastructure dollars coming, I have been receiving many calls from communities and counties wondering how best to start broadband problem solving using the ARPA funds and the how to acquire the remaining dollars to finish the job.  The task of community broadband planning has never been more complicated, requiring a knowledge of a whole host of program acronyms and program rules.  Uncertainty over RDOF, Department of Treasury guidance, state broadband grant strategies, and provider interest is then multiplied by supply chain issues.

It has never been more important for communities to understand their vision for broadband.  Our new cohort of Accelerate communities is now struggling to put words to paper.  They are considering technical capabilities, future-proofing, qualities of desired provider partners, ownership and operations models, risk-reward factors and timeframe.  The new Accelerate communities learned from the previous cohort that no matter what you write down early in the process, be prepared to amend that vision as choices become more clear.  The words written in a vision statement, if taken seriously, matter.

Infrastructure spending has long-term consequences.  Some would prefer to just jump ahead with an RFP asking “who wants some broadband money?”  The speed and simplicity of this approach is appealing.  Please know that just as RDOF has had consequences on the next steps, so too will hurried, unguided local broadband spending.  The choices that your community makes in the near future will impact your community’s ability to finish the job over the long term.  Please do the necessary work up front to understand the choices that you are making.  In five years, you will want to look back and see the wisdom of your decisions.  Good luck!

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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