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.
Below are profiles of the tribal communities that have maps followed by percent of households with access to 100 Mbps down and 20 up.
- Bois Forte Reservation (0)
- Fond du Lac Reservation (66.4)
- Grand Portage Reservation (94.24)
- Leech Lake Reservation (78.99
- Lower Sioux Indian Community (90.24)
- Mille Lacs Reservation (72.54)
- Prairie Island Indian Community (50.24)
- Red Lake Reservation (99,82)
- Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (100)
- Upper Sioux Community (47.58)
- White Earth Reservation (89.96)
State Policy Issues (in reverse chronological order)
- Minnesota has a Broadband Office, Task Force, Agency and Fund -Interactive map of State assets
- MN Broadband Task Force asks Governor Walz to expedite and increase request for federal funds for broadband
- Senator Carla Nelson outlines improvements telemental health and broadband
- MN AARP tells to Gov Walz to invest ARPA in broadband
- MN PUC broadband update – is consumer protection is the next essential piece of the Minnesota model?
- Nurse Licensure Compact would allow MN to ease licensure for telehealth
- RAMS to sponsor MN statewide speed test
- MN Rural Broadband Coalition Update: Congress Passes Infrastructure Bill, Broadband Funding
Federal Policy Issues (in reverse chronological order)
- Rep Stauber votes against infrastructure bill that includes money for broadband
- Benton Institute for Broadband and Society says to close the digital gap, we need a connectivity baseline, better outreach and continued funding
- Federal funding will help MN students get online
- Heavy lobbying anticipated as agencies figure out infrastructure bill
- Senator Klobuchar on broadband upgrades and infrastructure bill
- Minnesota Delegates responses to broadband and the Infrastructure bill
- Rep Omar votes against Infrastructure Bill that brings $100 million to broadband in MN
- Rep Hagedorn votes against Infrastructure Bill that brings $100 million to broadband in MN
- US Reps Dean and Craig talk about Jobs Act and broadband funding
- CBS MN reports $100M for broadband in latest Infrastructure bill
- Four ways the Infrastructure Bill makes broadband more affordable
- USDA specific funds for Tribal and Rural communities
- Minnesota Senator and Congress member response to the Infrastructure Expansion Act of 2021
- The Infrastructure Expansion Act of 2021 passes!
- Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Report
- FCC Announces Equity Council Members, Working Group Chairs and meeting Nov 3
- Most recent RDOF Award winners include Midcontinent and Roseau Electric in MN
- Starlink out of beta but not shipping soon due to chip shortages
Local Broadband News
Benton, Chisago and Isanti Counties
Senator Klobuchar holds call with Benton, Chisago, Isanti County Officials on how Infrastructure Bill will Expand Rural Broadband
Chippewa County looks at broadband options from RDOF-LTD lens
Lichen Lake (Cook County)
New FirstNet Cell Sites Launch along Gunflint Trail and near Lichen Lake
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)
Togo (Itasca County
New FirstNet Cell Site Launches in Togo
Upcoming Events, Opportunities and Resources
- EVENT Dec 13: New Federal Investments in Digital Equity: What Skills Advocates Need to Know
- EVENT Dec 15: MN Rural Broadband Coalition Membership Meeting
- EVENT Dec 16: The Missing Millions – Democratizing Computation and Data to Bridge Digital Divides and Increase Access to Science for Underrepresented Communities
- OPPORTUNITY: Appleton MN RFP FTTP and Broadband Services Procurement
- OPPORTUNITY: Win a Broadband Master Plan from Connect Humanity and Partners
- OPPORTUNITY: Fiber Broadband Assn FBA Launches Fiber Connect 2022 & Calls for Speakers
- OPPORTUNITY: Applications open for 2022 Lead For Minnesota Fellowship
- OPPORTUNITY: Nominate a Digital Equity Champion!
- OPPORTUNITY: Tech Congress Congressional Innovation Scholars Program
- OPPORTUNITY: Job Director, Public Policy & Research at MN Tech Association
- OPPORTUNITY: $500M in Good Jobs Challenge grants could fund training and tech assistance
- OPPORTUNITY: Sherburne County looking for partners to build better broadband with ARPA grants
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!