eNews: MN Monthly Recap Jan 2022: MN policy updates and broadband county rankings

Minnesota Broadband Rankings are out!
The Office of Broadband Development released the county broadband maps and numbers; the data was collected by October 2021. Get details:

MN Broadband Task Force finalizes annual report
Some decisions were made in the final meeting. They decided to remove the waiver to allow providers to bid of grants that did not meet the 100/100 standard in areas that are difficult to serve. They also decided to keep the $5 million award cap for grants.

Update on MN Broadband Funding
The Office of Broadband Development offer a Border-To-Border Broadband Infrastructure Grant Update.

MN Rural Broadband Coalition Legislative Platform 2022
The MN Broadband Coalition outlines their legislative platform, starting with “Support legislation that allocates $70 million from the General Fund to fulfill the fiscal obligation in the 2022-2023 biennial budget for the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant program.”

State Policy Issues (in reverse chronological order)

Federal Policy Issues (in reverse chronological order)

Vendor News

Local Broadband News

Chisago Lakes Area
Blandin takes a look at last two years with grantees such as Chisago Lakes Area

Crookston, East Grand Forks, Thief River Falls, Roseau
Chemical Health Assessments available online in Crookston, East Grand Forks, Thief River Falls and Roseau

Dodge County
KMTelecom earns award for broadband connectivity (Dodge County)

Jackson, Cottonwood, Nobles, Martin, Murray, Brown Counties
Change in broadband provider ownership (Federated Rural) in Jackson, Cottonwood, Nobles, Martin, Murray and Brown Counties

Kandiyohi County
Kandiyohi County spends $56,000 in ARPA on broadband project

Recap on Kandiyohi County using ARPA funds to build better broadband in Prinsburg with Arvig

Lake of the Woods
New FirstNet Cell Site Launches in Angle Inlet (Lake of the Woods County MN)

Le Sueur County
Blandin takes a look at last two years with grantees such as Le Sueur

Northeast MN
Innovate 218 gets more recognition for lifting up Northeast Minnesota

Nobles County
Nobles County commits $2 million match for ReConnect application for broadband

Otter Tail County
Blandin takes a look at last two years with grantees such as Otter Tail County

White Earth Nation
Blandin takes a look at last two years with grantees such as White Earth Nation

Upcoming Events, Opportunities and Resources

Stirring the Pot – by Bill Coleman

By January 2023, many of the decisions affecting long-term rural broadband investment and deployment decisions will be made. Local governments will have allocated their ARPA dollars.  States will have created and begun implementing their BEAD plans.  NTIA will have awarded the funds from their Broadband Infrastructure, Tribal Broadband Connectivity and Connecting Minority Communities Programs.  The FCC will have finalized their due diligence on RDOF funds.  Everyone will have their own eligibility and technical requirements.  It is hard to imagine how all of this  chaos will turn out and even, harder to imagine that it will turn out as well as we hope. To quote famous railroad man Leonor Loree, “This is no way to run a railroad.”

The current broadband investment boom compares closely to the railroad boom of the late 19th Century.  The federal government, led by President Lincoln, spurred private investment in the trans-continental railroads. Decisions made in Washington DC and in state capitols determined local futures.  Communities invested their own precious local dollars with railroad developers with mixed results.  There were many winners and losers, just like today.   With the many positives of population and economic growth came monopolies, robber barons and swindlers as well as loss of tribal lands.  The effects of these 19th Century decisions can still be seen on our US geography today.  (As a side note, abandoned rail lines are now bike trails which demonstrates the ongoing value of infrastructure investment even if the long term benefits are drastically different than anticipated.)

Lewis Carroll’s “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” highlights the range of community role choices.  To ensure that your community ends up as a busy station on an advanced broadband network, community teams must carefully create their community vision and then assume the roles necessary to achieve that vision.  Or wait for someone to do something and hope for the best.

With ARPA funds, some communities will simply issue an RFP that invite providers to make proposals, selecting the projects that provide the best results in terms of cost per household, number of households, quality of service, etc. without much discussion of “What’s next?” or “How do we get service to the next group of houses down the road?”  I fear that many of these incomplete solutions will be permanent with long lasting impacts.  Others will work with provider partners ready to embrace a comprehensive solution to your community broadband needs.  This approach requires community leaders to adopt John Henry – the famous steel driving man – as the role model.  Here is some motivation

And then again, maybe not!  🙂 If not the lyrics, get inspiration from the teamwork!

This entry was posted in 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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