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

I’m thankful for broadband
We are sharing stories from the frontlines to help motivate and inspire decisionmakers as they do the important work of planning for a tech-connected future in rural Minnesota. Help spread the word by sharing or contributing a video.

MN Broadband Task Force Meeting Feb

The Task Force reflected on last year and planned for this year. The Office of Broadband Development gave an update.  There was also a discussion on the Line Extension Program bill to help broadband providers reach single remote households through a reserve auction for up to $25,000 per home.

State Policy Issues (in reverse chronological order)

Federal Policy Issues (in reverse chronological order)

COVID Topics

Vendor News

Local Broadband News

Alexandria and East Central MN
Two MN communities make ICF 2022 Smart21 list: Congrats to Alexandria Lakes Area and East Central Region

Fiber is lifting rural areas – such as Bemidji’s Locate218

Carlton County
Carlton County considers ARPA money – broadband makes shortlist

East Central MN
East Central Minnesota may get new broadband options from East Central Energy

Houston County
New FirstNet Cell Site Launches in Hokah to Support First Responders (Houston County MN)

Jackson County
Jackson County Commissioners hears about broadband plans from Federated Rural Electric

Kandiyohi and Meeker Counties
Kandiyohi County and Meeker County working with Vibrant on ReConnect grant

Le Sueur County
Frustration in Le Sueur County about being stalled as RDOF gives dibs to LTD – but so far no contract

Hospitals in La Crosse and Mankato to get Tech upgrades

Morse Township and Ely Area
Fixed wireless broadband expanded to Morse Township and Ely area

Mayo Clinic’s mobile telehealth unit reaches 1000 visits

Wadena, Park Rapids and Bagley
Mayors of Wadena, Park Rapids and Bagley talk to Senator Klobuchar about infrastructure including broadband

Welch MN
US Congress hears about rural broadband need from woman from Welch (MN)

Upcoming Events, Opportunities and Resources

Stirring the Pot – by Bill Coleman

Over the past year, Blandin Foundation has worked with eight rural communities on its Community Broadband Resources: Accelerate! Program. Each community recruited a team of at least eight broadband champions – elected officials and staff, school technology coordinators and superintendents, economic development and chamber officials, and citizen volunteers.  I thank them for their dedication and congratulate them on their progress!

The broadband shortcomings in these communities – six counties, one tribe and one city – do not revolve around getting good broadband to one or two homes, or even a neighborhood.  These communities face persistent and systemic shortcomings crossing, in most cases, the majority of the land area in these places.  Even where cities are considered served, community surveys indicate that many people are unhappy with the reliability of the service and the poor customer service.  The same surveys have documented the efforts that individuals have made in an attempt to obtain broadband services.  Some respondents have called area providers regularly to ask about service availability. many others have simply given up and adapted as best they can to combinations of Internet service – cellular hotspots, traditional satellite, inconsistent fixed wireless service.  Their stories are amazing.

Through the Accelerate Program, these community leaders are creating and pursuing the deployment of widespread, high-quality broadband solutions covering large areas.  They are working intensely with providers of all types in a variety of ways.  Minnesota should not be pursuing strategies or passing legislation that supports treating broadband as a question of getting broadband to one or two, one or two hundred or one or two thousand houses.  We can and need to do a lot better than this type of small thinking.  High quality, at scale.  Solve the problem.


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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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