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.
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)
- Gov Walz’s broadband leaning priorities in MN supplemental budget
- MN Senate Committee talk about broadband, DNR licenses and cable line extension program
- MN Broadband Coalition Update: New Broadband Bill Introduced at Legislature
- Questions about Broadband Line Extension bill at MN Legislature (HF3605) – maybe a topic for Mn Task Force on Feb 23
- MN Broadband Bill (HF3605) introduced on a broadband line extension reverse auction and broadband easements for all providers
- Nurse Licensure Compact would allow nurses licensure to span beyond state borders
- Telehealth services make students’ shortlist of legislative needs
- The why’s and how’s of getting broadband to rural Minnesota
- Office of Broadband Development Overview and Broadband Funding Streams
- 16 MN Organizations get funding in latest Emergency Connectivity Fund awards to schools and libraries
- First Week of MN Legislative Session Recap from MN Broadband Coalition
- Session Daily reports on Broadband presentation to House committee
- Minnesota Rural Electric Association says broadband a top legislative priority
- Office of Broadband Development presents to MN House Committee – hearing a sense of urgency!
Federal Policy Issues (in reverse chronological order)
- Senator Smith on Community Connection Grant Program Act at tool to lift community
- Senator Smith Introduces Bill to Increase Rural Broadband Access
- FCC announces latest RDOF winners – None in Minnesota
- Senators Smith, Thune, Wicker, Casey introduce Bipartisan Legislation to increase Access to Rural Broadband
- Telehealth proves helpful even before COVID
- ILSR looks at RDOF one year in – some good, some stuck and some remain to be seen
- Emergency Broadband Benefit Program helped low income households keep broadband but didn’t get as many new people online
- States will be working to create a digital equity plan
- Arvig offers advice for communities looking to partner with broadband providers
- Paul Bunyan Communications Wins Smart Rural Community Showcase Award
- NASA concerned about SpaceX’s plan to launch thousands more satellites
- The sky is falling! Or maybe it’s just SpaceX satellites
- Arvig upgrades network to work with WiFi 6
- Premium SpaceX gets 150-500 Mbps download for $500 per month
- Matchmaking app for finding a lawyer made in MN
- FTTP broadband providers MetroNet, Vexus merge
- FCC announce latest RDOF winners including ITC and Red River Rural Telephone
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
Kandiyohi and Meeker Counties
Kandiyohi County and Meeker County working with Vibrant on ReConnect grant
Morse Township and Ely Area
Fixed wireless broadband expanded to Morse Township and Ely area
Wadena, Park Rapids and Bagley
Mayors of Wadena, Park Rapids and Bagley talk to Senator Klobuchar about infrastructure including broadband
Upcoming Events, Opportunities and Resources
- NDIA introduces new National Digital Navigator Corps!
- Five Super Helpful (and Free) Digital Literacy Resources
- Access Granted: Rural Broadband Options, Obstacles, and Solutions – making the broadband case
- American Connection Corps Project Year End Report: Emerging leaders help bring broadband to rural areas
- OPPORTUNITY: Network and Security Administrator wanted at Blandin Foundation
- OPPORTNITY: Aspen Institute is looking for nonprofits interested in a Digital Equity Accelerator
- OPPORTUNITY: USDA Extends Deadline for ReConnect Program Funding to March 9
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.