eNews: MN Monthly Recap June 2022: Legislative & funding updates

Blandin Community Broadband Program Update
While Minnesota plans for federal investments in digital equity and adoption, Blandin Foundation will be exploring the ways they can adapt to make sure rural community interests are centered and supported. As they grow into a new chapter of their work, they will be phasing out existing broadband programming and grantmaking.

Save the Date! 2022 Blandin Broadband Conference
Join the Blandin Foundation for the final Blandin broadband conference at Grand Casino Mille Lacs on October 11-13 to explore how to maximize public and private broadband investments in your community.

Call for MN Border-to-Border Broadband Applications
Applications are open for Border to Border Grants. The funding available is $95 million. As designated in the 2022 legislative session, $25 million has been appropriated from state general revenue funds as available funding for the next round of the Minnesota broadband grant program.

MTA and MREA ask PUC to relook at LTD’s status as ETC
Minnesota Telephone Alliance (MTA) and the Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA) filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, asking them to revoke the ETC status for LTD Broadband. LTD has qualified to apply for federal (RDOF) money. For more than a year, communities who might be served by LTD have been waiting to hear on their status. Many have concerns about LTD’s ability. LTD needs the ETC designation from the MN PUC to qualify for the funds. The PUC asked for community comments on the petition to look again at LTD; those comments have been filed and currently there is an opportunity for others to reply to the comments. Then the PUC will decide if they will look into the revoking the ETC designation.

MN Broadband Task Force Meeting May 2022: Cybersecurity
The Task Force heard from several experts from the field of cybersecurity. They talked about the Legislature including a letter the Task Force had sent to the policymakers asking them to consider a greater investment in broadband grants than had been on the table.

State Policy Issues (in reverse chronological order)

Federal Policy

Vendor News

Local Broadband News

Appleton & Madison
Federal broadband funding lessons from 2010 help with funding today: Madison & Appleton MN finally getting fiber!

Bemidji’s broadband leaves them poised to succeed – says Dave Hengel

Ceylon approves broadband contract with FREA (Martin County)

Crosby & Ironton MN
CTC and Crow Wing County pursue CARES funds for Crosby and Ironton MN

After 12 years the Computer Commuter (mobile computer lab) rides into the sunset (LqP County)

Duluth resident skeptical of provider follow through with public funds

Grand Marais
Grand Marais broadband project nominated for national award

DEED Commissioner and Nuvera CEO talk about increased need for upload speeds in Hutchinson MN

Kandiyohi County
Kandiyohi County, Charter Communications partner on $800,000 broadband project to serve 170 customers with ARPA funds

Le Sueur County
Le Sueur County Broadband Fair getting local attention to build greatest demand for better broadband

Litchfield gets fiber from Meeker Cooperative (Meeker County)

Little Falls
Little Falls and Morrison County making plans for better broadband

Madison Mercantile: When broadband makes community easier (LqP County)

Mankato Clinic expands virtual care across 13 facilities (Blue Earth County)

Rural Minnesota
Being online helps older adults learn about and access some activities in rural Minnesota

St Louis County
St. Louis County says yes to Rice Lake broadband project

Upcoming Events, Opportunities and Resources

Stirring the Pot – by Bill Coleman

As my work with Blandin Foundation comes to a close, I want to pay tribute to all of the community leaders with whom I have worked with over the past 15 years.  Broadband development in rural places is never easy.  Community broadband initiatives can require hundreds of hours of staff and volunteer time with no guarantee of success.  Community leaders never asked for this role; they generally have their hands full with traditional community infrastructure like sewer, water and roads.  Insightful leaders recognized, some sooner than others, that the community needed to get engaged with energy and persistence to stimulate investment.  Minnesota is lucky to have leaders like those who have participated in the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition.  If not for those volunteers, the legislature might have never continued to fund the broadband program.

It has been very gratifying and lots of fun to work on broadband with all of you.  Thank you!

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s