Registration for the Fall Broadband conference is open!
Come to the Grand Casino Mille Lacs on October 11-13 to explore how to maximize public and private broadband investments in your community. Hear from communities who have forged the trail for better infrastructure and graduated from fighting for access to creating avenues for every community member to have the devices and skills they need. Registration is now open!
Update on LTD Broadband, potential RDOF award winner
The ongoing saga continues with LTD Broadband and their application for RDOF awards. They were awarded the sole opportunity apply for funding to expand fiber in much of Minnesota. The opportunity has been controversial; even the Wall St Journal has looked closer at the LTD-RDOF broadband situation. Some question their ability to fulfill the order, should they get it. To that end, 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. Earlier this month, the PUC posted replies they received on the request.
On July 5, the PUC released their staff analysis of the situation and laid out options for the PUC to be discussion in a hybrid meeting on July 14 at 10am. They will be looking at the impact of losing/reallocating $311 million, of FCC role in not award to LTD and PUC’s authority in the case.
Tangentially, the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society recently released report on the differences between FTTH and Fixed Wireless. And RDOF winner, Resound Networks, reports that they can gets Gig speeds via fixed wireless.
Border to Border Grants
On July 1, $25 million went into MN General Fund for Broadband Grants. Applicants were asked to submit a pre-application by June 23; the Office of Broadband Development has posted MN Border-to-Border Broadband applications FAQs.
- Libraries to partner with FCC to share info on broadband funding
- The US needs National Strategy to wisely spend money to close the digital divide
- Sen Klobuchar’s Broadband Related Congressionally Directed Spending requests
- Vast Broadband is now called Bluepeak
- AT&T Investments $400 million to Connect Communities from 2019-2021
Local Broadband News
Hermantown announces a Broadband Task Force
Isanti, Chisago, Kanabec and Pine Counties
Update on East Central Energy’s push to get better broadband to Isanti, Chisago, Kanabec, and Pine Counties
Mille Lacs Tribal Area
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe gets $3.1 million funding (ARPA) to boost entrepreneurship
St Louis County
St Louis County (MN) has ARPA funds available for broadband
Upcoming Events, Opportunities and Resources
- EVENTS: Dates for future MN Broadband Task Force monthly meetings
- EVENT July 12: 4 Ways to Persuade ISPs to Invest in Your Community
- OPPORTUNITY: Advocacy and Campaigns Manager job at Muninetworks (ILSR)
- OPPORTUNITY: GIS Intern at Muninetworks (ILSR)
- OPPORTUNITY: Digital Communications Manager job at Muninetworks (ILSR)
- OPPORTUNITY: RFP for Broadband engineering and services in Crow Wing County
- OPPORTUNITY: Crow Wing County RFP for Broadband Service
- OPPORTUNITY: Broadband funding for Iron Range in MN
- OPPORTUNITY: Applications open for TechCongress Fellowships
- RESOURCE: NTIA Publishes FAQs for its New Grant Programs
- OPPORTUNITY: Common Sense is looking for Emergency Connectivity Fund Stories
- RESOURCE: Accelerate: A Community Broadband Planning Program
- RESOURCE: A tool to help you get yourself or friends low cost internet access
Bytes on Broadband: Feeling Patriotic? Maybe thank broadband
On the 4th of July, I went to three rallies, including a vigil with Women Against Military Madness and Veterans for Peace, an event I attend every Monday. This week I got talking to one of the vets, who asked what I did for work. I told him I advocated for better broadband throughout Minnesota. He seemed genuinely impressed.
He said, “That’s so valuable for helping people throughout the state get access to information and civic engagement tools.” We talked about how the internet makes it so easy it is to find civic activities in the TCs. I live 4 miles from the Capitol. I can be there. I can rally and watch what happens. I can sit outside and connect with policy makers. And in our new Zoom-aware world, I’d make the case that if you have broadband, you too can be in the room. You can connect with your reps in several ways. You can find information and colleagues online. And with enough broadband you can exercise your freedom of speech creating blogs, podcasts and videos.
I was humbled at the end of the conversation the veteran said – thank you for your service! I feel undeserving but I know many readers spend a lot of time at work and long hours after work striving to get better broadband to the four corners of Minnesota for the next generation and I’m going to pass on the gratitude to you – thank you for your service!