About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

Five rural broadband principles from Broadband Connects America

The Benton Foundation reports on the Broadband Connects America and their Principles to Connect Rural America. Here are the five principles:

  1. Funding should be simple and allocated directly to infrastructure needs, not directly to last-mile carriers.
  2. Closing the rural digital divide will require a combination of approaches that reflects the complexity of the challenges of deploying broadband to rural America.
  3. Deployment should be focused on achieving tangible, affordable universal service to all rural Americans rather than allocated based on profit per population density.
  4. Restoring net neutrality is essential to closing the rural digital divide.
  5. Rural Americans’ access to high-speed internet should not be disadvantaged because of geography.

Fond du Lac reservation is building FTTH to 1,800 homes by 2020

Minnesota Public Radio reports on the network deployments up on Fond du Lac…

The Fond du Lac band of Lake Superior Chippewa is getting into the internet business.

The band recently submitted a petition with the Federal Communications Commission to form a telecommunications company called Aaniin, which means “hello” in Ojibwe.

The band’s ambitious plan is to provide fiber-to-home high-speed broadband internet service to more than 1,800 homes, and anyone who lives in the network’s roughly 120-square mile service area, by 2020 — both band members and non-members alike.

Service is expected to begin at around $50 a month. People who live below the poverty line — which includes about a third of people living on the reservation — will qualify for subsidized rates.

Broadband may not seem like a big deal to city-dwellers accustomed to high-speed internet service, whether it’s via a fiber optic network, cable, or DSL.

But many people who live on and around the Fond du Lac reservation have never had access to high-speed internet in their homes, said the band’s planning director Jason Hollinday.

The FCC is looking for comments on broadband service for veterans

The FCC is looking for comments

WIRELINE COMPETITION BUREAU SEEKS COMMENT ON PROMOTING BROADBAND INTERNET ACCESS SERVICE FOR VETERANS
WC Docket No. 18-275
Comments Due: October 12, 2018
Reply Comments Due: October 29, 2018
In this Public Notice, as required by the RAY BAUM’S Act of 2018, the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) seeks information and data for the Federal Communications Commission’s (Commission) report on promoting broadband Internet access service for veterans.1 Section 504 of the RAY BAUM’S Act of 2018 directs the Commission to, within one year, “submit to Congress a report on
promoting broadband Internet access service for veterans, in particular lowincome veterans and veterans residing in rural areas” and “provide the public with notice and an opportunity to comment” in preparing the report.2 In the report, the Commission is required to examine veterans’ access to broadband and how to promote such access, and provide findings and recommendations for Congress on
those issues.3
Broadband is critical to ensuring that veterans, like all Americans, have full and meaningful participation in society. It ensures that veterans in particular can
access the resources they need to connect with health care services, find jobs, get information on and apply for military benefits, and generally participate in modern
society. The Commission’s top priority remains promoting digital opportunities for all Americans, including veterans. For example, the Commission’s recent telehealth Notice of Inquiry sought comment on “developing a Universal Service Fund pilot program to explore how to promote the use of broadband-enabled telehealth services . . . [among] low-income veterans, with a focus on such services
. . . delivered directly to patients outside of brick-and-mortar health care facilities.”4 The Notice of Inquiry identified the significant obstacles faced by lowincome
veterans and veterans residing in rural areas to obtain healthcare, and noted that veterans living in rural areas are among the largest population of … (read more)

PUC public hearing on Frontier – the frustration of a community held hostage by a broadband provider

Last night I attended the Public Utilities Commission meeting taking comments from frustrated Frontier customers. This is one of several meetings the PUC is having across the state. There were about 100 people in attendance. The meeting when from 6:00 until after 9:00. People spoke passionately.

The point that most people made was their frustration at having one choice. Most were in the position where there were no other broadband providers that reached their homes. And it sounds like the service is slow (often less that 1 Mbps) and unreliable. Someone mentioned their connection had cut out 75 times in a 24-hour span. Most were disappointed with customer service and billing issues.

One person mentioned that they opted for satellite instead of Frontier – but they were unhappy with satellite as well. Some used mobile hotspots when they really needed to get online. But others mentioned that hotspots were even an option because they leave/work in a cell dead zone.

People were frustrated because they couldn’t work from home. They could run credit cards in their small businesses. Kids couldn’t do homework. It took 5 hours to watch a movie on Netflix due to buffering. Other were worried because the phone went out when the internet went out – and again many were in cell dead zones. They worried about what they would do in case of emergency. How could they make a call to 911?

Living in the Cities, it’s easy to think that everyone has access. But the videos of this meeting are here as a reminder that not everyone does – and often it’s not their choice.

The PUC is accepting written comments until October 3, 2018.

Woodstock Communications expand coverage in Pipestone County

The Pipestone County Star reports…

Fiber optic cable is going in the ground between Edgerton and a communications tower northeast of Trosky as part of Woodstock Communications’ effort to expand internet service in the county.
The tower near Trosky is one of two existing towers the company plans to lease space on and connect fiber to as part of its effort to bring high-speed internet service to unserved parts of Pipestone County with a hybrid fiber-wireless system. The other tower is north of Pipestone.
Woodstock Communications also plans to build two new communications towers — one in Altona Township and one in Eden Township — that it will use to transmit wireless internet service. The towers are expected to provide broadband service within a six-mile radius.
When complete, the system is expected to serve 135 currently unserved households, 540 unserved businesses and one unserved community anchor institution, the Altona Township Hall. It’s expected to provide internet speeds of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloading and 3 Mbps uploading, meeting the federal government definition of broadband. In some areas, higher speeds of 75 Mbps downloading and 25 Mbps uploading are expected.
The fiber installation — about 15-20 miles in all — and tower construction are part of a $967,000 project for which Woodstock Communications received a $363,851 Border-to-Border Broadband Grant from the state of Minnesota last fall.

One out of four rural users say broadband speed is a major problem

Pew Research reports…

 

Fast, reliable internet service has become essential for everything from getting news to finding a job. But 24% of rural adults say access to high-speed internet is a major problem in their local community, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted earlier this year. An additional 34% of rural residents see this as a minor problem, meaning that roughly six-in-ten rural Americans (58%) believe access to high speed internet is a problem in their area.

Age and race and ethnicity also have an impact on broadband access – or thinking there’s a problem…

Concerns about access to high-speed internet are shared by rural residents from various economic backgrounds. For example, 20% of rural adults whose household income is less than $30,000  a year say access to high speed internet is a major problem, but so do 23% of rural residents living in households earning $75,000 or more annually. These sentiments are also similar between rural adults who have a bachelor’s or advanced degree and those with lower levels of educational attainment.

There are, however, some differences by age and by race and ethnicity. Rural adults ages 50 to 64 are more likely than those in other groups to see access to high-speed internet as a problem where they live. Nonwhites who live in a rural area are more likely than their white counterparts to say this is a major problem (31% vs. 21%). (Racial and ethnic differences are also present across a number of other perceived problems for communities, ranging from traffic to crime.)