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.

MRBC Update: Senate Tucks Broadband Funding into Jobs Omnibus Bill

An update from the MN Broadband Coalition…

Senate Tucks Broadband Funding into Jobs Omnibus Bill
The Minnesota Senate amended the Jobs and Economic Development Omnibus Bill on Monday, June 21 to include $70 million for the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program. As we have said in this space before, the Legislature’s final weeks are fluid, and nothing is a sure thing until the vote is completed on a bill. Such is the case with broadband funding this week.
Legislative leadership’s plan for broadband was to include it in a bonding bill. However, as the special session has progressed, Senate leadership became less confident in the prospects of a bonding bill meeting the supermajority threshold necessary to pass the House. Since regular budget bills require a simple majority, they decided to add the broadband funding to the Jobs Omnibus Bill. For those keeping score at home, this is broadband’s third home this year: agriculture, bonding, and now jobs.
The Senate took up the Jobs bill Tuesday, June 22 and eventually passed it 45-21.
We do not know what the House will do with this bill or if the Jobs bill will be the final home for broadband this year. Regardless, the funding is agreed upon by the House, Senate, and Governor and we are optimistic they will not leave Saint Paul without funding it. Leaders have said they want to have the budget closed up by Friday. The state will officially shut down on July 1 without a budget, but various aspects of state government—including campground reservations, state employee layoffs, and road construction projects—will start winding down by the end of this week if the Legislature doesn’t act. They have lots of incentive to get the job done! We will keep you updated.

From MN Broadband Coalition – Action Alert! Broadband Funding

From the Minnesota Broadband Coalition…

Legislators are back at the Capitol for a special session. Budget bills began to move through the process this weekend and we expect them to continue working through June 30. We can’t let them leave Saint Paul without funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program!
Right now, leaders have agreed to put at least $70 million for the grant program in the bonding bill. This bill requires a supermajority approval, which means Republicans and DFLers must vote for it.
We need your help! Please contact your legislators and urge them to pass a bonding bill that includes at least $70 million for broadband funding during the special session. Make sure to let them know you don’t want to see any changes to broadband policy language, too! The Coalition has opposed the proposed policy changes like adding “fixed wireless” to state broadband definitions.
We are asking you to email your state senator and your state representative TODAY and urge them to pass a bonding bill during the special session.
Tell them:

  • Keep their promise at the end of regular session to put $70 million in the grant program.
  • Around 157,000 Minnesotan households lack access to the lowest speeds considered broadband.
  • Pass a clean funding bill without any policy changes.
  • Without a bonding bill, the broadband grant program will have no funding and rural Minnesota will continue to be left behind.
  • Tell them your broadband story! If you have broadband, let them know how it has improved your life. If you don’t, tell them how it would help you and your community.

Contact Info

Please email your local legislators and the four legislative leaders

  • Find your local legislators’ contact information here.
  • Email the four legislative leaders here.
    • Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka
    • Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman
    • Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent
    • House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt

Save the Date! Building on Broadband: Inspiring Progress

From the Blandin Foundation; this is a fun opportunity for anyone to speak up and tell your inspiring story, show us your innovation or ask us to get someone to speak to you…

Mark Your Calendar!
October 12-14, 2021

#mnbroadband

For our 2021 virtual broadband conference, we want to hear from YOU!

Yes, as the pandemic wanes, we’re planning another online broadband conference for 2021. But hear us out. This will not be a nine-hour webinar!

We want this conference to be your chance to be heard, and to interact with others from around the state. What’s the best thing you’ve experienced/learned around broadband or technology this year? What have you been working on? What has inspired you? If presenting isn’t your thing, don’t worry – suggest a TED talk we can discuss, pose an open space question, or better yet make your own short video. The sky’s the limit! See the Request for Proposals and submit your idea today!

Next, attend one of eight regional meetings being planned around the state to share your broadband story, to learn about the state of broadband, and plans around Federal funding opportunities in your neck-of-the-woods.

Finally, join us online for a 3-day, statewide event to hear what’s happening across the state – what is being accomplished, what is still needed, and how we can inspire each other to keep at it!

This year, we’ve all lived through a shared, but unique, experience. What was yours like? How did broadband help or hinder – or motivate – you, or your community?

We know rural Minnesotans keenly felt how important a strong, reliable broadband connection is. When kids can’t go to school, adults can’t work, and families can’t access needed resources, our communities suffer. By working together, though, our communities can forge solutions. Countless rural Minnesota communities have shown the way. Your community can too!

We’ll be in touch again soon with more information:

  • We will share information on the regional meetings as details become available.
  • Conference registration coming in August!

Questions? Visit the conference webpage

NTIA Creates First Interactive Map to Help Public See the Digital Divide across the Country

The NTIA unveils a cool new tool. I’ve showing a screenshot of MN, focusing in on Itasca County…

Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a new publicly available digital map that displays key indicators of broadband needs across the country. This is the first interactive, public map that allows users to explore different datasets about where people do not have quality Internet access.

The public “Indicators of Broadband Need” tool released today puts on one map, for the first time, data from both public and private sources. It contains data aggregated at the county, census tract, and census block level from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), M-Lab, Ookla and Microsoft. Speed-test data provided by M-Lab and Ookla help to illustrate the reality that communities experience when going online, with many parts of the country reporting speeds that fall below the FCC’s current benchmark for fixed broadband service of 25 Mbps download, 3 Mbps upload. This is the first map that allows users to graphically compare and contrast these different data sources.

 

“As we release this important data to the public, it paints a sobering view of the challenges facing far too many Americans as they try to connect to high-speed broadband and participate in our modern economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “In his American Jobs Plan, President Biden has proposed a once-in-a-lifetime investment that would finally connect one hundred percent of the country to reliable and affordable high-speed broadband.”

The map also puts poverty and lack of broadband access on the same page. The dataset allows you to see where high-poverty communities are located and how that relates to internet usage patterns, as well as to a lack of computers and related equipment.  The map also shows usage patterns in tribal communities, which have historically suffered from lack of internet access. Users can toggle the separate data sets on and off to compare information, and search for specific locations, including Tribal lands and minority-serving institutions, to gain a better understanding of where broadband needs are greatest.

“Any effort to close the digital divide starts with solid data, and NTIA continues to help policymakers make more informed decisions on expanding broadband access,” said Acting NTIA Administrator Evelyn Remaley. “Now, the public can benefit from our platform to see which areas of the country still don’t have broadband at speeds needed to participate in the modern economy.”

“Broadband is no longer nice to have. It’s need to have. To ensure that every household has the internet access necessary for success in the digital age, we need better ways to accurately measure where high-speed service has reached Americans and where it has not,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “The latest mapping effort by NTIA is a welcome new tool that provides valuable insight into the state of broadband across the country. Kudos to Secretary Raimondo and Acting Assistant Secretary Remaley for their leadership. The FCC looks forward to continuing our close collaboration with the Commerce Department and other federal partners to fulfill the goal of connecting 100 percent of Americans.”

NTIA also offers to state governments and federal partners a geographic information system (GIS) platform called the National Broadband Availability Map (NBAM) that provides more complex tools for analyzing broadband access, such as the ability to upload GIS files to compare proposed projects. Earlier this month, NTIA announced that Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, and South Dakota have joined the growing roster of state participants in the NBAM, bringing the total number of participating states to 36. The mapping platform allows these states and others to better inform broadband projects and funding decisions.

MN Legislature is still talking about omnibus bills

In the spirit of honesty, I’m traveling so I’m not sure that this is the latest news but here’s what Pioneer Press is reported yesterday

The Minnesota Legislature on Friday neared the close of the first week of a special legislative session without passing and sending a single budget bill to the governor’s desk.

After briefly debating a jobs and economic development omnibus bill on Friday, the Senate adjourned for the weekend before casting a vote on the measure. The bill was amended to include oil refinery safety measures then abruptly tabled. The Senate a day earlier teed up budget bills dealing with agriculture, commerce, outdoor heritage and higher education for a vote but couldn’t pass them since the House had yet to vote them out of that chamber.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the House on Friday launched an hours-long filibuster over an agriculture and broadband omnibus spending bill. On Thursday, GOP lawmakers spent 12 hours stalling a vote on a commerce and energy bill and they said four budget bills set to come to the floor hadn’t been properly vetted and should return to committees for review.

IEDC report on how economic developers are expanding broadband access

The IEDC has written a guidebook of sort to help economic developers promote better broadband. As they say…

In response to the market’s failure to provide universal, affordable, reliable access, public networks and publicly facilitated solutions continue to grow. Economic developers play important roles in planning and  implementing these solutions, which this paper shows in three main sections:

  • A broadband “crash course” – key things to know about how broadband works
  • An overview of different communities’ strategic approaches and technical solutions
  • Actions economic development organizations are taking to expand access

And…

Five in‐epth case studies are included showing how economic development organizations have played a  central role in improving broadband access in their communities. Those roles include:

  • Convening stakeholders,
  • Gathering data,
  • Engaging in strategic planning,
  • Helping evaluate solutions, and
  • Helping secure financing for solutions.

This is a great tool if you’re in a position where you have to sell the idea of broadband. If you’ve been doing this for a while, the story won’t be new but the stats are. Here are just a few:

  • In 2021, major corporations, including Ford in Michigan and Target in Minnesota, have said they are giving up significant office space because of their changing workplace practices.
  • 51% of respondents said their corporate clients are now considering moving their business operations
  • A joint study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Amazon found that in Virginia alone, universal broadband would mean at least $2.24 billion increased annual sales, $1.29 billion annual value added, 9,415 added jobs, and $452.4 million in annual wages.

The report also, as indicated goes into the nuts and bolt of broadband, such as…

  • Why satellite access doesn’t substitute for fixed access
  • Why 5g isn’t the answer to better community access
  • The digital divide: Who doesn’t have internet and why?

They even draw a few examples from Minnesota, especially Chisago County…

Chisago County, Minn. Case highlights:

  • Solution involved collaboration with incumbent ISP
  • Public funding layered on private investment got higher-quality service
  • Help from a rural community foundation
  • Role of survey data and citizen involvement

Minnesota has a couple of advantages when it comes to expanding broadband service. One of those is a longstanding commitment by the state to the goal of universal broadband access for residents (at speeds of 25/3 by 2022 and 100/20 by 2026). The other is the Blandin Foundation, which, as part of its vision to create healthy, inclusive rural communities in the state, has focused for years on helping expand broadband access.

In 2015, Chisago County, located roughly an hour north of Minneapolis-St. Paul, began its broadband efforts in earnest. The work was spearheaded by the Chisago County Housing & Redevelopment Authority – Economic Development Authority (HRA-EDA) and its executive director, Nancy Hoffman. (Hoffman previously worked on broadband access in another rural Minnesota county and also has served as chair of the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition.)

Chisago County was accepted into the Blandin Broadband Communities program, an intensive, two-year process in which rural communities define their technology goals, measure current levels of broadband access and use, and access technical assistance and resources to meet their goals. Each community also has the opportunity to apply to the foundation for a $75,000 matching grant for locally developed projects.

Led by a local steering committee, in 2016, one of the first actions was to survey county residents about their current broadband access, whether they would subscribe to better service and for what they would use it (such surveys are useful both to determine demand and to use in grant applications). The results found that 94 percent of residents would subscribe to better broadband service for uses that included improved quality of life, education, telecommuting and starting a business. Seventy-six percent of Chisago County working residents commute out of the county, so part of the goal from the HRA-EDA’s perspective was to give people the opportunity to work, shop and stay closer to home by telecommuting or starting their own business. The study also showed that numerous homebased businesses paid too much for poor service or had to find other locations to upload or download files.

Once the county had data on unserved/underserved areas and potential demand for improved service, the technical solution became the question. The steering committee began by talking to incumbent providers (of which there were seven in the county, including telephone and cable providers CenturyLink and Frontier).

They found a willing partner in CenturyLink, which had received federal Connect America Funds (CAF II) that it planned to use to upgrade service in half of Sunrise Township using DSL technology; CAF II speed requirements are just 10/1 Mbp. (Frontier served the other half of the town and declined to participate). To secure faster, more reliable service, the township proposed to invest local funding, combined with a grant from the state’s Border to Border Broadband grant program, to prompt CenturyLink to build a fiber-to-the-home network that met (at minimum) the state speed goals of 100/20 Mbps.

A petition signed by 50 percent of the residents in favor of the project helped spur Sunrise Township to action. The township raised the funds by bonding through a subordinated service district, assessed by parcel, rather than property value. After seeing Sunrise Township’s success, other communities began pursuing similar strategies to improve service. Fish Lake Township, also in Chisago County, has since completed a project in which it raised funds for the local share by issuing tax abatement bonds (property owners are assessed by value). Nessel Township followed suit the next year with the same financing model. The cost savings by having high-speed Internet much outweighed the additional cost the residents pay, which is about $100 a year or $10 a month.

Takeaways:

  • Get the right people together. Don’t worry about titles. Bring in people who get things done.
  • Cultivate personal passions. Harness the energy of where the group wants to go. Don’t fight it.
  • Show people they’re not alone. Work on building relationships of mutual trust. Relationships will carry the work forward.
  • Show successes early and often. Break down the project into bite-size pieces that the community can grab hold of and achieve. Celebrate the successes to re-energize before starting on the next piece. Sources: Interview with Nancy Hoffman; Blandin Broadband Communities Program, Blandin Foundation

And a few other mentions…

  • [Federal covid-19 relief funds] Many states and communities used CARES Act funds for infrastructure projects (which had to be used by the end of 2020, limiting flexibility). Itasca County, Minnesota, committed $293,000 in CARES funds to complete four projects in the county. The city of Chesapeake, Va., used it to fast-track the engineering design for a 170-mile fiber backbone that will connect over 200 sites and lay a foundation for gigabit broadband.
  • The Cargill Foundation, Blandin Foundation, Bush Foundation, and numerous other foundations and businesses based in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region donated $2.35 million in grants to the Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity (MBCRE) and Partnership for a ConnectedMN to address digital inequities that affect many Minnesota students. Grants fund the distribution of laptops, fiber internet installation, training for digital literacy, and more

 

Blandin, Northland, IRRRB helps Arrowhead leaders focus on broadband

Grand Rapids Herald Review reports

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, local leaders throughout Minnesota’s Arrowhead Region (Aitkin, Cook, Carlton, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis Counties) came together to assess their communities’ strengths and challenges in building and sustaining broadband-powered economies. Based on what they learned, eight projects emerged and will be supported through regional grants.

“Arrowhead Regional leaders had the courage and tenacity to dedicate time during a pandemic to look deeply at how broadband was propelling or, because of the lack of it, preventing community growth,” said Tuleah Palmer, president and CEO at Blandin Foundation. “These small grants will kindle the real power of this initiative – the collaborative, innovative spirit living within our rural communities.”

Here are some of the grants that were funded…

  • With an $8,000 grant, St. Louis County School District 2142 will map students’ homes within the St. Louis County School District (including Nett Lake, NorthWoods, Tower, Babbitt, Cherry and SouthRidge) to determine existing broadband speeds and plan for a wireless broadband network to encompass the 3,850 square miles of the district. Leading the project, Range Association of Municipalities and Schools (RAMS) is working in partnership with the Northeast Service Cooperative on a proposed wireless network build off their middle mile fiber network that runs throughout the service area. Ultimately, the project hopes to serve many of the district’s 2,200 students at the lowest possible cost.
  • Iron Range Tourism Bureau will develop a co-working space and expand their outreach and recruitment of remote workers. This project builds on their Hello Iron Range initiative, a talent attraction initiative that promotes the region’s workforce opportunities and connects incoming and existing residents to local networking events and resources.
  • Minnesota’s Children’s Press will create a new youth-, knowledge- and tech-driven genre of literature with help from a $35,000 grant. Through this project, youth will collect and map locations of litter in Grand Marais and on the shores of Lake Superior using ArcGIS Mapping software. Following data analysis, youth will write, illustrate, and publish a book about their findings and solutions. An outreach campaign will focus on both the findings of the project as well as the process and it will include presentations to local leaders, workshop offerings, a website housing free civic digital journalism resources and a social media series.
  • Smart North will plan for and implement a pilot project for smart streetlights and mobility hubs in the City of Grand Rapids through the support of a $50,000 grant. This infrastructure will allow city departments to access and share data, enable robust 5G connectivity throughout the city and provide municipal WiFi access. In partnership with The Grand Iron Range CAV Initiative, this effort will support the test of the country’s first autonomous shuttle vehicle in a rural, all-season community.
  • Northspan seeks to strengthen equitable digital access across the Arrowhead region through their Welcoming Community initiative with the support of a $50,000 grant. Through this project, Northspan will gather regional broadband data to create a baseline for fair, equal access to broadband and technology and explore how it impacts people of various race/ethnicities, income, education and ages within the Arrowhead region. This data will inform a series of conversations and engagements on why digital equity gaps exist and inform programming to address gaps.

EVENTS: 100 rural MN gatherings, 100 rural MN communities.

From our friends at 100 Rural Women…

Join us this summer as we will be “traveling” (virtually) across the state of Minnesota by region during the summer of 2021. Overall we will hold 30 meetings across Minnesota in an effort to create connections, explore existing formal and informal networks of rural women and discuss what leadership looks like for women. Our goal is to ignite action in community, leadership, civic engagement, and rural entrepreneurship, while simultaneously identifying opportunities and connecting local women to each other.

Click here to Sign up for a gathering

I’m hoping folks will join and make sure that broadband is a hot topic!

OPPORTUNITY: Apply for TechCongress Fellowship (deadline Aug 3)

This looks like such a great opportunity…

Since our founding in 2015, TechCongress has brought 45 incredible technologists to Congress. By bringing their technical expertise to Capitol Hill, our fellows have helped shape this country’s technology policy and fallen in love with the impact they can make.
During the last year, despite facing adversity from the pandemic, our fellows came together, dug in their heels, and went to work; they drafted major provisions of the COVID-19 relief bills, they helped author the House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee report on Big Tech, and carried out many of the House Modernization Committee’s recommendations to make Congress more effective, efficient and transparent.
We are thrilled to build on this momentum and announce that applications are now open for the 2022 Congressional Innovation Fellowship!
We are searching for talented technologists, engineers, and data analysts who are passionate about bringing their technical expertise to Congress to help shape current and future tech policy.
Over the next six weeks, we’ll be holding networking events and information calls where you can ask us questions, meet the fellows, and learn more about the fellowship. Applications will close at 11:59 pm ET on Tuesday, August 3rd.
Want to learn more? Join us for our first informational call on Wednesday, June 23 at 5pm ET! Be sure to also listen to our podcast, check out our website, and follow us on Twitter for more updates!

HBC offers free internet to guests in transitional housing in Winona

HBC reports

Helping the homeless has been heavy on the heart of Carla Burton, founder and Executive Director of Grace Place in Winona for many years. It has been part of her vision since Grace Place Ministry began in 1992, offering shelter and safe housing for young, single mothers.

Burton’s dream of being able to offer transitional housing to help individuals and families get back on their feet came true this past January when Grace Place purchased the former Catholic Worker House at 802 W. 6th Street in Winona. With the help of volunteers, the home has been refreshed with new paint and repairs made.

Burton said it was a challenge to get the home ready for families, “We purchased the home in January 2020 and we all know what happened a few months later with COVID-19. But we had the help of volunteers who repainted walls, and Habitat for Humanity took care of needed repairs,” she said.

For its part, Hiawatha Broadband Communications (HBC) will be donating Internet service for the home’s guests. Burton said having access to the Internet will play an important role in getting people back on their feet.

“Without Internet what would you do,” asked Burton. “Nearly everything needed to get a job requires an Internet connection including learning new skills, finding job opportunities, and emailing job applications and resumes.”

Two things that are close to my heart! Having volunteered time with people experiencing homelessness, I have seen how important broadband access is. It is the connection to a potential job, to friends and family, to finding resources such as a bed for the night or getting into the system for more support. It is a gift that is like offering someone a fishing pole. It’s a tool to help someone help themselves.

Kandiyohi County commits $1.3 million ARP funding to broadband

Gov Tech reports

Kandiyohi County, as part of the federal American Rescue Plan coronavirus relief package, will receive over the next year approximately $8.3 million. The funds can be used to pay for a wide range of projects, programs and personnel, as long as it can be tied back to the COVID-19 pandemic.

An area getting a lot of attention is high-speed broadband. The rules of the American Rescue Plan say funds can be used for critical infrastructure projects, including broadband investments that can provide 1,000 megabits per second upload and download speeds.

At a work session June 10, there was a consensus of the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners to spend a large chunk of the county’s allotment, perhaps as much as 75 percent, to help fund several broadband improvement projects across the county.

Here are the specifics…

The County Board began to make good on that consensus Tuesday, committing $1,314,386 to a project that will expand high-speed broadband to Dovre, Mamre, St. Johns and Arctander townships.

EVENT Oct 12-14: Building on Broadband: Inspiring Progress

From the Blandin Foundation on the annual broadband conference…

Mark Your Calendar! Building on Broadband: Inspiring Progress
October 12-14, 2021

For our 2021 virtual broadband conference, we want to hear from YOU!

Yes, as the pandemic wanes, we’re planning another online broadband conference for 2021. But hear us out. This will not be a nine-hour webinar!

We want this conference to be your chance to be heard, and to interact with others from around the state. What’s the best thing you’ve experienced/learned around broadband or technology this year? What have you been working on? What has inspired you? If presenting isn’t your thing, don’t worry – suggest a TED talk we can discuss, pose an open space question, or better yet make your own short video. The sky’s the limit! See the Request for Proposals and submit your idea today!

Next, attend one of eight regional meetings being planned around the state to share your broadband story, to learn about the state of broadband, and plans around Federal funding opportunities in your neck-of-the-woods.

Finally, join us online for a 3-day, statewide event to hear what’s happening across the state – what is being accomplished, what is still needed, and how we can inspire each other to keep at it!

This year, we’ve all lived through a shared, but unique, experience. What was yours like? How did broadband help or hinder – or motivate – you, or your community?

We know rural Minnesotans keenly felt how important a strong, reliable broadband connection is. When kids can’t go to school, adults can’t work, and families can’t access needed resources, our communities suffer. By working together, though, our communities can forge solutions. Countless rural Minnesota communities have shown the way. Your community can too!

We’ll be in touch again soon with more information:

  • We will share information on the regional meetings as details become available.
  • Conference registration coming in August!

Questions? Visit the conference webpage or contact Mary Magnuson at memamagnuson@blandinfoundation.org

NTIA Launches Updated Federal Broadband Funding Guide

From BroadbandUSA…

Access the updated BroadbandUSA Federal Funding Guide here!

…NTIA released an updated database with information on more than 80 federal programs across 14 federal agencies whose funding can be used for broadband-related purposes. This comprehensive “one-stop shop” for broadband resources, created with the help of participating federal agencies, supports the Biden Administration’s push for universal high-speed internet access and focus on closing the digital divide. This site also fulfills an obligation in the ACCESS BROADBAND Act to provide a central website for potential applicants seeking federal broadband funding.

Funding opportunities include direct grants, loans, indirect support, and discounts for industry, state and local governments, schools, libraries, small businesses, and other community institutions that are interested in expanding and improving broadband access. Visitors to the website can search for programs by agency, program purpose, and eligible recipients. As agencies release new funding opportunities, NTIA will update the site. The information is also available as a downloadable spreadsheet to allow users to sort the material by selected criteria.

Notably, the current database features many new programs, including the Department of Commerce’s Connecting Minority Communities program, Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, and Broadband Infrastructure Program. Other new programs include the Department of Treasury’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, of which broadband is an eligible activity; the Department of Agriculture’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants; and the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Broadband Benefit programEmergency Connectivity FundCOVID-19 Telehealth program, and Connected Care Pilot program.

The launch of this latest round of federal broadband funding updates will help ensure that the public has easy access to the most up-to-date information possible to best facilitate broadband buildout and economic development. Feedback on the site is welcomed; please contact BroadbandUSA@ntia.doc.gov to provide input.

EVENT June 23: Lunch Bunch – MN speed tests and mapping

Each month the Blandin Foundation hosts two conversation or lunch bunch sessions. The first Lunch Bunch in June happens next week on June 23 noon to 1pm. Here’s the topic:

Speed tests connect users, providers and policymakers.

Speed tests are tools that households can use to let broadband providers and policymakers know what they are experiencing. They are used to create maps that help providers decide who needs better broadband, help policymakers decide who needs attention and people decide where to relocate homes or businesses. But what do we do when different tests show different results? What do different tests consider? And what are contributing factors?

We have a few folks on the frontlines willing to come to talk to us about the tests and we want to hear from you. What are you experiencing? Do you have questions?

Pleased to have folks from Geo Partners (Glenn Fishbine and Paul Demming) and a few providers (Travis Carter from USI) and hopefully Steve Howard from Paul Bunyan (based on availability) join us for the conversation.

Register now!

OPPORTUNITY: Applications for schools and libraries to get tech equipment open June 29

Telecompetitor reports

Schools and libraries can start filing applications on June 29 for financial support for various tech equipment, including laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connectivity for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons. The funding comes available by way of the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund, the FCC announced.

The fund itself is the largest single effort for student connectivity in the nation’s history, according to acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel It was designed to build on the the processes and structures of the existing E-Rate program, a Universal Service Fund (USF) program aimed at assisting schools and libraries with technology and connectivity funding support.

The need is evident, according to the FCC, with as many as 17 million children without the broadband access they need for remote learning. Applications will be accepted through Aug. 13. The FCC will also hold a webinar on June 25th at at 2:00 p.m. EDT to outline the program and discuss the application process.