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.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Grant for $100,000

It’s not necessarily for broadband – but certainly broadband adoption could be a piece of any plan submitted to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of MN Foundation

The Blue Cross Foundation announces a funding opportunity of up to a total of $1M to further health equity in communities across Minnesota. Healthy Communities: Health Equity in Action provides grants up to $100,000 per year each, and applicants can apply for one- or two-year grants. With this funding opportunity, we invite eligible applicants to propose projects that address at least one of the following social or economic determinants of health:

  • Community Safety – systems change that contributes to violence reduction.
  • Education – systems change that contributes to quality care and education for children ages birth through age 5.
  • Employment – systems change that contributes to living wage jobs, and workplace policies supporting health and safety.
  • Family and Social Support – systems change that contributes to building social capital and increasing civic engagement that builds upon community knowledge, skills, and wisdom.
  • Income – systems change that contributes to housing stability and affordability, wealth or asset building.

Renville County Broadband Profile: hard work and a new cooperative change everything

renvilleIn 2014, 58 percent of Renville County had access to broadband. (Broadband was defined with lower speeds back then.) Today 59 percent of the county has access to broadband speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up) and 50 percent have access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20.

Renville County and Sibley County have been working on broadband for many years. The counties and town tried working collectively with a Joint Powers agreement on getting broadband to their communities – fiber to the farm they said because they wanted to include areas outside the towns despite the high cost. They had trouble reaching consensus with all communities – specifically Sibley County left the project. That opened the door to a new solution – a cooperative. Since that time they have been working on that solution and it has been working. Here’s a brief outline of the coop from a Daily Yonder article

A unique partnership between RS Fiber and 10 cities is proving successful in Minnesota, which also has restrictions on public networks. The cities sold a General Obligation bond that they used to underwrite a loan to RS Fiber. The co-op leveraged the loan to raise more investment money.

RS Fiber retained Hiawatha Broadband Communications, a local ISP, to oversee all network buildout, operations and marketing. A fiber backbone will connect the 10 towns. During the three years it will take to complete the buildout, the co-op will provide 25-megabit symmetrical wireless and telephone services to the cities. In 2018 RS Fiber will ask the cities to pass another bond to finance the remaining buildout to take in surrounding farmlands. In total the entire network will cover over 600 miles and 2500 farm sites.

They have received positive attention for their work as a coop and most importantly a new tenant – a new Medical School is opening in Gaylord, which is Sibley County but because these counties have worked in tandem. I’m going to mention it here too!

Renville County is going to get some help with a Border to Border grant

In Renville County, Hiawatha Broadband Communications & RS Fiber was awarded $807,966.
This project will serve 193 unserved households, 99 unserved businesses and three community anchor institutions in portions of Preston Lake, Boon Lake, Brookfield, Osceola, Kingman, Winfield, Crooks, Erickson, Sac-red Heart (North), Emmet, Flora, Henry-ville, Norfolk, Birch Cooley, Camp and Cairo townships in Renville County.
Hiawatha Broadband Communications and RS Fiber will provide improved services that officials hope will stimulate business and population growth.
The total eligible project cost is $2.07 million, with a $1.26 million local match.

As they received State help in 2015 as well…

-S Fiber Cooperative, FTTH Project. Awarded $1 million to bring fiber-to-the –home (FTTH) service to 62 unserved and 536 underserved locations in Sibley and Renville counties. Total project costs are $3.32 million; the remaining $2.32 million (70 percent local match) will be provided by a line of credit that R-S Fiber Telcom has committed and partner equity. This project is part of a larger cooperative project estimated at $38.46 million that will upgrade broadband services to several thousand locations in the region. Hiawatha Broadband Communications will provide operational capacity.

Community and Economic Development Impact: In 2013, Sibley County was added to the Metropolitan Statistical Area of the Twin Cities. Twin Cities metro regional economic development strategy indicates that access to high-speed fiber networks is a critical component that companies consider when deciding whether to relocate to an area.

Renville County is in line to receive $1,493,456 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 1702 locations. CAF 2 recipients are only required to upgrade to 10/1 access. Many may choose to upgrade to better speeds but there are no requirements.

Numbers:

The Office of Broadband Development released data on broadband covered in fall of 2016, based on information gathered in July 2016. Here’s how they ranked:

  • Percentage served with 25/3 or better: 59.27
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 50.43

ranking-mower-to-rock

Mississippi State University Extension have come up with a ranking system to gauge the digital divide index (DDI) by county. (The lower the number the better – the state average is 40.66.) Here’s how they ranked:

DDI score of 34.48 out of 100.

More info:

I plan to profile each county in Minnesota – tracking broadband access, digital divide and annotated links to news of what’s happening with broadband in the county. I’m keeping it high level because there are 87 counties!

Redwood County Broadband Profile: 41 percent access to speeds of 25/3, engaged but behind

redwoodIn 2014, 63 percent of Redwood County had access to broadband. (Broadband was defined with lower speeds back then.) Today 41 percent of the county has access to broadband speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up) and 34 percent have access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20. So they are slipping.

Redwood has been working on Broadband. They are a Blandin Broadband Community, which means they have been working as a community to increase broadband use and expansion. In 2013, they received a feasibility study that had some recommendations…

It has been the focus of this study for Redwood County is to pursue public/private partnerships, likely with the incumbent service providers. In any scenario, it is likely that the residents of Redwood County will need to contribute, in the form of taxes, in order to make development of a county-wide broadband network attractive to potential partners. Success in grant funding would also be a factor on whether the ultimate FTTH system or an FTTN/DSL system can be built.

Next Steps

1) A first step should include contacting RUS to discuss the project and available RUS loans and grants.

2) After that, meetings should be scheduled with each potential service provider partner to share the report and discuss cooperative efforts toward entering into a long term agreement.

3) Engaging the League of Minnesota Cities or other organizations that may be useful in determining the best path to choose in organizing Redwood County legally to enter into agreements with RUS and partners.

4) Engaging, local, state, and national politicians and their staff’s may be helpful in gaining support for any non-traditional track to implementing broadband in Redwood County.

Redwood County is going to get some help with a Border to Border grant

The Arvig awarded project will serve 15 unserved households and 20 unserved businesses near Morgan.
Arvig-Redwood Telephone will improve service levels to this rural area, which is home to Minnesota’s annual Farmfest and relies on quality broadband service for precision agriculture applications and to monitor crops and livestock. The total eligible project cost is $62,218, with a $34,220 local match.

Redwood County is in line to receive $278,818 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 415 locations. CAF 2 recipients are only required to upgrade to 10/1 access. Many may choose to upgrade to better speeds but there are no requirements. Numbers:

The Office of Broadband Development released data on broadband covered in fall of 2016, based on information gathered in July 2016. Here’s how they ranked:

  • Percentage served with 25/3 or better: 41.51
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 34.37

ranking-mower-to-rock

Mississippi State University Extension have come up with a ranking system to gauge the digital divide index (DDI) by county. (The lower the number the better – the state average is 40.66.) Here’s how they ranked:

DDI score of 34.48 out of 100.

More info:

I plan to profile each county in Minnesota – tracking broadband access, digital divide and annotated links to news of what’s happening with broadband in the county. I’m keeping it high level because there are 87 counties!

Red Lake County Broadband Profile: 99 percent have access to 25/3; 48 percent have access to 100/20

In 2014, red-lakemore than 99 percent of Red Lake County had access to broadband. (Broadband was defined with lower speeds back then.) Today more than 99 percent of the county has access to broadband speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up) and 48 percent have access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20.

Red Lake has been a leader in broadband for many years. They are always one of the top covered counties but it looks like they may need to think about broadband if they want to keep that standing at the 2026 speed goals. The good news is that Red Lake County is served by Garden Valley Telephone, Halsted and Sjoberg’s – all engaged providers. Garden Valley already has some fiber in the area; one hope is that that extend their services and/or that the others upgrade their networks.

Numbers:

The Office of Broadband Development released data on broadband covered in fall of 2016, based on information gathered in July 2016. Here’s how they ranked:

  • Percentage served with 25/3 or better: 99.99
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 48.01

ranking-mower-to-rock

Mississippi State University Extension have come up with a ranking system to gauge the digital divide index (DDI) by county. (The lower the number the better – the state average is 40.66.) Here’s how they ranked:

DDI score of 34.48 out of 100.

More info:

I plan to profile each county in Minnesota – tracking broadband access, digital divide and annotated links to news of what’s happening with broadband in the county. I’m keeping it high level because there are 87 counties!

Ramsey County Broadband Profile: 99 percent served at 25/3 and 100/20 speeds

ramseyIn 2014, 100 percent of Ramsey County had access to broadband. (Broadband was defined with lower speeds back then.) Today more than 99 percent of the county has access to broadband speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up) and 99 percent has access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20.

In 2012, Ramsey County was looking at a partnership with a commercial provider to get fiber to government buildings and pull fiber throughout the county with an eye to an open access model that would have invited FTTH options from third party vendors. Instead they went with Comcast

The city of St. Paul will pay Comcast more than $2 million to upgrade the data network connecting more than 100 public buildings to high-speed fiber optic cable.

Since 1998, St. Paul has received network service for free from Comcast as part of a larger agreement that allowed the company to provide cable TV to its residents.

But the network was too slow for transmitting surveillance video to the Police Department or providing decent Internet service to library patrons, said Tarek Tomes, the city’s chief information officer.

“We’re paying zero for a service that really doesn’t meet anyone’s needs,” he said.

Under the deal signed this week, the city also will pay Comcast more than $400,000 a year to provide network service over those connections.

Ramsey County is in line to receive $19,030 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 96 locations. CAF 2 recipients are only required to upgrade to 10/1 access. Many may choose to upgrade to better speeds but there are no requirements. Numbers:

The Office of Broadband Development released data on broadband covered in fall of 2016, based on information gathered in July 2016. Here’s how they ranked:

  • Percentage served with 25/3 or better: 99.75
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 99.39

ranking-mower-to-rock

Mississippi State University Extension have come up with a ranking system to gauge the digital divide index (DDI) by county. (The lower the number the better – the state average is 40.66.) Here’s how they ranked:

DDI score of 26.57 out of 100.

More info:

  • There is a matrix of Minnesota broadband adoption projects.
  • Districts: CD 4
    Senate: 38, 41, 42, 43, 53, 64, 65, 66, 67
    House: 38A, 41A, 41B, 42A, 42B, 43A, 43B, 53A, 64A, 64B, 65A, 65B, 66A, 66B, 67A, 67B

I plan to profile each county in Minnesota – tracking broadband access, digital divide and annotated links to news of what’s happening with broadband in the county. I’m keeping it high level because there are 87 counties!

Pope County Broadband Profile: 62 percent have access & working on efforts

popeIn 2014, 31 percent of Pope County had access to broadband. (Broadband was defined with lower speeds back then.) Today 62 percent of the county has access to broadband speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up) and only 24 percent have access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20.

There has been some action in the community. In 2015

The Pope County Housing and Redevelopment Authority with Economic Development powers (HRA/EDA) approved a payment of up to $3,000 (5-to-1 vote) to bring a fiber optic line to the Massman Automation building in Villard. …

“Currently the speed is 10 megabytes per second download and one megabyte per second upload, which is absolutely inadequate to serve any businesses in this area,” Dreher said.

Dreher said the good news is that Verizon is going to put up a cell tower on Highway 28 near Villard and has selected Runestone Telecom out of Hoffman to provide the fiber optic line for the cell tower. Dreher said he did a lot of behind-the-scenes work to get Runestone to bring the fiber optic line down Grove Avenue so it will go right by Massman.

The fiber optics will provide 100 mbps up/100 mbps down which will greatly improve the service to Massman.

And in 2017

Not everyone in Pope County has access to high-speed Internet, and county officials are working to improve that access and to provide faster speeds in all areas of the county.

The first step in that effort is to determine what areas of the county are lacking access and speed and what residents would like to see improved.  A Pope County Initiative group, headed by Information Technology Director Donna Martin, is currently working to improve Internet access for everyone in the area.  And, to measure the current level of interest in higher speed Internet access, the team is conducting a survey, which is being mailed to every household in the county.  The survey is  designed to get opinions on current and needed Internet access and seeks responses.

But more is needed if they want to meet speed goals in 2022 or 2026.

Pope County is in line to receive $33,275 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 58 locations. CAF 2 recipients are only required to upgrade to 10/1 access. Many may choose to upgrade to better speeds but there are no requirements. Numbers:

The Office of Broadband Development released data on broadband covered in fall of 2016, based on information gathered in July 2016. Here’s how they ranked:

  • Percentage served with 25/3 or better: 62.73
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 24.33

ranking-mower-to-rock

Mississippi State University Extension have come up with a ranking system to gauge the digital divide index (DDI) by county. (The lower the number the better – the state average is 40.66.) Here’s how they ranked:

DDI score of 43.02 out of 100.

More info:

I plan to profile each county in Minnesota – tracking broadband access, digital divide and annotated links to news of what’s happening with broadband in the county. I’m keeping it high level because there are 87 counties!

FCC reverse auction to “expand rural broadband access” includes parts of MN

The FCC  just released information on their upcoming reverse auction. The idea is that broadcasters will relinquish spectrum and mobile broadband providers will buy that spectrum. Both sides bid at the opportunity. The FCC will use those bids to determine prices, winners and losers. (Here’s a better, more detailed description.)

Parts of Minnesota (see map) are included in the reserve aucfcc-auction-eligibletion.

Here’s the FCC press releases on the opportunity…

 

WASHINGTON, February23, 2017–Continuing its push to expand access to broadband in rural America, the Federal Communications Commission today set key rules for a competitive “reverse auction” that will provide nearly $2 billion for rural deployment over the next decade.

In the upcoming Connect America Fund Phase II auction, providers will compete for support to expand broadband to unserved areas, along with voice service. The auction rules established today aim to maximize the value the American people will receive for the Connect America Fund dollars spent by balancing deployment of higher-quality services with cost efficiencies. Broadband access is essential in the 21st Century for jobs, education, information and economic development. Since 2011, the FCC has been working to expand access in rural areas where deployment costs are high by providing support from the Connect America Fund.

Today’s action focuses on census blocks unserved by broadband in 20 states where the nation’s largest carriers –known as “price cap” carriers –declined last year’s Connect America Fund offer of support. Also included in the auction are locations across the country with extremely high deployment costs.

The Order balances incentives for deployment of higher-quality services with cost efficiencies by establishing auction “weights” that credit bids by companies offering more robust service. Specifically, the Order:

 Establishes bidding weights to compare bids across performance tiers set last year (see 2016 press release at  https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC339550A1.docx)  These weights account for the value of higher speeds, higher usage allowances, and low latency  But the formula used to rank bidders balances these performance goals with the need to reach as many consumers as possible within the FCC’s budget for rural universal service support

The item builds on the substantial progress the FCC has made in recent years connecting rural America to broadband. In 2015, pricecap carriers accepted $9 billion over six years from Phase II

of the Connect America Fund to expand broadband in their rural service areas. And in March of 2016, the FCC reformed its broadband support for the nation’s smallest carriers, known as “rateof-return” carriers, providing $20 billion over the next decade.

Next steps for the Phase II auction include seeking comment on auction mechanics. After consideration of the record developed, the FCC will vote on finalauction details and set specific deadlines and dates.

Other resources: Preliminary map of areas eligible for the Phase II auction. https://www.fcc.gov/reports-research/maps/caf-2-auction-preliminary-areas/

Action by the Commission February 23, 2017 by Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration (FCC 17-12). Chairman Pai, Commissioner Clyburn approving. Commissioner O’Rielly approving in part and dissenting in part. Chairman Pai, Commissioners Clyburn and O’Rielly issuing separate statements.