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.

TDS Telecom seeks broadband grants in Enfield, Monticello, Danube, Kerkhoven and Sunburg MN

Fierce Telecom reports

TDS Telecom is duking it out with the likes of Comcast, Frontier Communications, Verizon and Breezeline as it pursues broadband grants in at least three states. The operator has achieved mixed results with its grant efforts so far in 2022, walking away with a loss in Wisconsin but a win in Tennessee.

Drew Petersen, TDS SVP of External Affairs, told Fierce it has “five pending grant applications in Minnesota as well as one in Virginia.” In the latter, it is seeking nearly $4.6 million to reach over 2,800 locations in Craig County. It was not immediately clear how much it is asking for in Minnesota, but it has applied for funding to provide symmetrical 1 Gbps service in the areas around Enfield, Monticello, Danube, Kerkhoven and Sunburg.

US Senators introduce legislation to Increase Digital Equity, Inclusion, and Literacy

Senator Lujan reports..,

Today, U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) led U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to introduce the Digital Equity Foundation Act, legislation to establish a nonprofit foundation to leverage public and private investments to make progress closing the divide on digital equity, digital inclusion, and digital literacy.
The Foundation will supplement the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) work to award grants, support research, provide training and education, engage with stakeholders, collect data, and promote policies to improve digital equity outcomes. The Foundation will be run by a Board of experts specializing in the fields of digital equity, technology, and telecommunications, and will represent diverse communities throughout the U.S.

Congressionally-established nonprofit foundations have had great success in supporting the missions of various government agencies, including NIH, FDA, and NPS, and provide a mechanism to leverage public-private partnerships and support innovation. As the NTIA works to implement the broadband programs in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and connect our country, the Digital Equity Foundation will be vital to ensuring the most vulnerable communities have the knowledge and skills to take full advantage of these new connections.

Color of Change launches Black Tech Agenda – steps to racial equity in technology

From the Color of Change

Color Of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization, today launched the “Black Tech Agenda” which is endorsed by several prominent members of Congress: Senator Cory Booker (NJ), Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA), Representative Robin Kelly (IL-02), and Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07).

The Black Tech agenda sets an affirmative vision for how to create tech policy that centers racial justice, ensuring bias and discrimination are rooted out from the digital lives of Black people and everyone. The agenda has 6 pillars which outline real policy solutions for Congress to advance racial equity in Tech:

  • Advancing Robust Antitrust Policy: Create fair markets where Black businesses can compete, Black workers can thrive and Black people have abundant options;
  • Protecting Privacy and Ending Surveillance: Limiting monopoly power to create fair markets where Black businesses can compete, Black workers can thrive and Black people have abundant options;
  • Preventing Algorithmic Discrimination: Forcing companies to address discrimination in their decision-making through independent audits and repair the harm that has happened;
  • Expanding Broadband Access: Ensuring everyone has high quality, affordable internet;
  • Supporting Net Neutrality: Treat all internet traffic equally and designate the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as its regulatory body; and
  • Addressing the Disinformation and Misinformation Crisis: Changing the incentives for profiting from harm by regulating optimization algorithms and reducing monopoly power.

The Black Tech Agenda, as a comprehensive roadmap to prioritizing the policies that impact Black communities on and offline, is an effort to distinguish the real solutions to advance racial equity from fake, self-regulated suggestions proposed by Big Tech.

FCC announce latest round of RDOF winners – none in Minnesota

The FCC reports…

By this Public Notice, the Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB), in conjunction with the Rural
Broadband Auctions Task Force (RBATF) and the Office of Economics and Analytics (OEA), authorizes
Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (Auction 904) support for the winning bids identified in Attachment A of
this Public Notice.
For each of the winning bids identified in Attachment A, we have reviewed the long-form
application information, including the letter(s) of credit and Bankruptcy Code opinion letter(s) from the
long-form applicant’s legal counsel. Based on the representations and certifications in the relevant longform application, we authorize and obligate support for the winning bids listed in Attachment A.
We will also soon post a state-level summary under the “Results” tab on the Auction 904
webpage at https://www.fcc.gov/auction/904/round-results.1
The summary will provide for each longform applicant included in this Public Notice: 1) the total support amount over 10 years and total number
of locations that the long-form applicant is being authorized for in each state, 2) the total number of
locations to which the authorized support recipient must offer the required voice and broadband services
for each performance tier and latency in each state, and 3) the eligible census blocks included in the
winning bids that are being authorized in each state.

Rep Angie Craig supports better broadband in Le Sueur County

Le Sueur County News reports

No matter who wins the election next November, Le Sueur County will have a new representative in Congress.
Following statewide redistricting, Le Sueur County was moved into CD2, currently represented by DFL Rep. Angie Craig, of Prior Lake. Before facing off against challenger and Marine veteran Tyler Kistner, R-Prior Lake, the incumbent dropped in on the latest addition to her district to speak with local farmers and county officials about agriculture issues and broadband expansion.

Here’s her view on broadband…

After stopping in Kilkenny for the Halfway to St. Paddy’s Day festival, Craig journeyed to Montgomery, where she hosted a roundtable on broadband with Le Sueur County Administrator Joe Martin, County Broadband Initiative Coordinator Barbara Droher-Kline, Tri-City United Schools IT Administrator Carl Menk and Lanesburgh Township Clerk Liz Krocak.

In 2021, with the use of CARES Act dollars, Le Sueur County funded the development of seven towers, including two in Waterville, one in Le Center, Tyrone Township, Cleveland, Montgomery, Cordova and Kasota.

Le Sueur County financed the towers alongside other projects, including WiFi hotspots at the Le Sueur County Fairgrounds, Ney Nature Center, Gorman and Volney Park and Lexington Township Hall as well as a fiber optic network by MetroNet between Kasota and Ottawa, Lake Volney and Gorman Lake, Waterville and Le Center.

Though the county’s municipalities are well served by high-speed internet, Martin told the CD2 Congresswoman Le Sueur County will need more than towers to serve the needs of rural residents.

“It runs well, but in the long-term we need our rural areas to run fiber to the door and right now it’s not happening because the return on investment isn’t there for the providers to do it,” said Martin. “The bottom line is they’re not going to do it to lose money.”

In total, the county administrator estimated it would require $12 million in outside dollars and a 25% match from the county to reach every household with fiber.

Craig was receptive to the idea and pointed toward her work securing $3.2 million in broadband investment for Goodhue County.

“That’s been my biggest contribution to Goodhue County is getting federal dollars for broadband over the past few years,” said Craig. “That would be something I would be all over in Le Sueur County as well.”

The Congresswoman labeled herself a strong supporter of financing community projects within her district and promised the county representatives she will be making similar visits to Le Sueur County if re-elected.

“I’m not afraid to ask for $12 million, I know they’re going to cut it in the final proposal, but I’m not afraid to ask for what I want,” said Craig. “I want to represent this community with all my heart in 2023.”

OPPORTUNITY: Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Opportunity Fund Fellowship Call

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society has an opportunity for the right folks…

Through the Marjorie & Charles Benton Opportunity Fund, we aim to support a new generation of broadband scholars, practitioners, and advocates. We welcome applications from people working on broadband access, adoption, equity, and use. For instance, you may be working on issues of infrastructure or digital inclusion, but are interested in dedicating some of your time to policy-focused research and writing. Or you may be a doctoral candidate ready to begin fieldwork and collect data on the impact of broadband access on health or education outcomes. We are interested in supporting a range of projects that can better inform our current or emerging broadband policy debates, either through critical research about the future of the internet in our communities or the development of best practices and tools to advance our field’s work. Proposed projects can yield either practice or research-focused publications or multimedia content. Some potential topics include:
● How are grassroots organizations and coalitions working to advance digital equity?
● How can we best measure and map the availability and quality of broadband?
● What state and local policy levers can influence broadband availability and adoption?
● How does improved access to broadband impact local economies and communities?
● What resources and information do state legislators or government agencies need to ensure universal broadband access and adoption? This is by no means an exhaustive list and you should feel free to propose other ideas of critical importance to our field. We especially welcome applications that focus on historically marginalized communities. Fellowships will range from $5,000-$20,000, with a tenure ranging from 6 months to 2 years.

Deadline is October 15.

Starlink appeals FCC rejection of RDOF applications

Fierce Telecom reports…

SpaceX subsidiary Starlink asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reconsider a decision to deny it $885.5 million in rural broadband funding, arguing the decision handed down in August was “flawed as a matter of both law and policy.”

The company filed what is known as an Application for Review with the Commission. Such applications are essentially appeals from an aggrieved party which ask the FCC to revisit actions taken on the grounds that they conflict with established statutes, regulations, precedent or policy or rely on a policy or precedent that should be changed or overturned.

Last month, the FCC rejected Starlink’s winning bids for $885.5 million in broadband subsidies from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction, which were intended to help it connect more than 640,000 unserved locations in 35 states. At the time, the FCC cited Ookla data which showed Starlink’s broadband speeds were below the service benchmark set for its subsidies.

In its filing, however, Starlink claimed the FCC’s decision “rests on unsupported conjecture and outside-the-record information apparently cherry-picked from somewhere on the Internet.” It also accused the FCC of making the decision “in service to a clear bias towards fiber, rather than a merits-based decision to actually connect unserved Americans.”

Turns out Affordable Connectivity Program subscribers are power broadband users!

Telecompetitor reports

Households participating in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) are using more broadband in comparison with the broader population of homes, according to OpenVault Broadband Insights (OVBI).

The ACP was launched by the FCC in January. It provides eligible households monthly discounts of as much as $30 on broadband subscriptions. The discounts are as much as $75 on Tribal lands.

“Early indications suggest these participants have a healthy appetite for broadband, driving significantly higher usage patterns in comparison with the average subscriber,” according to the report. “With close to one-fourth (23.8%) of ACP participants qualifying as power users, the impact of an expanding ACP subscriber base has significant implications for broadband traffic, particularly in the last mile.”

The second quarter report from the firm traced heavy usage by ACP households during the second quarter of the year:

  • ACP participants’ average usage of 654 GB per month was 33.3% higher than the average of 490.7 GB for all subscribers.
  • ACP participants’ median usage of 499.3 GB per month was almost 60% higher than the median of 313.9 GB per month for all subscribers.
  • ACP households were 36% more likely to be power users of 1 TB or more, and 52% more likely to be super power users of 2 TB or more.

The second quarter report also found that usage for subscribers on usage-based billing (UBB) is growing more quickly than usage for subscribers on flat rate billing (FRB) plans. During the second quarter, usage by UBB subscribers grew 20.6% year-over-year to 310.7 GB while usage by FRB subscribers grew 8.1% to 322 GB.

For so long survey came back saying there were two main reasons people didn’t get broadband at home – cost and not interested. These stats put those answers in perspective. It’s easy to say you don’t have an interest in something you can’t afford because it’s easier to not want for something you can’t afford and it can feel like a waste of time to look into something you can’t afford. But it seems folks are making up for lost time!

Minnesota senior may need extra IT support – the libraries are there to help

A recent letter to the editor in Minneapolis Star Tribune outlines the reasons that Minnesota seniors need special attention to close the digital equity gap…

Virtual as the new normal is now our reality. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the importance of digital inclusion and literacy for all. Technology is considered an essential resource, a necessity for civic and cultural participation, lifelong learning and access to critical services, including shopping at Target.

As Pommer noted, there is an age-based digital divide within our state with older adults exhibiting lower access to the internet, fewer digital skills and more limited use of technology. To add to the problem, as 10,000 baby boomers retire daily from now until 2030 across the U.S., new retirees are realizing that there is no longer an IT department available to them. With rapid and continual changes in technology, ongoing adoption and assistive services are essential, regardless of age or where a person lives.

The downside is significant for seniors. The digital divide contributes to increased social isolation, severity of chronic diseases and an overall diminished quality of life. The problem is worse in rural areas than metro areas.

And it offers a solution…

Through policy developed through the University of Minnesota Project Reach Program, Minnesota’s public libraries are emerging as the IT department for retirees.

The Library Services and Technology Act of 1996 (LSTA) established a federal grant program to identify priorities centered on technology infrastructure. Under the leadership of the State Library Services, Minnesota’s library network of 356 public locations has historically provided community-based digital device and training resources.

Every five years, the LSTA requires state library agencies to submit a five-year grant plan identifying state priorities. With the current plan through 2025, Minnesota is prioritizing digital inclusion and digital literacy programs championing Minnesota’s older adults, especially those living in rural areas.

Minnesota has a significant funding opportunity via the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act. Linking the development of a state digital equity plan to existing broadband access initiatives strategically positions the Minnesota State Library Services to lead digital inclusion and digital literacy using its extensive statewide footprint across both metro and rural areas.

Broad deployment of digital inclusion and digital literacy programs will enable Minnesota’s growing older-adult population to fully participate in the virtual new normal. Thank you to Minnesota’s public libraries. They have the geographic reach, knowledge, expertise and savvy to create real change and implement digital inclusion and digital literacy as an essential healthy aging strategy benefiting all of Minnesota citizens.

ITC Expands Fiber-Optic Services to the City of Ivanhoe (Lincoln County)

ITC fiber reports...

 ITC is excited to announce a fiber-optic expansion to the City of Ivanhoe, Minnesota. Along with ITC’s investment in the fiber-optic expansion, this project is funded by the City of Ivanhoe and Lincoln County. To ensure area residents have access to world-class telecommunications services, ITC continues to expand its network. This fiber-optic expansion to Ivanhoe, Minnesota, is another example of ITC’s continued commitment to this region.

Tracy Bandemer, ITC’s CEO, adds, “Since we completed the initial expansion into rural Lincoln County in 2019, there have been continued conversations about expanding into the City of Ivanhoe. We are excited this project is moving forward. In analyzing Lincoln County, the city of Ivanhoe was the only area without fiber-optics, so this expansion will bring Lincoln County to 100% fiber.”

Vince Robinson, Executive Director of the Lincoln County Enterprise Development Corp. further explains, ”About seven years ago we set out to become a County that would provide fiber to the premise to all of our residents and businesses. ITC has proven to be a solid partner with the previous joint rural fiber expansion project in the County. Broadband delivered on fiber is the future, and with this partnership of the City of Ivanhoe, the County, and ITC we will ensure that all residents of Lincoln County have equal access to state-of-the-art broadband technology.”

ITC is planning to start the construction this Fall. This new fiber-optic connection will offer residents and businesses a reliable, unlimited, Fiber-Fast Internet connection and local phone service. The plan is to plow fiber-optics to every location. To verify your location’s eligibility, please visit www.itcfiberlinc.com . You will have the option to sign up for service with ITC or grant permission for the fiber-optics to be plowed to your location for future utilization. ITC requests that this step be completed by September 15 to maintain the tentative timeline.

ITC is a local telecommunications company providing services to communities in Northeastern South Dakota and Southwestern Minnesota for over 68 years. Currently, ITC provides service to more than 14,000 customers.

ReConnect to invest more than $1 billion in broadband – applications open now

The https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2022/09/09/biden-harris-administration-now-accepting-applications-1-billionUSDA reports…

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is now accepting applications for ReConnect Program loans and grants to expand access to high-speed internet for millions of people in rural America nationwide. The Department is making more than $1 billion available, thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The program is a critical piece of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to connect every American to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet.

“Ensuring that the people of rural America are connected with reliable, high-speed internet brings new and innovative ideas to the rest of our country, and it remains a core priority for President Biden,” Vilsack said. “That’s why high-speed internet is an important part of USDA Rural Development’s work with rural communities. Reliable high-speed internet opens the world’s marketplace to rural business owners. It enables them to expand their businesses and give more jobs and opportunities to people in their own community.”

On Sept. 6, USDA began accepting applications for loans, with available funds of $150 million, grants with available funds of $700 million, and combination loan/grant awards using $300 million under the ReConnect Program. These funds were appropriated under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Governmentwide, the law provides an historic $65 billion investment to expand affordable, high-speed internet to all communities across the U.S.

The application deadline is Nov. 2. For additional information, see page 47690 of the Aug. 4 Federal Register (PDF, 231 KB).

What’s wrong with reverse auctions? Ask Doug Dawson

Earlier this week Doug Dawson looked at implications of doing another RDOF auction and then succinctly detailed the reasons not to go down that road. To me it’s a matter of fixing up the house like you’re going to sell it or live in it? DO you go cheap and cheerful or built to last? Doug gives more detail…

But there are larger questions involved in having another reverse auction. The big problem with the RDOF reverse auction was not just that the FCC didn’t screen applicants first, as Carr and others have been suggesting. The fact is that a reverse auction is a dreadful mechanism for awarding broadband grant money. A reverse auction is always going to favor lower-cost technologies like fixed wireless over fiber – it’s almost impossible to weight different technologies for an auction in a neutral way. It doesn’t seem like a smart policy to give federal subsidies to technologies with a 10-year life versus funding infrastructure that might last a century.

Reverse auctions also take state and local governments out of the picture. The upcoming BEAD funding has stirred hundred of communities to get involved in the process of seeking faster broadband. I think it’s clear that communities care about which ISP will become the new monopoly broadband provider in rural areas. If the FCC has a strict screening process up front, then future RDOF funding will only go to ISPs blessed by the FCC – and that probably means the big ISPs. I would guess that the only folks possibly lobbying for a new round of RDOF are companies like Charter and the big telcos.

The mechanism of awarding grants by Census block created a disaster in numerous counties where RDOF was awarded in what is best described as swiss cheese serving areas. The helter-skelter nature of the RDOF coverage areas makes it harder for anybody else to put together a coherent business plan to serve the rest of the surrounding rural areas. In contrast, states have been doing broadband grants the right way by awarding money to coherent and contiguous serving areas that make sense for ISPs instead of the absolute mess created by the FCC.

A reverse auction also relies on having completely accurate broadband maps – and until the FCC makes ISPs report real speeds instead of marketing speeds, the maps are going to continue to be fantasy in a lot of places.

Finally, the reverse auction is a lazy technique that allows the FCC to hand out money without having to put in the hard effort to make sure that each award makes sense. Doing grants the right way requires people and processes that the FCC doesn’t have. But we now have a broadband office and staff in every state thanks to the BEAD funding. If the FCC is going to give out more rural broadband funding, it ought to run the money through the same state broadband offices that are handling the BEAD grants. These folks know local conditions and know the local ISPs. The FCC could set overall rules about how the funds can be used, but it should let the states pick grant winners based upon demonstrated need and a viable business plan.

Hospital at Home Programs gaining popularity

Minnesota Monthly reports

Rachel Riedesel, population health manager at Allina Health, was in her final year of the Masters of Healthcare Administration program at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in 2019. For her team capstone project, she partnered with leaders at Allina Health to design a program that would allow patients to receive hospital care in the comfort of their homes.

At the time, funding models and abundant hospital capacity meant there was little urgency to implement the program. All that changed when the pandemic hit. By then, Riedesel was working at Allina Health in the hub of the system’s COVID-19-related activity. “This came forward as an opportunity to increase hospital capacity while we were trying to serve our community and their needs,” Riedesel says. The Hospital at Home plan she had previously worked on was put in motion. “We were able to deploy the program in less than a month because of the plans we’d already prepared.”

Instead of being checked into the hospital, patients who participate in the program are sent home with biometric monitoring equipment. The kit includes a tablet, blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeter, and thermometer—all Bluetooth-enabled. Patients are continuously monitored, and their data is sent to a centralized nursing hub along with personalized parameters. If their biometric markers go outside of a preset zone, nurses are alerted to check on them. If needed, a nurse, physician, or paramedic may also be dispatched to the patient’s home. “We have an escalation process in place to ensure the patient is safe,” Riedesel says.

Allina’s program is now one of the fastest growing Hospital at Home programs in the country. To date, it has served roughly 3,700 patients in the Twin Cities metro and a few regional areas throughout the state. When the program started, 60% to 70% of the Hospital at Home patients were COVID-19-positive. In 2022, it’s closer to 40%. The bulk of the patients are now being treated primarily for other conditions, such as sepsis, chronic heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and post-surgery recovery.

“We continue to see equal- or better-quality outcomes for people who get to recover in their homes, with their loved ones,” Riedesel says. While in-patient hospital care is necessary for some acute conditions, hospitals are not without risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates hospital-acquired infections account for 1.7 million infections and 99,000 deaths each year. “We want to make sure we’re providing the safest care in the safest place, and that can often be the patient’s home,” Riedesel says.

eNews: MN Monthly Recap Sep 2022: Federal funding planning and rejection

Blandin Foundation’s New Strategic Direction
After speaking with leaders across rural Minnesota, the Blandin Foundation is moving forward with excitement to focus on three areas of priority:

  • Rural Placemaking for arts, culture and systems people use to create the unique destinations and social fabric rural folks love about their home places and their identity;
  • Community Wealth Building so communities can build their bases of knowledge, money and more, and keep it close to home; and
  • Small Communities to get those places, especially in our home giving area, grants to fund work that changes systems to work better for everyone.

MN Broadband Task Force Aug 2022
The Task Force got a tour of the Office of Broadband Development interactive mapping tool. They also heard from Scott Marquardt from the Southwest Initiative Foundation. He noted that the top concerns in his area are: housing, childcare and broadband.

LTD Broadband RDOF application rejected
The FCC rejects RDOF applications of LTD Broadband and Starlink. In Minnesota, LTD Broadband had been awarded the opportunity to apply for $311 million to expand broadband in rural MN. However, many potential customers and industry leaders were afraid that that lacked the capacity to be successful. So the rejection is met with mixed responses.
Before the FCC rejection, the Minnesota PUC starting to look at LTD Broadband’s qualifications. Post-rejection, they continue to investigate revoking their ETC designation. The next prehearing call happens September 10.

State News    

Federal News

Vendor News   

Local Broadband News

Bois Forte Band
Broadband update from with Bois Forte Band of Chippewa

City of Cook is looking at having fiber before winter
Cook might benefit from FCC rejection of LTD RDOF application
Paul Bunyan may have Gig access to Cook MN before the end of the year (St Louis County)

Douglas County
Gardonville applies for Border to Border grants for Carlos and Nelson MN (Douglas County)

Duluth New Tribune opinion piece says government involvement is needed to get broadband to some communities
Duluth is looking at Open Access Fiber Options with the help of State funding
Duluth gets $24.9 million through USDOT’s RAISE program in part for broadband
UMD is bringing back telehealth counseling by popular demand
Duluth pursues Border to Border grant for Lincoln Park

Harmony Telephone to build FTTH in Harmony (Fillmore County)

Kandiyohi County
Kandiyohi County Commissioners support three Border ro Border grant applications

Le Sueur County
Le Sueur County and Bevcomm are applying for Border to Border funds

Martin County
Martin County Commissioners support Frontier’s Border to Border application for Fairmont, Northrop and Ceylon

Mille Lacs County
Mille Lacs County support SCI’s Border to Border grant application

Lumen (aka CenturyLink) to offer 8-gig broadband in Minneapolis

Morrison County
Morrison County Commissioner support Border to Border grant from Charter Communications

Northeast Minnesota
A fiber cut takes down internet and phone service in Northeast Minnesota (Cook & Lake Counties)
Top tips for the housing crisis in NE Minnesota –include get better broadband

Redwood County
Update on Redwood County’s Blandin supported Lead Fellowship

Rodgers, Dayton & Wayzata
Comcast expands broadband to Rogers, Dayton and Wayzata MN (Hennepin & Wright Counties)
Rogers City Council approves Border to Border grant application (Hennepin County)

Scandia moving forward with broadband plans with MidCo and Frontier (Washington County)

Sherburne County
Sherburne County Board approved $600k for 3 broadband grants to Midco
Sherburne County to invest $1.5 million from ARPA in better broadband

Upcoming Events, Opportunities and Resources

Federal Funding Tools

Update from Blandin Foundation

Dear Rural Broadband Champions,

It’s been a significant year for investments in rural broadband access and use. I hope you, and your network of changemakers, are celebrating this moment of triumph and reflecting on all the work you’ve done to bring this abundance of opportunity to rural places.

When C.K. Blandin laid out his vision for Blandin Foundation, he directed its investments to strengthen rural communities without supplanting public responsibility. Our broadband programming built rural Minnesotans’ capacity to imagine their community’s broadband future and create the partnerships necessary to get the access and skills to realize that vision. It’s powerful to look at the map of folks we’ve worked with over the years, and see the impact made by rural people inspired to forge a tech-driven future for their community and its people.

The landscape has shifted since we began this work in 2003. With historic public funding on its way, coupled with recruitment challenges in our Blandin Broadband Communities Program, we now turn to the public responsibility of connecting the last miles.

Blandin Foundation is also shifting to meet today’s moment. After talking to leaders across rural Minnesota, and doing deep research, we’re focusing on three areas of work to move rural places forward:

  • Rural Placemaking for arts, culture and systems people use to create the unique destinations and social fabric rural folks love about their home places and their identity;
  • Community Wealth Building so communities can build their bases of knowledge, money and more, and keep it close to home; and
  • Small Communities to get those places, especially in our home giving area, grants to fund work that changes systems to work better for everyone.

Technology will continue to be a thread woven through many of our program investments. While we do not have any specific work planned in the areas of broadband access or digital equity, we will continue to watch the space and assess our role.

As we set out on a new strategic direction, I’m thankful for the years of partnership and network building that made the broadband program so successful. Please stay in touch as we develop and communicate emerging opportunities from Blandin Foundation. We look forward to learning from you and with you as we step forward together towards strong rural communities.

Tuleah Palmer, Blandin Foundation President & CEO

EVENT Sep 20: MRBC IIJA/BEAD Broadband Funding Webinar

An invitation from the Minnesota Broadband Coalition…

MRBC IIJA/BEAD Broadband Funding Webinar

This event is scheduled for September 20 from 9:00 – 11:00 am and will include guest experts from around the nation as well as opportunity for small group discussion and reporting.   Details on how to join the meeting are below.

The current line-up includes:

  • Adrianne Furniss – Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
  • Peggy Schaffer – former head of the Maine Broadband Office
  • Doug Dawson – CCG Consulting
  • Brian Ford – NTCA.

If you have ideas for guest experts, please let Bill know at bill@communitytechnologyadvisors.com.

9:00am Welcome – Jay Trusty, Chair, MN Rural Broadband Coalition
9:05am Quick overview of the IIJA Timeline/Planning Process, Adrianne Furniss, Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
9:15am Expert Panel – Key considerations for community-focused broadband
9:45am Breakout discussions on key topics
10:15am Small group reporting to the large group
10:40am Prospective role of MN Rural BB Coalition in IIJA process/Ensuring effective community voice (facilitated discussion by Bill Coleman)
10:55am Closing – Jay Trusty

Meeting Information:
Topic: IIJA/BEAD Broadband Funding Webinar
Time: Sep 20, 2022, 09:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 882 3489 1525
Passcode: 834949
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