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.

What makes a city smart? We can learn from NYC and others

ComputerWorld has a series on Smart Cities. They check out what’s happening in big cities and how they are using technology to make life better. Their changes are definitely different than rural Minnesota but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something we can learn here. This latest video looks at swapping out phone booths for charging WiFI stations. Something that’s probably worth considering if your rural town wants to attract tourists.

The beauty of the new charging stations is that it tracks use and presence of smartphones. It could be a great way to measure usage and visitors. The NYC stations are paid for with advertising. I’ve hearing about rural Minnesota cities using advertising or sponsorship to pay for public Wifi (on the welcome splash page).

Mobile broadband is good enough for rural areas?!

Ars Technica reports…

Americans might not need a fast home Internet connection, the Federal Communications Commission suggests in a new document. Instead, mobile Internet via a smartphone might be all people need.

The suggestion comes in the FCC’s annual inquiry into broadband availability. Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act requires the FCC to determine whether broadband (or more formally, “advanced telecommunications capability”) is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion. If the FCC finds that broadband isn’t being deployed quickly enough to everyone, it is required by law to “take immediate action to accelerate deployment of such capability by removing barriers to infrastructure investment and by promoting competition in the telecommunications market.”

Sounds like an easier answer than making sure broadband is being deployed quickly – it is move the goalpost – closer and lower…

But with Republican Ajit Pai now in charge, the FCC seems poised to change that policy by declaring that mobile broadband with speeds of 10Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream is all one needs. In doing so, the FCC could conclude that broadband is already being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion, and thus the commission could take fewer steps to promote deployment and competition.

This would also be the first time that the FCC has set a broadband speed standard for mobile; at 10Mbps/1Mbps, it would be less than half as fast as the FCC’s home broadband speed standard of 25Mbps/3Mbps.

Nothing is set in stone, yet, you can chime in!

The changes were signaled yesterday in a Notice of Inquiry, the FCC’s first step toward completing a new analysis of broadband deployment. The document asks the public for comments on a variety of questions, including whether mobile broadband can substitute for fixed Internet connections. You can file comments at this link; initial comments are due September 7, and reply comments are due September 22.

Nobles County board approves $1 million gift for broadband

According to the Daily Globe

Commissioner Gene Metz stepped away from his seat on the Nobles County board Tuesday morning to wear his second hat — that of vice president of Lismore Cooperative Telephone Co. (LCTC) — to ask the board to financially support the completion of Nobles County’s broadband project, to the tune of nearly $1 million.

After some discussion, it passed on a 4-0 vote with Metz abstaining.

Earlier this year, LCTC was awarded a $2.94 million grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, but another $1 million in anticipated grant funding fell through. In need of additional funding to complete the project, representatives from the cooperative appeared before commissioners in April seeking a $3 million loan. Discussion later turned to bonding for the money.

The article details the reasons why the commissioners decided to support the work of the cooperative…

“If you feel strongly enough, it’s economic development for the county,” he added.

Commissioner Justin Ahlers said he wanted to go on record saying the broadband project is essentially “building a library.”

“We’re not investing in bricks and mortar, but it’s impacting everyone in the county,” Ahlers said. “Internet is the way it is now. I can’t see us going backwards.”

US median broadband price is $80/month

Telecompetitor reports…

The U.S. residential median broadband price was $80 per month during the second quarter of 2017, according to research from Point Topic.

Globally, the average residential download speed was 135 Mbps and the average monthly charge was $105. The best value was provided by fiber (208 Mbps for $94) and the worst by copper (14 Mbps for $68).

I was surprised at $80/month. I suspect that Telecompetitor isn’t talking to the folks who are using their mobile hotspot for connectivity – or maybe they aren’t factoring in data caps.

It reminds me of the story of the Rock County radio station from a Task Force meeting earlier this summer. Their connection went from $1800/month to $85 once they got fiber. The $1800 appears to have been a combination of solutions, which included subscriptions with data caps.

Regardless, the discrepancy is clear.

NTIA’s BroadbandUSA technical assistance team workshop Aug 21

It’s in Iowa – but it looks interesting…

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s BroadbandUSA program is holding an in-depth Technical Assistance Workshop on broadband planning and funding at the Des Moines, Iowa, Public Library on Monday, August 21, 2017.

Broadband is a critical driver of American prosperity and economic growth. As a result, state and local governments are seeking ways to expand broadband access and digital inclusion to attract jobs, improve healthcare and increase education in their communities. If you answer “yes” to the following questions, please consider attending this workshop:

  • Does your community need more robust broadband?
  • Do you want to learn more about how to plan and fund broadband infrastructure access in your community?
  • Do you need help getting started or make sure you are on the right path?

BroadbandUSA’s half-day workshop will provide a deep dive into planning and funding a broadband infrastructure project. Our technical assistance team has substantial public and private sector experience in broadband deployment and implementation and will use this knowledge to guide attendees through the planning and funding process.

The Technical Assistance Workshop is free to attend but registration is encouraged, as seating is limited.

Register now – space is limited!

When:   Monday, August 21, 2017; from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. CDT.

Who:     The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (U.S. Department of Commerce). Experts from NTIA’s BroadbandUSA technical assistance team will lead the workshop.

Where: The Des Moines Public Library
1000 Grand Avenue, Meeting Room
Des Moines, IA 50309

Cost:     There is no cost to attend this session.

Register: You may register using this link. Seating is limited and registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Have questions? Email broadbandusa@ntia.doc.gov

Sneak preview of today’s webinar: Breaking broadband barriers with affordable computers and connectivity

This afternoon (at 3:00), Blandin will be hosting their monthly free webinar. This month’s topic is a continuation of the Digital Inclusion series – Breaking broadband barriers with affordable computers and connectivity. I’m going to start off the session talking about the need for affordable computers and broadband connections. Then we’re hear from folks in the field:

I think it will be an interesting discussion. Please feel free to join us – just register here!

If you want a sneak preview – here are the slides I plan to use: