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.

Letter to the Editor – AT&T is investing in northwestern Minnesota

The Crookston Times posts a letter to the editor from Paul Weirtz, state president of AT&T Minnesota…

Mobile internet coverage is always a hot topic these days, especially in northwestern Minnesota. That’s why I wanted to take an opportunity to highlight some good news AT&T has to offer residents here.

Over the last five years, AT&T has made 115 upgrades to expand our network and boost coverage and reliability in Polk County and the surrounding counties of Kittson, Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake and Rosseau. This includes 36 network upgrades in Crookston, East Grand Forks, and Thief River Falls.

Just last month, we expanded our 4G LTE wireless network in the area with upgrades to an AT&T cell site on Highway 64 west of Thief River Falls. With these enhancements, AT&T customers will experience faster, more reliable wireless service.

We know residents and businesses are doing more with their wireless devices than ever before, and our goal is to give them an effortless network experience, not only in northwestern Minnesota but throughout the state.

That’s why AT&T is committed to investing in our wireless networks across Minnesota. We invested nearly $350 million in our Minnesota networks from 2014 to 2016. In 2017, we made 976 network enhancements across 299 communities in the state, including new cell sites, network upgrades, and capacity expansions. And we are continuing to invest in our networks this year. In fact, expanding our network in Minnesota has given AT&T the most wireless coverage in the state.

Not only do these investments boost reliability, coverage and speed, they also improve critical services that support public safety and first responders.

This is important because last year, Minnesota opted in to FirstNet, accepting a plan from the FirstNet Authority and AT&T to deliver a wireless broadband platform to the state’s public safety community. We are very proud that AT&T, in a public-private partnership with the FirstNet Authority, will build, operate and maintain a highly secure wireless broadband communications platform for Minnesota’s public safety community for the next 25 years at no cost to the state. The FirstNet experience will deliver innovation and create an entire system of modernized devices, apps and tools for first responder subscribers of the service.

As a member of the Governor’s Broadband Task Force, I know full well the benefits of broadband deployment.

I’m very proud of AT&T’s commitment to investing in our networks in Minnesota, and I’m excited for what the future holds.

Paul Weirtz, state president
AT&T Minnesota

 

Free broadband planning and funding application help for your school

Rural School Collaborative posts a good reminder about Education SuperHighway – they offer free broadband planning and help with funding forms. It’s free. So if your school needs help, it would be worth a call…

EducationSuperHighway is the leading nonprofit that is working to ensure every school across the country has access to high-speed broadband. There is no catch. Everything they do for school districts is free of charge, and they have worked extensively with rural schools and in rural communities in over 30 states.

If you have any questions or would like to receive support, contact Alyssa Cubello (alyssa@educationsuperhighway.org) or visit www.educationsuperhighway.org/accelerate to get in touch. EducationSuperHighway can help you:

  • Plan your broadband network upgrade
  • Research technology and provider options
  • Develop your E-rate Form 470 / RFP strategy
  • Evaluate bids and select the best provider solution

Additionally, you can watch their free webinars here to help you understand more about your available E-rate Category 2 budget, make best use of these funds, and run a successful procurement.

Lack of rural broadband is hurting business – reprinted letter from Inter-County Leader

Thank you to the Inter-County Leader for permission to re-post a letter to the editor from someone who had experience with fiber in Minnesota and is talking about what life is like without broadband…

Rural Internet service

When I recently volunteered at Forts Folle Avoine during a fundraising event, their credit card machine stopped working. This was eventually fixed but staff said it happens quite often, especially when they have events where there are lots of people wanting to charge. The staff indicated that internet service in that area was poor.

The previous year, during Gandy Dancer Days, the credit card machine in the coffee shop in Webster did not work. They lost business as people didn’t have cash and most don’t use checks. On a recent visit to the coffee shop, the credit card machine was working but they had no internet. A customer said she was looking for a job and relies on using the internet at places like the coffee shop to apply for jobs. She stated that the school where she previously worked had iPads for students, but they often couldn’t connect due to slow internet speed. So she used her cell phone hot spot which cost her around $200 a month for unlimited data.She stated that this lack of access to the internet does not give local students an equal opportunity in education when compared with other locations in more populated areas.

About two years ago the school where I worked in rural Minnesota, a small town of 500, was getting up-to-date fiber optic cable for better internet access. I believe this was partly funded by the state of Minnesota.

With a population of 15,000 for the whole county of Burnett, the internet provider doesn’t seem to be concerned about the poor internet service. What the company doesn’t realize is that many “lakers,” some coming from the Twin Cities, want good internet service and they are at their cabins regularly. I would recommend that people interested in improving the internet connection in Northwest Wisconsin contact their legislators and their internet service providers asking for better up-to-date internet.

Pam Girtz

Frederic

Unfortunately the state funding she mentions above was not funded in the last legislative session – it was part of the Supplemental Budget that was vetoed.

 

Lake Park citizens tell Sen Utke and Sen Green that they want better broadband – ask about Net Neutrality

Detroit Lakes Online report on a June 7th town hall meeting in Lake Park with Sen. Paul Utke, R-Park Rapids, and Rep. Steve Green, R-Fosston. The meeting has held to give people a chance to talk about the most recent legislative session.

They talked about the need for better broadband in rural Minnesota…

Leno [a technology entrepreneur who lives on Little Cormorant Lake] also brought up the need for more broadband funding by the state.

“The Internet I work with is just barely enough to operate my business; I’m moving gigabyte files. It’s all built on the foundation of a strong Internet,” he said.

Broadband Internet services delivered to rural homes and businesses by fiber optic cable is a huge economic development issue in Minnesota, Leno said, and it should be treated with the importance that rural electrification received early in the last century.

He pays $10 to $15 a gigabit when he goes over his Internet provider’s plan. “When you’re using a terabyte a month, that gets to be expensive,” he said.

Utke agreed that “putting cable in the ground is the best we can do,” to bring reliable, affordable Internet to rural Minnesota.

The Legislature had provided $15 million towards that effort in a bill that ended up vetoed by Gov. Dayton, he said. That was on top of $35 million provided by the Legislature last year, Green added.

and the impact of the Net Neutrality repeal…

Leno also asked the lawmakers to address net neutrality at the state level, by making Internet providers answerable to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. He said he was disappointed that Republicans reversed course on net neutrality at the federal level, allowing Internet providers to slow service for Netflix, for example, or any content producer that doesn’t pay a higher fee.

Neither lawmaker showed any inclination to handle net neutrality at the state level, saying that the federal changes merely reverted the rules to where they were in 2015.

That’s when the problems began with providers slowing down services, and that’s why the FCC acted to regulate internet providers like utilities in 2015, Leno said.

Green noted that CenturyLink provides “some of the poorest coverage,” while local providers like Arvig and Garden Valley Telephone Co. do a great job.

“It would be great if I could get it, yeah,” Leno said.

West Virginia is looking to Minnesota (Blandin) research report for path for better broadband

The Register-Herald suggests that West Virginia look at the report that Bill Coleman and I wrote last fall (Measuring Impact of Broadband in Five Minnesota Communities) to make plans for their broadband future…

With growing talk and debate on how to expand broadband in the Mountain State, leaders might want to look to the Land of 10,000 Lakes for a path forward.

A recent study published by the Blandin Foundation and completed by Treacy Information Services and Community Technology Advisors, “Measuring Impact of Broadband in 5 Rural MN Communities” takes a look at the efforts in a variety of rural counties spread throughout Minnesota and how those efforts have paid off.

The demographic similarities between Beckley and southern West Virginia with one county in the study are striking.

Using formulas to predict future values, gathering community data and host community interviews, researchers with the study traveled to Beltrami, Crow Wing, Goodhue, Lake and Sibley counties to get an on-the-ground perspective of the issues.

The report goes on to specifically compare the Minnesota communities with specific West Virginian communities.

NBC draws from Lake County for story of broadband success and cites recent Blandin report

NBC recently wrote about the impact of broadband in rural America. They make the point that with better broadband, rural communities can see greater economic impact and they use Lake County as the example…

A contractor building high-end houses in Minneapolis swung by Greg Hull’s sawmill on Friday, a timber operation located in deeply rural Lake County, Minnesota. The builder had seen Hull’s website and driven nearly 250 miles to the mill to inspect Hull’s high-end lumber as potential building material for his homes.

These days that’s not unusual. In the past year-and-a-half, Hull has seen orders balloon and interest grow, and a significant factor is his recent ability to gain access to high-speed internet. That’s made a huge difference for the saw mill, located at the end of a power line in an area that knows only gravel roads and limited cellphone coverage.

“Before, if you wanted to download or do anything on the internet, back when it was a phone line system, you couldn’t do anything,” said Hull, who lives and works on 100 acres of Minnesota woodland. “I had to go to the library or hire someone to do stuff, but now we can do it all. We have an improved website. It’s made the whole internet presence a lot more viable, which has in turn opened the exposure.”

That’s something largely new to Lake County, an area that covers 3,000 square miles and stretches from the shores of Lake Superior to the Canadian border. About 10,000 people call this area home. But local leaders there decided they needed high-speed internet, and after nearly eight years and the investment of more than $80 million — much of it coming from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (also known as former President Barack Obama’s stimulus bill) — access to the internet is beginning to boost the local economy.

That could mean a long-term impact of tens of millions of dollars in household economic benefit and residential real estate value, a report by the Blandin Foundation claimed.

The economic upside of internet access is being pushed by rural broadband advocates across the country who say that there isn’t enough being done to connect rural communities. Building out the necessary infrastructure, they argue, could function as an economic and informational driver for some of the country’s most cash-strapped regions.

Digidaze Community Technology Fair Comes to Rondo Library (St Paul) June 15

For folks in the area, this is an event announcement. For folks not in the area, this is an idea you might want to replicate…

Digidaze Community Technology Fair Comes to Rondo Library
Join us for a free public fair showcasing learning opportunities related to technology for youth, adults and seniors. There will be four laptop giveways from  Minnesota Computer for Schools throughout the day; free food; activities for youth; lessons on using online library services for adults; face painting; free tech advice; media production games; and sign-ups for free classes about computer and employment skills in your neighborhood.
Check out the event page on Facebook!
WHEN: Friday, June 15th, 10:30AM-3PM
WHERE: Rondo Community Outreach Library in Saint Paul, 461 N Dale St
CONTACT: krogstad@spnn.org for more information.
DigiDaze is presented by SPNN’s 35 AmeriCorps members of the Community Technology Empowerment Project and the Saint Paul Public Library.
Help us spread the word with this flyer!