MN folks explain that we need broadband in fields and trails too – for safety!

There were so many great presenters at the MN Broadband Conference earlier this week. It was rewarding to see that their voices are being heard in and out of Minnesota as Broadband Breakfast reports

Hosting Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota on Tuesday, the Blandin Foundation heard from a representative for a league of municipalities that the senator should take back to Washington a call for funding in areas for connectivity that are traditionally not considered rural.

Brenda Johnson, executive director of the Southeastern Minnesota League of Municipalities, told Klobuchar that small cities that receive a high number of tourists and boost the local economy in Southeastern Minnesota should be included in the definition of “rural.”

“Down here we have a lot tourism which takes people into the beautiful parts of our bluff country,” Johnson said. “It’s a difficult area to serve [broadband] . . . when we have people visiting we need them to be safe but in Whalan, they have no way to get signal.”

Klobuchar responded by illustrating the need for greater connectivity. “Snowmobilers, people who in the middle of winter, that’s very scary too when something goes wrong and their cell phone won’t work . . . that’s why we’re pushing for this emergency funding,” she said.

Klobuchar has regarded herself as a key part of the broadband provisions included in the Senate-passed infrastructure bill, which includes $65 billion for broadband. Setting an optimistic tone, Klobuchar told the audience that the infrastructure bill would pass in the House of Representatives, though a vote isn’t scheduled.

2021 MN Broadband Conference: Final notes, inspiration and links to all sessions

Thanks to everyone who attended the 2021 MN Broadband conference – Building on Broadband: Inspiring Progress. There was a lot of great information. Thanks also to the speakers who shared their experience and expertise with us. As every year, Bernadine Joselyn gives a great analysis of the week in her video recap below. Followed by links to video and notes for each session.

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

2021 MN Broadband Day Three: Now What? Regional Gatherings Report Out: Next steps for Minnesota’s regions

Now What? Regional Gatherings Report Out: Next steps for Minnesota’s regions
Building on the regional report-outs from Days One and Two, broadband champions discuss what we can do together to organize for better broadband for all, elected officials respond, and everybody weighs in on next steps.

  • Jim Retka, Northwest RDC & Antonio Franklin, Headwaters RDC – Northwest & Headwaters: Regions 1, 2
  • Whitney Ridlon, MN Dept of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation – Arrowhead: Region 3 minus Aitkin County
  • Greg Wagner, West Central Initiative Foundation – West Central: Region 4
  • Michelle Marotzke, Mid-Minnesota Development Commission – Upper MN Valley, Mid-Minnesota, and Southwest: Regions 6W, 6E, 8
  • Lezlie Sauter, Pine County EDA – East Central: Region 7E plus Aitkin County
  • Laura Kangas, Arvig – Central: Region 7W
  • Brenda Johnson, Southeastern MN League of Municipalities – Southeast & South Central: Regions 9, 10

Continue reading

2021 MN Broadband Day Three: Staying Inspired: Spreading What Works

Speed-story-telling by people working to bring the benefits of broadband to families, businesses and communities in rural Minnesota. Show, Tell, and Discussion. Moderated by Jane Leonard, President, Growth and Justice

  • Cannon Roots Local Foods Initiative – Laura Qualey, Community & Economic Development Specialist, CEDA (Community & Economic Development Associates)
  • Le Sueur County Blandin Broadband Community – Barbara Dröher Kline, Le Sueur County Blandin Broadband Community (see video below)
  • Bringing Digital Marketing Concepts to Rural Areas – Molly Solberg, Molly Solberg Marketing, Duluth, MN
  • Digital Innovations in Healthcare – Liz Dean, Executive Director of Strategy & Business Development, and Nicole Hawkinson, Clinical Information Analyst, Riverwood Health Center, Aitkin, MN
  • Education Innovations – Zach Pruitt, Executive Director, Northfield Healthy Community Initiative

Presentation from Education Innovations – Zach Pruitt

Presentation from Cannon Roots Local Foods Initiative – Laura Qualey Continue reading

2021 MN Broadband Day Three: Reflections on “Farm Fresh Broadband: The Politics of Rural Connectivity”

Dr. Christopher Ali, Associate Professor of Media Studies, University of Virginia
Introduced by Adrianne B. Furniss, Executive Director, Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

In his new book, Professor Ali offers an analysis of the failure of U.S. broadband policy to solve the rural–urban digital divide and a proposal for a building a better broadband future. Ali will describe what it would look like to create a multistakeholder system, guided by thoughtful public policy and funded by public and private support.


Chat from session:

Christopher Ali

09:38:39 From  Bernadine Joselyn (she/her)  to  Everyone: and not only because of his fabulous haircut!

09:44:53 From  Mary Ann Van Cura  to  Everyone: I know where that green giant statue is located lol

09:48:49 From  Mary Magnuson (she/her)  to  Everyone: Feel free to use the chat for questions and comments!

09:53:11 From  Ida Rukavina  to  Everyone: Thank you!

09:56:06 From  Bill Coleman  to  Everyone: Christopher, what can community champions do to convince reluctant electric cooperatives to solve their region’s broadband issues?

09:57:56 From  Ann Treacy  to  Everyone: a network is only as strong as its weakest node!

09:58:00 From  Ida Rukavina  to  Everyone: Electric cooperative boards are elected members- elect members who understand and champion broadband

09:58:23 From  Bernadine Joselyn (she/her)  to  Everyone: The need to look at all of these aspects of broadband “in one breath” is the reason why Blandin Foundation uses the Intelligent Community Framework, that encourages folks to hold in their minds the full “wheel” – infrastructure, knowledge workforce, innovation, digital inclusion, advocacy and sustainability.

09:59:44 From  Katie Malchow  to  Everyone: Is there a preferred place to purchase Christopher’s book?

10:00:19 From  Bill Coleman  to  Everyone: Ida, I have encouraged region’s to consider this as a strategy.  Those boards do tend to be very entrenched with long-standing membership and low voting enthusiasm

10:00:42 From  Adrianne Furniss  to  Everyone: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/farm-fresh-broadband

10:00:56 From  Ida Rukavina  to  Everyone: Bill- its a good idea= to encourage members who care to run for these positions

10:01:26 From  Bernadine Joselyn (she/her)  to  Everyone: Thanks, Adrianne for that guidance on the preferred place to buy Christopher’s book.

10:02:51 From  Calla Jarvie  to  Everyone: The Rock County Community Library owns a copy of Christopher’s book! There’s a chapter on Rock County 🙂

10:03:15 From  Mary Ann Van Cura  to  Everyone: even in Minneapolis where there is an affordable private-public internet service, trees and leaves prevent the signals from getting to some homes. [mine included!]

10:03:16 From  Christopher Ali  to  Everyone: Hi Calla! Great to see you again!!

10:05:21 From  Bill Coleman  to  Everyone: I also think that farmers can help provide significant capital for broadband expansion.  I was on a call in Illinois where a Farm Bureau representative said that the average farmer could net approximately $70,000 annually from the use of precision agriculture which requires broadband.

10:07:40 From  Christopher Ali  to  Everyone:@Ida – there’s a great example of how member-owners of electric cooperatives have mobilized to encourage their co-op to offer retail broadband: https://www.myrec.coop/work-underway-expand-broadband-rec-member-owners-louisa

10:07:58 From  Ida Rukavina  to  Everyone: Thank you!


Info on Speaker:

In his new book, Professor Ali offers an analysis of the failure of U.S. broadband policy to solve the rural–urban digital divide and a proposal for a building a better broadband future. Ali will describe what it would look like to create a multistakeholder system, guided by thoughtful public policy and funded by public and private support.

Dr. Christopher Ali is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia and Knight News Innovation Fellow with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. His research and writing focus on broadband policy, planning, and deployment, particularly in rural communities. He is the author of the new book Farm Fresh Broadband: The Politics of Rural Connectivity, and has written for The New York Times, The Hill, Realtor Magazine, and Digital Beat.

Adrianne B. Furniss is Executive Director and board member of the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society. For 40 years, the Benton Institute has helped strengthen communities by advancing communications policy in the public interest while providing day-to-day support and resources to the community of people who care about “broadband for all.”

Currently, Adrianne serves on two additional boards — the Board of Advisors for the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC), which represents a wide range of public and private interests who support the authority of local communities to make the broadband Internet choices that are essential for economic competitiveness, democratic discourse, and quality of life in the 21st century; and as Secretary and Executive Committee member of the Board of Directors for PC’s for People, a national nonprofit based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Through electronic reuse, PCs for People provides the opportunity for all low-income individuals and nonprofits to benefit from the life changing impact of computers and mobile internet.

2021 MN Broadband Day Two: Impromptu attendee chat on Starlink

At the Blandin Broadband conference today, We talked about two reports on Surveys, Data and Stories to Inform Policy and Investment (Analysis of Accelerate Survey Results and East Central MN Broadband Stories Report ).

The discussion spurred a lot of text chat from attendees on Starlink that seemed worth pulling out of the regular agenda:

Starlink

10:16:18 From  Jim Yount  to  Everyone: I would like today’s discussions to explore how full public release of Starlink relates to the broadband issues we’ve been talking about for years.  Very good internet is now available everywhere in MN with a decent view of the sky… as long as you can afford it.  Availability is effectively no longer an issue.  Equitability/affordability is now the major issue for access.   We still want to expand the fiber/cable to the home and ISP competition, but some funders and communities are now at least somewhat more likely to say “what’s the point now that there’s Starlink?”

10:17:05 From  Scott Cole-Collectivity  to  Everyone: once they’re the full constellation the latency will be down to 10ms

10:17:06 From  Lezlie Sauter  to  Everyone: I signed up for Starlink 6 months ago and have yet to receive the equipment, so it’s not truly accessible yet.

10:18:33 From  Jim Yount  to  Everyone: True they are still ramping up capacity and performance, but it’s still a game changer and it’s important to discuss how Starlink influences the internet access landscape.

10:23:42 From  Bill Coleman  to  Everyone: These are good questions around Starlink.  It is a tech marvel.  I have read about their actual full capacity to serve millions of rural customers.  Jim’s question about affordability as a primary barrier is also interesting, especially as the feds fund the EBB program now with more direct consumer subsidy programs in the works.

10:28:25 From  Bill Coleman  to  Everyone: To clarify my comment above, I read that Starlink may be only able to serve a limited number of customers.

10:29:24 From  Bill Coleman  to  Everyone: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20210510/08050146767/elon-musk-makes-it-clear-starlink-wont-have-capacity-to-disrupt-us-broadband.shtml

10:41:25 From  Jim Yount  to  Everyone: Thanks Bill, that article is an excellent discussion of the capacity limits of Starlink.  I entirely agree that the emergence of Starlink does not mean “problem solved”.  I suspect you agree that it is nonetheless a game changer that merits further careful thought and analysis of its potential impacts on the broadband connectivity landscape.  Important to consider for medium and long-term planning.

10:45:58 From  Jim Yount  to  Everyone: If Starlink’s capacity is only 1% of the US population it’s impact on the underserved will nonetheless be dramatically larger for several reasons.  Starlink is mainly relevant not to the entire US population but rather to those who are underserved or very dissatisfied but still able to pay Starlink’s rates.  They can serve much more that 1% of that smaller group to whom they are relevant.

10:51:39 From  Jim Yount  to  Everyone: It’s also important to recognize that their capacity is spread fairly even across the landscape because their constellation of satellites is necessarily/wisely widely spread out.  If they are eventually able to serve 1 million households in the US, for example, those households must be fairly evenly spread out over the entire country.  This means that while they could only serve a tiny fraction of the population of Los Angeles they can serve a relatively large fraction of sparsely populated regions, likely rising to 100% in the most remote areas.

10:52:18 From  Mike Wimmer  to  Everyone: I’m a big believer in Starlink and believe that much like Fixed-Wireless it is a part of the solution. One concern I have about Starlink is that right now the process of setting up the service is not easy for many rural residents. If you are comfortable with technology it is relatively simple, but I could see older residents and those not comfortable with technology struggling to set it up. My hope is that once it exits beta testing, SpaceX allow for 3rd party installers similar to existing cable/internet to cover that gap.

10:56:10 From  Yvonne Cariveau  to  Everyone: A key for best speed and service is for each household to have options.  StarLink is one option, but landline availability and fixed wireless are other important ones needed not just for households but also for schools, businesses and farms in rural areas, so I don’t see StarLink as THE answer to availability, but certainly part of the puzzle.

10:57:00 From  Lezlie Sauter  to  Everyone: I hopeful for Starlink and know a few families who it immensely helped during the pandemic. But I also know many families that hoped it would get them connected but have yet to receive their hardware (so they continue to use cellular hotspots or DSL).

10:57:11 From  Mike Wimmer  to  Everyone: But I think the technology behind Starlink is legitimate and will help cover the broadband gap, especially in the areas of the state/country where FTTP is unlikely to ever happen short of 100% subsidy. I’ll be curious if Project Kuiper/Blue Origin is able to eventually offer some sort of service as well. They seem to be falling further behind SpaceX/Starlink everyday, but have a bottomless pit of cash to draw from (Bezos).

10:59:18 From  Mike Wimmer  to  Everyone: I think Starlink is boosting production of the dishes to meet demand. I suspect they are impacted (like all tech) by the chip shortages. I saw yesterday that even Apple is dropping iPhone production because they cannot get some of the chips that they need. If even Apple is struggling, I can only imagine more “niche” uses of chips like Starlink are in an even more difficult spot.

10:59:35 From  Jim Yount  to  Everyone: Actually, I am a 3rd party installer about to install my 3rd Starlink dish on Friday… All 3 of those are (no surprise) older folks not excited about climbing their roof or a tower even *if* they’re comfortable with the tech, per se.  It’s allowed, but it’s entirely up to the end-user to find a contractor and it’s not cheap.  I’m well aware that there are many folks in our county who have no fast options other than Starlink but can’t or would greatly struggle to pay the upfront cost and monthly cost, never mind professional installation.  I’d rather they have excellent fiber to the home than pay me to put in Starlink.

11:00:40 From  Marc Johnson  to  Everyone: In the discussion about options, including satellite and fixed wireless, remember the comment that “upload speed is productivity.”

11:03:49 From  Ben Winchester  to  Everyone: Agree. Download=consumption. Upload=Production, I always hit on the economic side of upstream – we want to participate as producers in the knowledge economy not just consume it.

11:05:59 From  Jim Yount  to  Everyone: I like how Yvonne expressed it: Starlink is not THE answer to availability but certainly is part of the puzzle.  What I’m advocating is a thoughtful, detailed discussion to explore that that puzzle piece really looks like and the details of how it fits into the overall puzzle.  I’ve spent a lot of time trying to expand my understanding of that bigger picture, with an eye on how to advise the stakeholders and decision makers in my community (and elsewhere).  But we’re all smarter together.  I very definitely don’t have all the answers!

I’d love to see a mini-conference on “how Starlink changes broadband”, perhaps sponsored by the Blandin Foundation!

11:06:53 From  Jay Trusty  to  Everyone: Honestly, I think the largest disadvantage of the Starlink discussion is that it gives legislators an out when we approach them about resources to bring broadband to unserved areas.  They don’t actually have to spend time learning the issues, they can just say Starlink makes the effort moot.

11:08:11 From  Bernadine Joselyn (she/her)  to  Everyone: Jay: I agree 100%

11:08:22 From  Lezlie Sauter  to  Everyone: Jay, you’re absolutely correct. We’ve had people walk away from our community broadband work because they believe Starlink will fix it all.

11:09:39 From  Jim Yount  to  Everyone: I very strongly agree, Jay.  That’s one of the likely negative impacts of Starlink that I’m quite concerned.  Lots of side effects that should be explored.  And responses devised, such as getting the message out that we still very much need to expand our terrestrial infrastructure.

11:10:01 From  Ben Winchester  to  Everyone: Yes Jay that is my primary concern.

11:11:33 From  Jim Yount  to  Everyone: Deciders, funders, community advocates, voters, etc. need to understand both the potential and limitations of Starlink.

11:34:34 From  Anne Brataas  to  Everyone: Just a note on Starlink science and tech: I’m a professional science writer and happen to be writing for NASA now, and what jumps out over and over to me is the lightly-regulated satellite scene and competition for slots by international players. This is immensely relevant to Starlink’s ability to deliver broadband sustainably. Needs to discussed.

11:54:29 From  Scott Cole-Collectivity  to  Everyone: The projected Starlink latency will be down to 10ms in the full (post-beta) deployment

2021 MN Broadband Day Two: Broadband Project Development 101

A high level tech overview covering strengths/weaknesses of the various last mile technologies, both wired and wireless, followed by a panel discussion on broadband projects and partnerships. Moderated by Bill Coleman, Community Technology Advisors

  • Joe Buttweiler, Director of Business Development, CTC
  • Mark Mrla, Director, Strategy Operations, Finley Engineering
  • Whitney Ridlon, Community Development Rep., MN Dept of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation
  • Barbara Dröher Kline, Le Sueur County Broadband
  • Justin Forde, Senior Director of Government Relations, Midco
  • Kyle Moorhead, Founder, Hometown Fiber


Chat from the session:

Broadband project development

11:53:57 From  Mike Wimmer  to  Everyone: One small thing that might be of significant help to smaller communities is to have some sort of spreadsheet or database available to local officials of recommended provider contacts. I don’t know if this is something the Blandin Foundation could do or if the Office of Broadband would be a better fit for it. With all of the public funds available I think many communities will be wanting to reach out to providers, but not knowing who the best person to reach out to is. This likely isn’t an issue for areas with small, local companies (or co-ops), but the larger companies are a bit of a maze to navigate on who to speak with. Just an idea.

11:54:41 From  Benya Kraus  to  Everyone: ^ I agree, Mike!

11:57:52 From  Scott Cole-Collectivity  to  Everyone: Trees (especially pine trees) are the enemy of radio waves 🙂

12:02:31 From  Brian Frederick  to  Everyone: Mike, here is a link to Deed’s data regarding available providers: https://mn.gov/deed/programs-services/broadband/maps/data.jsp

12:03:11 From  Bernadine Joselyn (she/her)  to  Everyone: Thanks for that suggestion, Mike. Some communities Blandin has worked with have indeed created local “guides” like this for residents.

12:06:34 From  Mary Magnuson (she/her)  to  Everyone: The Leadership webinar series is partway down the page https://blandinfoundation.org/programs/broadband/blandin-community-broadband-program-webinar-series/

12:07:10 From  Mary Magnuson (she/her)  to  Everyone: More like the bottom of the page!

12:07:22 From  Mike Wimmer  to  Everyone: Thank you Brian & Bernadine! I was thinking along the lines of providing a database available to local officials that lists “Mike’s Internet Service – email/phone”. It would host info for who a County, City, or Township should contact if they want to discuss partnering with them on a broadband project. Not an issue with small, local companies or co-ops where people generally know who to contact, but a provider like CenturyLink is more difficult to find.

12:12:56 From  Bernadine Joselyn (she/her)  to  Everyone: Barbara Droher Kline is THE Barbara named in Benya’s “roll-up” slide deck summarizing regional input about what does MN need to get better broadband everywhere: “More Barbaras!”

12:19:50 From  Mary Magnuson (she/her)  to  Everyone: Read the panelists’ bios here https://blandinfoundation.org/articles/broadband-project-development/

12:19:53 From  Reno Wells  to  Everyone: Townships are required to comply with the Open Meeting Law.  Townships have a County Unit where they get together monthly, quarterly or annually where they gather as groups.

12:34:01 From  Jon Lubke Jenkins  to  Everyone:                Have to leave now. Thanks for all the info. Mayor Jenkins

12:34:06 From  Bernadine Joselyn (she/her)  to  Everyone: Whitney – now you are singing Blandin’s tune! Yes! Access AND adoption!

12:35:07 From  Mary Magnuson (she/her)  to  Everyone: Before you go, complete the Day 2 Conference Evaluation: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/C5MFJ8W

12:38:37 From  Bernadine Joselyn (she/her)  to  Everyone: Everyone: Here again is the link to participant survey: We would love your feedback! Please take a moment to get this back to us: Before you go, complete the Day 2 Conference Evaluation: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/C5MFJ8W

12:42:13 From  Bernadine Joselyn (she/her)  to  Everyone: Librarians are always great community resources for this work

12:42:49 From  Mary Ann Van Cura  to  Everyone: school library media specialists can be a touch point for who is online

12:44:00 From  Bernadine Joselyn (she/her)  to  Everyone: health care administrators, also – as they have an institutional interest in promoting tele-health, and they need broadband infrastructure for that.

12:44:40 From  Yvonne Cariveau  to  Everyone: Leaders in ag, like Sam Ziegler from Green Seam would be key to have involved.  So much is going on with tech for farmers – monitoring herds, equipment, etc all requires internet.

12:48:18 From  Bernadine Joselyn (she/her)  to  Everyone: We will begin the conference tomorrow at 8:30 AM with coffee and conversation: Program begins at 9 AM with a welcome from Mark Ritchie of Global MN, former MN Secretary of State.

13:00:48 From  Justin Forde  to  Everyone: Justin.Forde@midco.com

13:00:51 From  Justin Forde  to  Everyone: Thanks All!

13:01:08 From  Laura Kangas- Arvig  to  Everyone: laura.kangas@arvig.com

13:01:10 From  Yvonne Cariveau  to  Everyone: Thanks to all the organizers and presenters, another informative day!  See ya tomorrow.

13:01:58 From  Mary Magnuson (she/her)  to  Everyone: Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/C5MFJ8W

13:02:03 From  Marc Johnson  to  Everyone: Thanks everyone! Great Day!!

13:02:21 From  Benya Kraus  to  Everyone: Thanks all!


Info on Speakers:

Joe Buttweiler, Director of Business Development, CTC
Joe uses his 17 years of experience working for electric utilities deploying technology systems and infrastructure to assist public sector organizations, utilities and telecommunications companies to provide or partner to provide broadband solutions. Having established two of the most well-known and successful electric-telco partnerships right here in Minnesota, CTC is considered a premier resource for utilities and public-sector organizations interested in deploying Broadband. CTC now works with companies across the United States to help them deploy or structure partnerships to deploy broadband networks. Joe studied GIS at Bemidji State University and holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University.

Mark Mrla, Director, Strategy Operations, Finley Engineering
Mark joined Finley Engineering Company in 2008 and works out of the Slayton, MN office. He currently serves as Director of Strategic Operations and is responsible for business development as well as some project management, engineering, budgeting, scheduling and client relations. Mark also coordinates teams and processes for loan and grant applications for various federal and state government programs. Prior to joining Finley, Mark served in various management and technical positions at MidAmerican Energy Company, Gateway, Inc., and owned and operated a private technology consulting company. Mark holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Iowa, is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and is a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) in 13 states.

Whitney Ridlon, Community Development Rep., MN Dept of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation
Whitney Ridlon has worked in community development for over 15 years in both rural and urban communities. She holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Metropolitan State University. Passionate for her home communities on the Iron Range, she moved back home from St Paul in 2014 to work in community development for the Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation. She has been working to expand broadband into rural areas of NE MN, connect local communities to financial and technical resources, and also administers a variety of community grant programs that encourage community planning, partnerships, and downtown/business revitalization. In her free time she enjoys teaching figure skating, participating in grassroots community initiatives, and spending time with daughter Della, son Wyatt, and husband Josh. Most of all she is grateful to be back home on the Iron Range raising her family and making a positive difference in the communities she grew up in and loves.

Barbara Dröher Kline, Le Sueur County Broadband
Barbara Dröher Kline is a financial advisor, with experience as a county consultant, human services department head, non-profit director, county coroner, farmer and community organizer. She grew up in Minnesota and lived in Northern California on and off over 30 years, returning to Le Sueur County four -years ago. With her husband, they renovated a 125-year-old farmhouse with horses and standard poodles. They lived in a canyon in the Bay area in a redwood cabin, 3 miles down a 4-mile dead end road into the East Bay Park system with no fire roads in the event of a fire. She led the community effort for fire mitigation partnering with Cal Fire. Her current office is at the farm which initially had frontier dial up, then fixed wireless and a year ago purchased access to broadband fiber. Since March 2018, she has been leading with her county commissioner and support from Blandin, the Le Sueur County Broadband Coalition to extend access to broadband to the rest of our rural county.

Justin Forde, Senior Director of Government Relations, Midco
As Senior Director of Government Relations for Midco, Justin Forde oversees the company’s government affairs team in Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, as well as at the federal level. Forde has testified before Congress and speaks frequently about rural broadband and Midco’s role in connecting the digital divide. Before joining Midco, Forde worked as regional director for Senator John Hoeven’s office, development manager for Bismarck State College and assistant director of marketing for North Dakota State University. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Northern State University and his master’s degree from Florida State University.

Kyle Moorhead, Founder, Hometown Fiber
Kyle Moorhead’s consulting experience blends technical expertise with a community-driven focus. For 30 years the founder of Hometown Fiber worked closely with municipalities, courts, K-12 schools, universities and businesses to solve technology challenges—including the design, construction and maintenance of fiber optic networks. Kyle also worked with broadcasters and ISPs to build, troubleshoot, repair and maintain hundreds of miles of privately owned fiber optic, twisted pair, coaxial and wireless networks.

This work-boots-on-the-ground view provided Kyle and his team direct experience with the multiple technical and financial reasons communities don’t often get the internet service they need to thrive.

While a new company, Hometown Fiber is filled with telecommunications industry veterans who tackle broadband challenges from a community’s perspective to ensure investments made today give residents and businesses reliable, affordable and fast internet service for years to come.

Moderator:

Bill Coleman, Principal, Community Technology Advisors
Bill Coleman supports community economic development and broadband initiatives through innovative training, planning and implementation programs. He was a lead staff with the innovative Minnesota Star City Program before shifting his focus to technology-based economic development. Bill’s current clients include community broadband leaders Blandin Foundation and the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society. In community and professional service, he is on the board of PCs for People, an analyst and juror for the Intelligent Community Forum and chair of TEDxMahtomedi.

2021 MN Broadband Day Two: So What? Regional Gatherings Report Out: How can rural Minnesota communities realize their greatest broadband opportunities?

A diverse panel of stakeholders responds to a summary of participant input heard at eight regional broadband gatherings held across the state in September and October, and offers advice to regions on how to make progress. Moderated by Bill Coleman, Community Technology Advisors

  • Tarryl Clark, Commissioner, Stearns County
  • Angie Dickison, Executive Director, MN DEED Office of Broadband Development
  • Brian Krambeer, President/CEO, MiEnergy Cooperative
  • Benya Kraus, Executive Director, Lead for Minnesota
  • Bree Maki, Broadband and Regional Field Rep., Office of Senator Tina Smith
  • David Schornack, Director of Business Development and Sales, Arvig
  • Jay Trusty, Executive Director, Southwest Regional Development Commission


Presentation on the Regional Convenings.


Continue reading

2021 MN Broadband Day Two: Getting it Done: Advocacy and Action

2021 MN Broadband Day Two: Getting it Done: Advocacy and Action

Getting it Done: Advocacy and Action
A series of fast-moving presentations about efforts across Minnesota to improve access and adoption and advocate for broadband investment. Presentation and Discussion. Moderated by Bernadine Joselyn, Blandin Foundation



Chat from session:

Advocacy & Action Panel

09:52:23 From  Mary Magnuson (she/her)  to  Everyone: Use that chat for questions!

09:59:21 From  Bill Coleman  to  Everyone: Are there regional variations in the “welcoming” atmosphere?

10:01:58 From  Scott Cole-Collectivity  to  Everyone: Awesome – thanks Ben!!

10:02:09 From  Benya Kraus  to  Everyone: Always breathless by Ben!

10:02:38 From  Ben Winchester  to  Everyone: No significant variation in welcoming

10:03:44 From  Mary Magnuson (she/her)  to  Everyone: CBR: Accelerate Program: https://blandinfoundation.org/programs/broadband/community-broadband-resources-accelerate/

10:04:36 From  Mary Magnuson (she/her)  to  Everyone: Analysis of Accelerate Survey Results: https://blandinfoundation.org/content/uploads/2021.07.07.-Up-to-Speed-Broadband-FINAL-report.pdf

10:05:11 From  Mary Magnuson (she/her)  to  Everyone: East Central MN Broadband Stories Report (from the survey): https://blandinfoundation.org/content/uploads/East-Central-MN-Broadband-Stories-Report-Oct-2021.pdf

10:13:02 From  Bill Coleman  to  Everyone: Visited my brother in the Michigan UP last weekend.  He was happy with his foxed wireless Internet because it generally worked.  I did a speed test and it was 5 Mb down, 2 Mb up.  I was surprised that it actually worked to stream Netflix but the picture quality was not great.  Watching live TV (sports), the stream regularly buffered.

10:13:42 From  Scott Cole-Collectivity  to  Everyone: Curious

10:14:24 From  Mary DeVany  to  Everyone: telehealth isn’t on the list? or, was it just not high enough to reach the slide…?

10:14:36 From  Ida Rukavina  to  Everyone: not just cabins- people in northern MN would love to install Ring service or something similar for their rural homes. Heard about this often.

10:14:45 From  Scott Cole-Collectivity  to  Everyone: Bill, was the advertised speed the same as the tested speed?

10:15:20 From  Bill Coleman  to  Everyone: I did not ask that question Scott.

10:15:29 From  Scott Cole-Collectivity  to  Everyone: Thx 🙂

10:16:03 From  Mary Ann Van Cura  to  Everyone: great list: availability, affordability, speed, reliability

10:23:07 From  Hussein Farah  to  Everyone: ConnectedMN Website: www.connectedmn.us

10:32:34 From  Anne Hoyt Taff she/hers  to  Everyone: ConnectedMN.us/grantees1 is a list/interactive of the grantees to date

10:33:16 From  Scott Cole-Collectivity  to  Everyone: https://www.connectedmn.us/grantees1

10:41:31 From  Scott Cole-Collectivity  to  Everyone: Thank you Anne and Hussein!! Really well done 🙂

10:41:58 From  Anne Hoyt Taff she/hers  to  Everyone: Thanks to everyone for your leadership on connectivity issues! Makes a huge difference for MN families and students.

10:42:07 From  Benya Kraus  to  Everyone: Ditto! Thank you Anne and Hussein – what a rapid response, yet still held such a community informed approach. Thank you!


Chat on Starlink:

Starlink

10:16:18 From  Jim Yount  to  Everyone: I would like today’s discussions to explore how full public release of Starlink relates to the broadband issues we’ve been talking about for years.  Very good internet is now available everywhere in MN with a decent view of the sky… as long as you can afford it.  Availability is effectively no longer an issue.  Equitability/affordability is now the major issue for access.   We still want to expand the fiber/cable to the home and ISP competition, but some funders and communities are now at least somewhat more likely to say “what’s the point now that there’s Starlink?”

10:17:05 From  Scott Cole-Collectivity  to  Everyone: once they’re the full constellation the latency will be down to 10ms

10:17:06 From  Lezlie Sauter  to  Everyone: I signed up for Starlink 6 months ago and have yet to receive the equipment, so it’s not truly accessible yet.

10:18:33 From  Jim Yount  to  Everyone: True they are still ramping up capacity and performance, but it’s still a game changer and it’s important to discuss how Starlink influences the internet access landscape.

10:23:42 From  Bill Coleman  to  Everyone: These are good questions around Starlink.  It is a tech marvel.  I have read about their actual full capacity to serve millions of rural customers.  Jim’s question about affordability as a primary barrier is also interesting, especially as the feds fund the EBB program now with more direct consumer subsidy programs in the works.

10:28:25 From  Bill Coleman  to  Everyone: To clarify my comment above, I read that Starlink may be only able to serve a limited number of customers.

10:29:24 From  Bill Coleman  to  Everyone: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20210510/08050146767/elon-musk-makes-it-clear-starlink-wont-have-capacity-to-disrupt-us-broadband.shtml

10:41:25 From  Jim Yount  to  Everyone: Thanks Bill, that article is an excellent discussion of the capacity limits of Starlink.  I entirely agree that the emergence of Starlink does not mean “problem solved”.  I suspect you agree that it is nonetheless a game changer that merits further careful thought and analysis of its potential impacts on the broadband connectivity landscape.  Important to consider for medium and long-term planning.

10:45:58 From  Jim Yount  to  Everyone: If Starlink’s capacity is only 1% of the US population it’s impact on the underserved will nonetheless be dramatically larger for several reasons.  Starlink is mainly relevant not to the entire US population but rather to those who are underserved or very dissatisfied but still able to pay Starlink’s rates.  They can serve much more that 1% of that smaller group to whom they are relevant.

10:51:39 From  Jim Yount  to  Everyone: It’s also important to recognize that their capacity is spread fairly even across the landscape because their constellation of satellites is necessarily/wisely widely spread out.  If they are eventually able to serve 1 million households in the US, for example, those households must be fairly evenly spread out over the entire country.  This means that while they could only serve a tiny fraction of the population of Los Angeles they can serve a relatively large fraction of sparsely populated regions, likely rising to 100% in the most remote areas.

10:52:18 From  Mike Wimmer  to  Everyone: I’m a big believer in Starlink and believe that much like Fixed-Wireless it is a part of the solution. One concern I have about Starlink is that right now the process of setting up the service is not easy for many rural residents. If you are comfortable with technology it is relatively simple, but I could see older residents and those not comfortable with technology struggling to set it up. My hope is that once it exits beta testing, SpaceX allow for 3rd party installers similar to existing cable/internet to cover that gap.

10:56:10 From  Yvonne Cariveau  to  Everyone: A key for best speed and service is for each household to have options.  StarLink is one option, but landline availability and fixed wireless are other important ones needed not just for households but also for schools, businesses and farms in rural areas, so I don’t see StarLink as THE answer to availability, but certainly part of the puzzle.

10:57:00 From  Lezlie Sauter  to  Everyone: I hopeful for Starlink and know a few families who it immensely helped during the pandemic. But I also know many families that hoped it would get them connected but have yet to receive their hardware (so they continue to use cellular hotspots or DSL).

10:57:11 From  Mike Wimmer  to  Everyone: But I think the technology behind Starlink is legitimate and will help cover the broadband gap, especially in the areas of the state/country where FTTP is unlikely to ever happen short of 100% subsidy. I’ll be curious if Project Kuiper/Blue Origin is able to eventually offer some sort of service as well. They seem to be falling further behind SpaceX/Starlink everyday, but have a bottomless pit of cash to draw from (Bezos).

10:59:18 From  Mike Wimmer  to  Everyone: I think Starlink is boosting production of the dishes to meet demand. I suspect they are impacted (like all tech) by the chip shortages. I saw yesterday that even Apple is dropping iPhone production because they cannot get some of the chips that they need. If even Apple is struggling, I can only imagine more “niche” uses of chips like Starlink are in an even more difficult spot.

10:59:35 From  Jim Yount  to  Everyone: Actually, I am a 3rd party installer about to install my 3rd Starlink dish on Friday… All 3 of those are (no surprise) older folks not excited about climbing their roof or a tower even *if* they’re comfortable with the tech, per se.  It’s allowed, but it’s entirely up to the end-user to find a contractor and it’s not cheap.  I’m well aware that there are many folks in our county who have no fast options other than Starlink but can’t or would greatly struggle to pay the upfront cost and monthly cost, never mind professional installation.  I’d rather they have excellent fiber to the home than pay me to put in Starlink.

11:00:40 From  Marc Johnson  to  Everyone: In the discussion about options, including satellite and fixed wireless, remember the comment that “upload speed is productivity.”

11:03:49 From  Ben Winchester  to  Everyone: Agree. Download=consumption. Upload=Production, I always hit on the economic side of upstream – we want to participate as producers in the knowledge economy not just consume it.

11:05:59 From  Jim Yount  to  Everyone: I like how Yvonne expressed it: Starlink is not THE answer to availability but certainly is part of the puzzle.  What I’m advocating is a thoughtful, detailed discussion to explore that that puzzle piece really looks like and the details of how it fits into the overall puzzle.  I’ve spent a lot of time trying to expand my understanding of that bigger picture, with an eye on how to advise the stakeholders and decision makers in my community (and elsewhere).  But we’re all smarter together.  I very definitely don’t have all the answers!

I’d love to see a mini-conference on “how Starlink changes broadband”, perhaps sponsored by the Blandin Foundation!

11:06:53 From  Jay Trusty  to  Everyone: Honestly, I think the largest disadvantage of the Starlink discussion is that it gives legislators an out when we approach them about resources to bring broadband to unserved areas.  They don’t actually have to spend time learning the issues, they can just say Starlink makes the effort moot.

11:08:11 From  Bernadine Joselyn (she/her)  to  Everyone: Jay: I agree 100%

11:08:22 From  Lezlie Sauter  to  Everyone: Jay, you’re absolutely correct. We’ve had people walk away from our community broadband work because they believe Starlink will fix it all.

11:09:39 From  Jim Yount  to  Everyone: I very strongly agree, Jay.  That’s one of the likely negative impacts of Starlink that I’m quite concerned.  Lots of side effects that should be explored.  And responses devised, such as getting the message out that we still very much need to expand our terrestrial infrastructure.

11:10:01 From  Ben Winchester  to  Everyone: Yes Jay that is my primary concern.

11:11:33 From  Jim Yount  to  Everyone: Deciders, funders, community advocates, voters, etc. need to understand both the potential and limitations of Starlink.

11:34:34 From  Anne Brataas  to  Everyone: Just a note on Starlink science and tech: I’m a professional science writer and happen to be writing for NASA now, and what jumps out over and over to me is the lightly-regulated satellite scene and competition for slots by international players. This is immensely relevant to Starlink’s ability to deliver broadband sustainably. Needs to discussed.

11:54:29 From  Scott Cole-Collectivity  to  Everyone: The projected Starlink latency will be down to 10ms in the full (post-beta) deployment


Info on Speakers…

Minnesota Broadband: Land of Ten Thousand Connectivity Solutions

Minnesota communities have found an array of creative, practical solutions to expanding fast, reliable, affordable, and locally accountable broadband access to tens of thousands of homes all across the state over the last decade. In this report, we revisit networks, cities, counties, and small Internet Service Providers to see how they’ve met and overcome challenges in an arena more friendly to the out-of-state monopoly providers. We’re excited to talk about how evidence from around the state shows that citizens looking for better Internet access aren’t limited to just one or two paths to success, and share those stories of local persistence, clear vision, and creative execution.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken, Senior Researcher, Community Broadband Networks initiative, Institute for Local Self-Reliance (Mankato, MN). Ry writes about community networks of all shapes and sizes, in addition to undertaking long-term research projects on the benefits of broadband infrastructure investment to competition, telehealth interventions, economic development, community savings, and local resiliency. He has a PhD in American History from Oklahoma State University, with research emphases in the history of science, technology, and medicine. He tweets @galtonsbox.

Workforce Movers in Rural Minnesota

In 2019 the University of Minnesota conducted a study of newcomers to 20 rural counties across Minnesota. Hear about qualities of these newcomers and how communities have changed due to their migration with a focus on broadband satisfaction and telecommuting. This session will also advance a discussion about broadband as economic development in rural communities by differentiating between download consumption and upload production.

Benjamin Winchester, Rural Sociology Educator, University of Minnesota Extension.
Ben has been working both in and for small towns across the Midwest for over 25 years. He lives in St. Cloud, Minnesota with his wife and two children. Ben is trained as a Rural Sociologist and works as a Senior Research Fellow for the University of Minnesota Extension, Center for Community Vitality. He conducts applied research on economic, social, and demographic topics surrounding a theme of “rewriting the rural narrative” that are vital to rural America. He received the Rural Renewal Research Prize in 2021 for this work.

Surveys, Data and Stories to Inform Policy and Investment

Ann Treacy and Ben Winchester look into two reports based on surveys from communities in East Central MN working with Blandin Foundation through it’s Community Broadband Resources: Accelerate! program to improve broadband.

Ann Treacy, Treacy Information Services
Ann authors and manages the Blandin on Broadband blog. She has worked on broadband issues since 1994 – both supporting deployment of broadband and helping people and businesses better use broadband through digital inclusion training and online marketing consulting. Ann has a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science as well as a Master’s in Literature. You can learn more at www.byteoftheweek.com.

Partnership for ConnectedMN: A Community-Responsive, Public-Private Partnership

Partnership for ConnectedMN was established in May 2020 to address digital inequities surfacing in the height of the pandemic for K – 12 students. To date, ConnectedMN has provided almost $7M in grants to organizations providing devices, internet connectivity and digital support to  Minnesota students. The partnership has also established and continued to build a learning community for community leaders working in this area, culminating in a virtual roundtable with over 180 attendees in July 2021. Anne and Hussein will share how the partnership was established and focus on how the group continually adapted to provide community-informed relief and support for Minnesota students over the last year and a half.

Anne Hoyt Taff, Associate Vice President of Community Impact, Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation
Anne has worked at the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation since 2016. As associate vice president of community impact, Anne works to build community capacity through philanthropic and community initiatives that address a wide range of issues facing Minnesota. Anne is a facilitator and advocate, energized by building networks to respond to community need. Anne is grateful for the company and entertainment provided by her husband, a teacher in St. Paul, and two young children.

Hussein Farah, Founder and Executive Director, New Visions Foundation, St. Paul, MN
Hussein is the Founder and Executive Director of the New Vision Foundation, a nonprofit organization that engages, motivates, and inspires disadvantaged youth through coding and digital literacy classes. A social entrepreneur and a strategic business developer, Farah has extensive experience leading local, national and global efforts to create community-centered, asset-based solutions that advance community economic development and social justice. He co-founded the African Development Center, a nonprofit that provides guidance and financial success to African immigrants in Minnesota, and has received a number of local, national and international awards recognizing his vision, leadership and community contributions.  Farah is passionate about increasing the participation of minority communities in the high-tech industry as a means of solving racial income disparities in Minnesota. He is a 2018 Bush Fellow at the Bush Foundation, and a 2017/2018 Public Policy Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Moderator:

Bernadine Joselyn has served as director of Blandin Foundation’s Public Policy and Engagement program since 2001. Here she leads efforts to facilitate the building of knowledge and catalyze community action around issues and opportunities that align with the Foundation’s mission of strengthening rural Minnesota communities, especially the Grand Rapids area.

Beginning in 2003 she has led the foundation’s broadband programming in rural communities across the state. She represents rural communities on the Governor’s Broadband Task Force.

A native of Minnesota, Bernadine has a master’s degree in international affairs and a certificate in advanced Soviet studies from Columbia University. Bernadine spent the first 15 years of her professional life in Soviet (and then post-Soviet) Affairs. She served seven years as diplomat with the U.S. Department of State, where —  after an initial tour in New Delhi, India — she was assigned to Moscow, Russia, and Washington, D.C., focused on the U.S.-Soviet/Russian relationship. After the collapse of the Soviet Union Bernadine left the diplomatic corps to work on international academic and cultural exchange programs with the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) and subsequently the Eurasia Foundation, where she oversaw a $5 million annual grant program.

In 2000 Bernadine returned to Minnesota to complete a second master’s degree in public policy at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute.

2021 MN Broadband Day Two: Welcome from Chris Mitchell at Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Starting the day with some inspiration from Chris Mitchell at Institute for Local Self-Reliance


Chat from the session:

Coffee and Conversation

08:34:57 From  Mary Magnuson (she/her)  to  Everyone: The chat log is part of the conference archive on the blog: https://blandinonbroadband.org/category/blandin-broadband-summit-2021/

08:41:11 From  Mary Magnuson (she/her)  to  Everyone: If you attended the conference yesterday, fill out this two question evaluation (if you haven’t already.) https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DWR9L9R

08:45:40 From  Mary DeVany  to  Everyone: Snow in South Dakota today… 😉

08:49:50 From  Christopher Mitchell  to  Everyone: I think Portugal is the most vaccinated country in the world

08:54:25 From  Ben Winchester  to  Everyone: https://www.amazon.com/Anti-Intellectualism-American-Life-Richard-Hofstadter/dp/0394703170

08:55:10 From  Christopher Mitchell  to  Everyone: Americans who are descended by Europeans were not a random sampling – we are the descended from the outcasts and adventurers willing to take a chance to leave … or who were cast out.

08:56:23 From  Bernadine Joselyn (she/her)  to  Everyone: Christopher: yes, AND/BUT DNA itself gets washed out after 10 generations….

08:57:05 From  Christopher Mitchell  to  Everyone: Sure – we are what – 4 or 5 generations from when most Europeans arrived? Not 10 I’m guessing…

09:14:32 From  Bill Coleman  to  Everyone: Thanks for the kind words Christopher!

09:15:42 From  Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (ILSR)  to  Everyone: https://muninetworks.org/broadbandbits

09:16:12 From  Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (ILSR)  to  Everyone: https://connectthisshow.com/

09:16:22 From  Ann Treacy  to  Everyone: Chris’ podcast is educational and fun – I often find myself listening for long than intended.

09:39:15 From  Mary Magnuson (she/her)  to  Everyone:

Here’s ILSR’s report: https://muninetworks.org/reports/minnesota-broadband-land-of-ten-thousand-connectivity-solutions

09:44:57 From  Mary Magnuson (she/her)  to  Everyone: Ry is right – this report (and two we are talking about a little later in this session) is linked from the agenda https://blandinfoundation.org/programs/broadband/annual-conference-2021/wednesday-october-13/ You’ll also be able to find them in the Blandin on Broadband blog conference archive later today.

09:45:36 From  Bernadine Joselyn (she/her)  to  Everyone: I think that’s the main message: it takes work!


Christopher Mitchell, Director, Community Broadband Networks initiative, Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Christopher Mitchell is a leading national expert on community networks and Internet access. On a day-to-day basis, Mitchell runs MuniNetworks.org, the comprehensive online clearinghouse of information about local government policies to improve Internet access. He hosts the Community Broadband Bits podcast as well as the live Connect This! Show, which airs on YouTube and Facebook. He was honored as one of the 2012 Top 25 in Public Sector Technology by Government Technology, which honors the top “Doers, Drivers, and Dreamers” in the nation each year. Mitchell earned a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Macalester College. He is also a professional sports photographer, shooting regularly for the University of Minnesota’s Golden Gophers and other clients in Minnesota.

Bernadine Joselyn has served as director of Blandin Foundation’s Public Policy and Engagement program since 2001. Here she leads efforts to facilitate the building of knowledge and catalyze community action around issues and opportunities that align with the Foundation’s mission of strengthening rural Minnesota communities, especially the Grand Rapids area.

Beginning in 2003 she has led the foundation’s broadband programming in rural communities across the state. She represents rural communities on the Governor’s Broadband Task Force.

A native of Minnesota, Bernadine has a master’s degree in international affairs and a certificate in advanced Soviet studies from Columbia University. Bernadine spent the first 15 years of her professional life in Soviet (and then post-Soviet) Affairs. She served seven years as diplomat with the U.S. Department of State, where —  after an initial tour in New Delhi, India — she was assigned to Moscow, Russia, and Washington, D.C., focused on the U.S.-Soviet/Russian relationship. After the collapse of the Soviet Union Bernadine left the diplomatic corps to work on international academic and cultural exchange programs with the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) and subsequently the Eurasia Foundation, where she oversaw a $5 million annual grant program.

In 2000 Bernadine returned to Minnesota to complete a second master’s degree in public policy at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute.

2021 MN Broadband Day One: Update on the American Rescue Plan Act’s Capital Projects Fund

A timely and practical presentation on federal funding from Diane Wells at the Office of Broadband Development…

Chat from Session:

11:49:25 From  Brenda Johnson SEMLM  to  Everyone:

Melinda, per year, there are more like 100K+ just on that one trail. On the numerous trails throughout SE MN, the numbers would be more in the range you see in NW. Thank you for stressing this so it will be duly noted. It’s often the small communities that are working so hard to address this, and it can be a daunting task.

12:01:23 From  Yvonne Cariveau  to  Everyone:

Diane is a spectacular resource to all of us.

12:01:56 From  Brenda Johnson SEMLM  to  Everyone:

Diane rocks! Thank you, Diane!


Diane Wells has over 34 years of experience working with telecommunications and broadband issues for the State of Minnesota. She joined the Office of Broadband Development at the MN Department of Employment and Economic Development at its inception in 2013. Prior to joining the Office, Ms. Wells managed the telecommunications division at the MN Department of Commerce for eight years and served on the telecommunications staff of the MN Public Utilities Commission for 17 years. Ms. Wells received her undergraduate degree from St. Cloud State University and her M.P.A. from the University of Texas in Austin.

2021 MN Broadband Day One: What? Regional Gatherings Report Out: What are our greatest opportunities for improving broadband access and adoption in rural Minnesota?

What? Regional Gatherings Report Out: What are our greatest opportunities for improving broadband access and adoption in rural Minnesota?
Rural leaders from all corners of Minnesota will offer snapshots of their region’s broadband successes and opportunities, drawing on input heard at eight regional broadband gatherings held across the state in September and October.


Chat from the session:

Regional Gatherings

11:04:28 From  Mary Magnuson (she/her)  to  Everyone:

We’ve listed the speakers on our website here https://blandinfoundation.org/programs/broadband/annual-conference-2021/tuesday-october-12/

11:05:04 From  Joe Buttweiler – CTC  to  Everyone:

re: prevailing wage….Contractors don’t like prevailing wage projects because they need to pay different wages on a different projects and it creates employee cultural challenges for them. The administrative work associated with prevailing wage is incredibly costly for contractors and the providers. If we could remove those barriers somehow……

11:05:47 From  Misty Hendrickson  to  Everyone:

I agree, Joe! It just complicates things unnecessarily.

11:08:56 From  Dawn Hegland  to  Everyone:

If we want to use  state and federal funds  I don’t believe it would ever be possible to NOT use state or federal wage rates. I think the bigger issue is the BIG differences between using state prevailing wages and federal  wage standards from county to county.

11:11:36 From  Ann Treacy  to  Everyone:

East Central MN Regional Broadband Conference: video and notes https://blandinonbroadband.org/2021/10/08/east-central-mn-regional-broadband-conference-video-and-notes/

11:11:59 From  Ann Treacy  to  Everyone:

NW Regional Broadband Gathering Notes https://blandinonbroadband.org/2021/10/04/nw-regional-broadband-gathering-notes/  – just got video will add asap

11:12:14 From  Ann Treacy  to  Everyone:

Enhancing Our Regional Broadband Capacity: 7W MN Regional broadband (Benton, Sherburne, Stearns and Wright counties) https://blandinonbroadband.org/2021/09/27/enhancing-our-regional-broadband-capacity-7w-mn-regional-broadband-benton-sherburne-stearns-and-wright-counties/

11:12:47 From  Ann Treacy  to  Everyone:

Northeast Minnesota Regional Broadband Summit Notes and Video https://blandinonbroadband.org/2021/09/22/northeast-minnesota-regional-broadband-summit-notes-and-video/

11:13:06 From  Ann Treacy  to  Everyone:

South Central & Southeast Regional Broadband Conference Notes & Video https://blandinonbroadband.org/2021/09/16/south-central-southeast-regional-broadband-conference-notes-video/

11:16:53 From  Ann Treacy  to  Everyone:

Link to county profiles that went out on MOnday: https://blandinonbroadband.org/2021mnbroadband/

11:20:12 From  Mary Magnuson (she/her)  to  Everyone:

Lezlie mentioned the group that went through our Community Broadband Resources: Accelerate! program – all in east central https://blandinfoundation.org/programs/broadband/community-broadband-resources-accelerate/

11:22:43 From  Melinda Miller  to  Everyone:

Interesting to express the need for service in a city with 60 people.  Expressing the mobility of people.  How many people pass through on that bike trail in a year?

11:23:27 From  Ann Treacy  to  Everyone:

another, probably easier link to Regional meeting notes (at bottom of page) https://blandinfoundation.org/programs/broadband/annual-conference-2021/#regional-gatherings

11:28:49 From  Brenda Johnson SEMLM  to  Everyone:

Melinda, thousands of people use the bike trail in that area every year. You are correct to bring up that point. It’s important to note.

11:42:35 From  Melinda Miller  to  Everyone:

We heard about the number of people who visit Lake of the Woods every year in NWRDC.  I heard 2.7 million visitors to Lake of the Woods.  That is a lot of people who may need to call 911.

11:49:25 From  Brenda Johnson SEMLM  to  Everyone:

Melinda, per year, there are more like 100K+ just on that one trail. On the numerous trails throughout SE MN, the numbers would be more in the range you see in NW. Thank you for stressing this so it will be duly noted. It’s often the small communities that are working so hard to address this, and it can be a daunting task.

12:01:23 From  Yvonne Cariveau  to  Everyone:

Diane is a spectacular resource to all of us.

12:01:56 From  Brenda Johnson SEMLM  to  Everyone:

Diane rocks! Thank you, Diane!

2021 MN Broadband Day One: Digital Showcase: Closing the Opportunity Gap

A series of fast-moving presentations and demos by people from around the state and beyond who are using technology and the internet in innovative ways to improve lives and increase opportunity for all. Show, tell, and discussion. Moderated by Ann Treacy, Treacy Information Services

  • Fostering Productive Conversations – Kendra Jo Grindle, Island Institute, Rockland, ME
  • Overcoming Broadband Gaps in Rural Minnesota Communities – Edward Hilbrich, Libraries Without Borders, Washington DC
  • Sustainably Sourcing Digital Literacy Skill Services – Joe Miller, Literacy Minnesota, St. Paul, MN
  • Region Nine Tele Mental Health Portal – Kristian Braekkan and Alejandra Bejarano, Region Nine Development Commission, Mankato, MN
  • Smart Cities and Streaming Television – Abraham Levine, Brainware Partners, Minneapolis, MN

(I will add more presentations as I get them.)

Presentation by Libraries without Borders.

Resources from Joe Miller.


Chat from the session:

Digital Showcase

Island Inst:

09:41:05 From  Bernadine Joselyn (she/her)  to  Everyone:

Island Institute in the state of Maine!

09:44:38 From  Sarah Swedburg (she/her)  to  Everyone:

Will slides be available on the conference website?

09:45:37 From  Mary Magnuson (she/her)  to  Everyone:

Yes, to the Blandin on Broadband blog first https://blandinonbroadband.org/ and then I’ll add links to the conference website.

09:46:08 From  Anne Brataas  to  Everyone:

Excellent, thank you!

Literacy MN:

10:03:19 From  Joe Miller  to  Everyone:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1H3itVC8-OGL6ebT5r8xrb6klKq3l6aa-83bVLnZtqc0/edit?usp=sharing

10:04:23 From  Joe Miller  to  Everyone:

Can you please share in the chat: (i) what is a digital literacy skill that you have learned since March 2020, and (ii) what is a computer skill that is important for participation in public/private life?

10:04:33 From  Edward Hilbrich  to  Everyone:

https://www.librarieswithoutborders.us/manufactured-housing-initiative/

10:04:44 From  Yvonne Cariveau  to  Everyone:

How to create videos for others explaining things.

10:04:49 From  Bernadine Joselyn (she/her)  to  Everyone:

I’ve learned how to share a screen on zoom.

10:04:54 From  Michelle Marotzke  to  Everyone:

Ways to use Zoom

10:04:58 From  Eric Day  to  Everyone:

Zoom basics

10:05:07 From  Becky Lourey  to  Everyone:

I rely on my IT people as I struggle to become efficient

10:05:09 From  Ida Rukavina  to  Everyone:

how to run a Zoom meeting- I hadn’t prior

10:05:11 From  Jay Trusty  to  Everyone:

How to use MS Teams to collaborate

10:05:11 From  Chris Stark, UW  to  Everyone:

(1) ZOOM    (2) filling out a job application

10:05:13 From  Dawn Hegland  to  Everyone:

I have learned how to use more and more ways to connect digitally and share and collaboratively work on documents

10:05:22 From  Sarah Swedburg (she/her)  to  Everyone:

Navigating short surveys for community participation

10:05:24 From  Amanda Othoudt, Benton Economic Partnership (7W)  to  Everyone:

How to utilize MS Teams/Zoom

10:05:27 From  Jason Walkowiak  to  Everyone:

How to work like we have never have before

10:05:31 From  Brenda Johnson SEMLM  to  Everyone:

online meeting facilitation

10:05:33 From  Ann Treacy  to  Everyone:

edit vodcast – new skill

10:05:42 From  Ann Treacy  to  Everyone:

zoom – essential wok skills

10:05:48 From  Carter Grupp  to  Everyone:

Teaching my mom how to export pdfs and change file types/formats

10:05:48 From  Brenda Nyberg  to  Everyone:

Electronic Signatures

10:05:48 From  Timothy Furr  to  Everyone:

Online interviews

10:05:49 From  Anne Brataas  to  Everyone:

Research local alternatives to Facebook

10:05:52 From  Jami Trenam – Great River Regional Library  to  Everyone:

  1. how to lead teams/meetings through zoom 2. essential skill for all: using email

10:06:12 From  Brian Frederick  to  Everyone:

Remote support with remote sharing.

10:06:21 From  Ida Rukavina  to  Everyone:

Agree Anne!

10:12:45 From  Becky Lourey  to  Everyone:

I have also learned that remote work for my employees has enhanced their life-work balance.  Also, employees now recommend talented people they know to apply for jobs because they can also work remotely.  I had always wanted us together in the building.  Now, we are using broadband to keep us together.  All this influenced by Covid and requiring great Broadband

10:13:00 From  Joe Miller  to  Everyone:

jmiller@literacymn.org

10:13:50 From  Hannah Buckland  to  Everyone:

Great to hear the shoutouts to State Library Services this morning! When you find yourself thinking, “If only Jen Nelson didn’t flee to New Jersey,” please know that you can always reach out to me with your library-related digital inclusion thoughts, questions, schemes, etc. I’m still here at hannah.buckland@state.mn.us 🙂

10:14:27 From  Scott Cole-Collectivity  to  Everyone:

Thanks Hannah!

10:15:45 From  Ann Treacy  to  Everyone:

Digital showcase bios: https://blandinfoundation.org/articles/digital-showcase-closing-the-opportunity-gap/

10:45:29 From  Misty Hendrickson  to  Everyone:

Our problem in northern mn is not being able to get workers here due to the prevailing wage due to the mines.

Region Nine:

10:46:18 From  Yvonne Cariveau  to  Everyone:

Kristian and Alejandra talked about telemedicine for mental health and about a pilot that hit capacity very soon. Does improved access to broadband expand access to mental health providers? (Which may be the bigger capacity problem)

10:46:47 From  Scott Cole-Collectivity  to  Everyone:

Great question Yvonne…

10:50:09 From  Anne Brataas  to  Everyone:

Related question to alcohol and mental health issues: what are you finding the most effective support/intervention/rehab broadband promotes? As a joyfully sober recovering alcoholic for  33 years, the urgency of this data point in rural MN really speaks to me.

10:53:07 From  Yvonne Cariveau  to  Everyone:

We expand our pool of talent by expanding broadband – especially for rural folks in their 60s that may be nervous about covid exposure and have the option to not work or work from home (if they have broadband).

10:55:19 From  Misty Hendrickson  to  Everyone:

I don’t have a microphone. sorry

10:57:08 From  Misty Hendrickson  to  Everyone:

I meant we can’t get broadband copper to us because the installers won’t work here because all federal funding requires prevailing wage.

10:57:26 From  Becky Lourey  to  Everyone:

Ida, Amy said you have a new employer … where are you working ?

10:59:01 From  Michael Schumacher  to  Everyone:

That would be brilliant!  #WorkExperience

11:01:20 From  Mike Wimmer  to  Everyone:

I do not believe ARP funded projects need to follow Davis-Bacon. If you tap into the State grant program, I do believe Davis Bacon needs to be followed

11:02:32 From  Anne Brataas  to  Everyone:

To follow up on Misty’s and Ida’s points — and NOT bring wages down—is there a way to incent/compel contracts with high prevailing wages to be accepted?

11:04:19 From  Misty Hendrickson  to  Everyone:

Yes, we don’t want to bring wages down, just get installers.


More info on presenters:

Fostering Productive Conversations

Kendra Jo Grindle, Senior Community Development Officer, Island Institute, Rockland, ME
As Senior Community Development Officer, Kendra Jo serves as both the strategic lead and project lead for the Island Institute’s Broadband team as they work to achieve national average connectivity for all island and coastal communities in Maine, as well as the strategic lead for the Sea Level Rise team.

Kendra Jo is no stranger to the Island Institute’s mission. She first came to Maine, by way of her home state of West Virginia, as an Island Fellow on Islesboro in 2013. During her fellowship, she worked to connect island families to readily available resources on the mainland and revive the Social Services Liaison at the Islesboro Town Office. In the years since her fellowship, Kendra Jo worked for the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association as the Community Programs and Operations Manager. She holds a BA in Human Development & Family Studies with a concentration in Rural Families from the University of Connecticut.

Overcoming Broadband Gaps in Rural Minnesota Communities

Edward Hilbrich, Manufactured Housing Project Coordinator, Libraries Without Borders
Edward (he/his) believes that advocating for free, open access to resourceful information is a revolutionary act, which promotes public discourse, political engagement, and autonomous, collective decision-making. Edward has a rich and varied background as a Homeless Rights and Housing Advocate, a Union Organizer, and as an Independent Bookstore Owner. Edward is a NYC transplant working and living in the Twin Cities.

Sustainably Sourcing Digital Literacy Skill Services

Joe Miller is Project Manager – Digital Equity and Strategy at Literacy Minnesota. He is at the forefront of research and development at the nonprofit when digital equity intersects with the literacy cause, which has included management of projects in partnership with the AmeriCorps Emergency Response Initiative and the Minnesota Department of Education.  Prior to his current role, Joe taught English in North Minneapolis with Literacy Minnesota and North Sumatra, Indonesia with the Fulbright Program.  His undergraduate degree is in economics and political science from St. Olaf College, and he has previous professional experience in operations at a nonprofit in the Brainerd Lakes Area, Minnesota Hockey Camps.

Region Nine Tele Mental Health Portal

Region Nine Development Commission was awarded a Broadband grant from Blandin Foundation in 2019 to develop a tele-mental health portal in spring 2020 to serve diverse populations in southcentral Minnesota. Little did we know that the work would coincide with a global pandemic and a dramatic increase in the need for mental health services in an already high demand/low supply market. This presentation will discuss how tele-mental health services can augment existing services in rural areas, lessons learned, needs discovered, and ideas for future considerations.

Kristian Braekkan joined Region Nine in February 2018. His work relates to resource development, economic development, and industrial projects. Kristian completed his Ph.D. at Virginia Tech in 2010. His research on industrial relations spans a wide variety of contexts, such as steel, coal, health care, manufacturing, and service industries. He has presented and published his research domestically and internationally.

Alejandra Bejarano joined Region Nine in August of 2021 as an economic recovery planner. As a previous Region Nine intern and Fellow for the Lead for Minnesota fellowship program, she is enthusiastic about continuing to work with Region Nine in creating vibrant and resilient communities. Alejandra just graduated with an MPA from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Alejandra hails from Colombia and moved to the United States at a young age to play college tennis. Having a deep interest in research, Alejandra did her capstone project on corruption and institutional trust. She has diverse background experience in both the private and public sectors and is passionate about exploring new cultures, as she speaks multiple languages.

Smart Cities and Streaming Television

This session will describe the Community Technology Advisory Commission of St. Louis Park and it’s activities on its origin and activities in smart city applications and how we can aid cities looking at such technologies.  Also, the session will describe launch of City Streaming TV for hyper-local streaming channels for Community organizations, Faith-based organizations, public and entertainment, elected officials and candidates (election season only).  This generally free service does not require cable nor any governmental public access permission.  Ideal for smaller cities, local community chapters, businesses and entertainment, and a way for local officials to better communicate with constituents.

Abraham (Abe) Levine is CEO of Brainware Partners, a high technology consulting firm specializing in executive and technical services for telecommunications, and software, in addition to companies in the trucking industry.  He is also working with a major company in the streaming television industry and Chairman of the St. Louis Park, MN Community Technology Advisory Commission dealing with smart city applications.

A recent long-term engagement was at VisTracks where he, as Chief Operating Officer, developed their product strategy and channel sales for their tracking and later their Electronic Logging Device (ELD) business.  For the ELD, his 80+ reseller channel brought in sales to over 70,000 trucks in 18 months.  Mr. Levine also became well-known on Sirius/XM where he was interviewed several times and sponsored a call-in show about the complex US ELD rules.  In addition, Mr. Levine developed an overseas call center and worldwide ELD product support.

Prior to the VisTracks engagement, Abe was COO of a Wisconsin-based wireless carrier where he led a turnaround from monthly subscriber losses to significant monthly gains and managed over 600,000 IoT devices on his network. He has worked with over 30 telecommunications companies worldwide in various executive capacities in sales and professional services.  He also has worldwide experience in aerospace, automotive, government, and pharma.

Moderator

Ann Treacy, Treacy Information Services, authors and manages the Blandin on Broadband blog. She has worked on broadband issues since 1994 – both supporting deployment of broadband and helping people and businesses better use broadband through digital inclusion training and online marketing consulting. Ann has a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science as well as a Master’s in Literature. You can learn more at www.byteoftheweek.com.

 

2021 MN Broadband Day One: Welcome with Senator Amy Klobuchar

Very excited to have a welcome from Blandin Foundation’s Bernadine Joselyn and a ton setting from Senator Amy Klobuchar welcome us to day one of the conference: Building on Broadband Inspiring Progress:

Chat from the session:

Senator Klobuchar

09:21:56 From  Barbara Droher Kline  to  Everyone:

When will we hear on RDOF?

09:25:05 From  Michael Schumacher  to  Everyone:

Where I reside, “Rural” often applies to businesses and residential customers near the city center!

09:25:10 From  Marc Johnson  to  Everyone:

The FCC released more RDOF info last week. A few Minnesota projects were announced. https://blandinonbroadband.org/2021/10/08/more-rdof-grants-made-16406-locations-in-mn-no-word-on-ltd/

09:27:13 From  Anne Brataas  to  Everyone:

‹Yes, so true about Cook County—from Anne in Grand Marais! Thank you Senator and Joe! A question: is there $ to fund public education on civil, civic  best-practices broadband use? I work with young children, and worry worst-case practices, as outlined by Awesome Whistleblower Frances Haugen, may dominate.

09:27:14 From  Melinda Miller  to  Everyone:

In Emergency COmmuications, we talk urban, suburban, rural and wilderness.

09:28:10 From  Diane Wells, MN Office of Broadband Dev./DEED  to  Everyone:

Minnesota did a state Border to Border grant program that included Whalan so there is fiber there from AcenTek.

East Central MN Regional Broadband Conference: video and notes

Earlier this week broadband and community leaders from East Central MN met to talk about broadband. The event hosted by East Central Regional Development Commission in collaboration with regional County Economic Development Directors and the Initiative Foundation. Also supporting this conference is the Blandin Foundation and the MN Office of Broadband Development as part of the annual broadband conference, Building on Broadband: Inspiring Progress.

The event was a great conversation from folks around the community. As I’m preparing for the statewide conference next week, and the 87 county broadband profiles, which will post on Monday, I’m going to share my notes differently by sharing the video from ECRDC and my tweets from the day.

Overheard in @BlandinFound meeting: are you in an RDOF area in limbo? Go ahead and apply for state/fed money – if RDOF comes thru, we can pull those communities out of the project. But if it doesn’t, we can’t add it after the fact. @mndeed

Overheard in @BlandinFound meeting: if your community is having trouble finding a provider partner, contact us at Office of Broadband Development. https://mn.gov/deed/programs-services/broadband/… @mndeed

Overheard in @BlandinFound meeting: Kanabec County ranks last for #mnbroadband. But that is not for want of engagement, innovation, knowledge or will. Different counties have different barriers.

Overheard in @BlandinFound meeting: when it comes to communitywide Broadband access, it’s often better to be lucky than good. Lucky means having an engaged Broadband provider

Overheard in @BlandinFound meeting: as a student, it would be nice to do homework when I’m ready, not just when Broadband is up

Overheard in @BlandinFound meeting: through Accelerate, Blandin empowered us to learn more, make better decisions and act for better Broadband! @bcbroadband

Overheard in @BlandinFound meeting: Q: anyone still have dialup? A: yup

Overheard in @BlandinFound meeting: lots of people love remote healthcare. Much better than a 2-hour drive for 20 minutes with doctor. That’s a boon in summer and MN winter!

Overheard in @BlandinFound meeting: bad Broadband leads to hard choices. Do I stat at work and get my work done with Broadband? Or come home, have dinner with kids and sit in library parking lot after kid bedtime?

Overheard in @BlandinFound meeting: as we move forward with remote video for school and health care- we need better Broadband!! No more broken connections!

Overheard in @BlandinFound meeting: to keep employees communicating, happy and connected during the shut down, we did [zoom] happy hours

Overheard in @BlandinFound meeting: we had two weeks to move colleges classes online and graduate folks. Many teachers and students lacked adequate Broadband and/or a device #mnbroadband

Overheard in @BlandinFoundmeeting: remote healthcare relied on connectivity to homes of doctors and patients. We still do 1200 video visits a day

Overheard in @BlandinFound meeting: before pandemic our students thought GB ht Broadband was just mom’s phone … pivoting to schoolwork online was a tech and cultural shift

Overheard in @BlandinFound meeting: during the pandemic we focused on services we could provide remotely and that kept people in tribal community safe – esp elders who also needed company

Overheard in  @BlandinFound meeting: before the pandemic, we mostly went to the office, we dabbled in remote communication with partners and clients … but that all changed overnight