Blandin Webinar Archive Dec 14: Emerging trends in Minnesota Tele-Health

Thanks to those who joined. It was a great session…

The Online Health Care Experience

Listen and learn what is happening in three of Minnesota’s leading health care networks around the trend towards tele-health.  Care leaders from Essentia, Altru and Allina will discuss the importance of home tele-health care for the delivery of health care to rural communities and residents.  Learn about the importance of tele-health services to the vitality of rural health care providers.  Increase your understanding about the connection between good rural broadband and rural health care. Invite your own local health care providers to join us for this webinar.

More handouts from Allina Health


Blandin Broadband eNews: MN Broadband grants announced

DEED announces Border to Border grant recipients for 2017

Lt. Governor Tina Smith announces $26 Million grants for 39 Broadband Projects Across Greater Minnesota. The newest round of grants expands high-speed internet access to 9,973 households, 2,169 businesses, and 60 community institutions in Greater Minnesota. The new state grant funding will leverage an additional $34 million in private and local funding. They also released the challenges raised against the proposals.

Republicans celebrate Minnesota Broadband Grants
The Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus celebrates Republic support of the Minnesota Broadband grants with the following:

What’s happening with the FCC?

The hot topic of course is Net Neutrality. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai introduced his plan for reversing the net neutrality regulations on November 21; the FCC is scheduled to vote on Pai’s proposal on December 14. It’s interesting to look at several sides of the issue. (And to note that Senators Klobuchar, Franken and others ask the FCC to reconsider proposed changes.

But Net Neutrality isn’t the only issue. The FCC proposes changes to Lifeline that will impact users and potential users. They are also intervening in a court case in order to help Charter Communications avoid utility-style consumer protections related to its phone service in Minnesota. The FCC and Charter both want to avoid a precedent that could lead other states to impose stricter consumer protection rules on VoIP phone service offered by cable companies.

Local Broadband News

Aitkin County
Details on MN State Broadband Grant in Aitkin County

Balaton & Milroy
Details on MN State Broadband Grant in Balaton and Milroy

Paul Bunyan Communications wins international innovation award

Carlton County
Details on the MN Broadband Grant in Carlton County

Douglas County
Details on Minnesota Broadband grants in Douglas County

Ely reports on the 2017 MN Broadband conference

Main Street Gibbon is getting a 3D printing, made possible by FTTP

Goodhue County
Details on MN Broadband grant in Goodhue County

Hibbing & Chisholm
Hibbing and Chisholm public libraries add Internet resources for patrons

Itasca County
Itasca County’s view of the MN Broadband Conference

Itasca County, St. Louis County, and Hubbard County
Paul Bunyan awarded Minnesota Broadband Grant for portions of Itasca County, St. Louis County, and Hubbard County

Jackson County
Broadband makes the shortlist of topics Sen Klobuchar discusses in Jackson County

Kanabec County
CenturyLink expands internet access to parts of Kanabec County

Lake County
Lake County is required to pay broadband contractor remaining $2 million

AT& T plans to launch 5G in Minneapolis in time for Super Bowl

Nobles County
Better broadband expansion could mean economic boost in Nobles County

Pipestone County
Details on Minnesota Broadband grant in Pipestone County

Red Wing
US Ignite adds Red Wing Ignite to Smart Gigabit Communities Program

Resilient Region
Resilient Region’s take on the Minnesota Broadband Conference

St Louis County
Details on St Louis County MN Broadband Grant

St Louis County experiencing problems with Frontier Communications

Sunrise Township
The Humphrey School recognizes Sunrise Township for their innovative local government public-private broadband solution

Details on Wadena MN Broadband Grant

Upcoming Events & Opportunities

  • Nov 9 – Blandin Webinar Archive: Homework Gap: How Lack of Broadband Hinders K-12 Education
  • Dec 7 – MN Task Force Meeting
  • Dec 14 – Blandin Webinar: The Online Health Care Experience
  • Dec 15 application deadline for Smart City Readiness Challenge Grant
  • Jan 11 – Blandin Webinar: Tele-work, Telecommuting and Home-Based Businesses
  • Feb 10 – application deadline for 10-week summer program for underrepresented coding undergrads – with stipend- at NCSA

Looking for more events? Check out TechDotMN’s calendar Many events are based in the Twin Cities but it is a comprehensive list. (If you have an upcoming event, consider submitting it.)

Stirring the Pot

Ice fishing is one of my favorite winter recreation activities, but this year is proving problematic.  You can’t ice fish without ice and good ice is highly preferable to thin ice. We Minnesotans even have rules about ice – four inches to walk, 12 inches for a car.  All of my ice fishing preparation, experience and equipment is useless without ice.  It’s hard to plan for ice fishing with no ice and no one wants to fall through the ice and suffer possible deadly consequences.   If there was ice, I would make a reservation at a resort or possibly purchase a better fish house or sonar flasher that would make me a more productive ice angler.  This uncertainty is frustrating me and financially hurting the resort owner,  the sporting goods retailer and the many others that would like to sell me stuff and experiences.

Seems that those hoping for rural broadband deployment face a similar kind of uncertainty.  We have the broadband benchmarks for effective broadband use – 25 Mb/3 Mb by 2022, 100 Mb/20 Mb by 2026, with Gigabit as the endgame.  Those places without quality broadband are now walking on thin ice: opportunities are falling through; businesses are stagnant praying for walk-in customers; and community leaders hoping for a reasonable provider partner solution.

Here in Minnesota, we can confidently rely on our northern climate to eventually provide real winter weather, at most, maybe a week or two late.  For communities lacking quality broadband, there is no such reassurance.  Dedicated community leaders need to act like the great north wind and create the necessary environment for broadband deployment.  So if you want to start this conversation in a fish house or anywhere else in your community, apply for Community Broadband Resources assistance at I encourage you to get organized now to begin work early in the new year!

More on the MN Broadband Grant in Carlton County

According to the Pine Journal

Lt. Governor Tina Smith announced Tuesday that the county received Border to Border broadband infrastructure grant funds in the amount of $569,058 for phase I of a three-phase project in partnership with Frontier Communications. The grant money supports the expansion of affordable, reliable, high-speed internet to areas of Minnesota that are currently unserved or underserved.

In Carlton County, the grant focuses on the Cromwell and Kettle River communities. Plans include areas along Minnesota Highway 73 north and south of Cromwell, and west of Cromwell along Highway 210 and Rosicky Road. Areas northeast of Cromwell, at the junction of Krogh Road and Dahlman Road will be covered, and the Eagle Lake area southwest of Cromwell is also included.

Areas along Highway 73 north of Kettle River, west of Kettle River at the intersection of County Road 22 and Automba Road will be addressed, as well as the area at the intersection of County Road 6 and Metso Road.

Carlton County Economic Development Director Connie Christenson, who wrote the grant application and who will manage the grant, was ecstatic to hear the news, and quickly credited the county board members for their vision and support of their communities.

According to a 2016 Carlton County broadband feasibility study completed by Cooperative Network Services (CNS) and funded by the Blandin Foundation, Carlton County ranked 66th out of 87 counties in Minnesota whose residents have access to the state’s recommended 25 Megabit (Mb) download/3 Mb upload speeds.

Check out the Internet to bring home at Hibbing and Chisholm libraries

Fun news from the Hibbing Daily Tribune

The Hibbing and Chisholm public libraries recently broadened their capabilities offerings by adding Internet resources for patrons, thanks to a broadband grant [from the Blandin Foundation].

Hibbing Public Library received 20 wireless hot spots and a year of data for the devices this week through funds from the Blandin Foundation in cooperation with Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRRB), St. Louis County, Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce, Congressman Rick Nolan’s office and library staff.

The project has a value of nearly $10,000, according to a press release.

The goal is to close the digital divide on the Iron Range…

“The wireless hot spots are intended to decrease the digital divide in Hibbing between those who have access to Internet and those who do not,” said Lory Fedo, president of the Hibbing Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of the Hibbing Broadband Steering Committee.

She noted the devices will be available for checkout around Jan. 1, 2018, and can be used to access the internet anywhere Sprint wireless service is provided.

Putting mobile Internet devices into the hands of those who don’t have access has been identified as one of the community’s top technology priorities. This was determined through a process by the Hibbing Broadband Steering Committee and projects were created to address those priorities.

Hibbing hosts a technology fair for kids – opening tech doors to new career ideas

The Hibbing Daily Tribune reports on the recent Tech Fair at Hibbing Community College…

Geared toward high school students in grades 9-12, five area schools participated in the fair that focused on the ways IT interfaces with everyday life, what career options exist in IT, and the education pathways students can take to get to those careers.

“The goal of the Information Technology Fair is to inform and educate our future workers of the many technological career options that exist on the Iron Range,” said Jessie Matvey, HCC marketing/admissions representative.

Organized into four sections, students heard from guest speakers working in technology within their specific industry.

Molly Solberg of MAS Marketing led talks on Technology and Digital Media. A duo from Fairview Range tackled the topic of Healthcare and Technology. HCC instructors shed light on IT Networking and Security.

Maki and Pierce presented on Manufacturing and Technology.

It’s a great opportunity to introduce kids to jobs that they don’t necessarily see daily and didn’t learn about in younger grades when we were all ready about becoming teachers, police of bakers. They told the story of one of the presenters, which I think best describes the opportunity…

 Had Brandy Maki heard the term “engineering” while in high school, her career path may have been more direct than it has been.

“As a teenager, I didn’t have any kind of direction or support. I knew I was interested in math and programming, but there were not many options at my school,” she said. “I

don’t think I had ever heard of an engineer at that age. I didn’t know one even existed. So for these kids to know one what is and does at their age is a big thing.”

Today, Maki is a development engineer at Detroit Reman-DMR Electronics.

The Fair is part of a larger broadband effort…

The IT Fair was part of a larger, technology initiative that the Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce is leading to make the best use of information and services that high-speed internet can deliver.

Hibbing is one of the Blandin Foundation six Iron Range Broadband Communities (IRBC). Local leaders are working to identify top technology priorities and create projects to address them.

Blandin Webinar Archive: Homework Gap: How Lack of Broadband Hinders K-12 Education

Here are notes and video from yesterday’s webinar – Homework Gap: How Lack of Broadband Hinders K-12 Education…

Education processes are now infused with technology.  Many school districts benefit from Gigabit level services on-campus.  One-to-one device initiatives, flipped classrooms and virtual school snow days are now part of the educational lexicon.  This is all well and good until students head to their unconnected home.  How are schools coping with this inequality of educational opportunity and capability?  In some school districts, ubiquitous connectivity and affluent families make connectivity a slight challenge.  In poorly connected regions with high levels of poverty, schools face a significant challenge to cope with the digitally excluded.

Join us for a webinar roundtable discussion with regional school technology experts.  Marc Johnson of East Central Minnesota Educational Cable Cooperative and Josh Sumption from the Southwest/West Central Service Cooperative will discuss the present challenges, the current responses by education leaders and options for overcoming this broadband challenge.

Blandin Broadband eNews: Archive of the Broadband Conference Notes from the Task Force

2017 Border to Border Broadband Conference
The conference was a big success. Here are links to sessions from the event:

Minnesota Broadband Task Force finalizing their report
The MN Broadband Task Force met in November to tie up loose ends of the upcoming report. They talked about updating the projected cost to get broadband to everyone in Minnesota; with lots of caveats, they came up with a number of $5,527 per passing or a total of almost $1.4 billion to reach all of the unserved households.

They also met in October when discussion was on cybersecurity. They decided that the main tenet for their upcoming report would be to recommend continued support of the Office of Broadband Development and continued funding for grants.

CentruryLink News
CentutryLink’s acquisition of Level 3 on track. Also, the Court ordered CenturyLink to improve pricing transparency for customers.

Blandin releases report from 2015-2016
Blandin Foundation releases the Assessment of Blandin Community Broadband Program using the Mountain of Accountability Framework (2015-2016)

Political views from candidates, elected officials and others…

Local Broadband News

Benton, Morrison, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd and Wright Counties
Great River Regional Library (GRRL) provides library services in Benton, Morrison, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd and Wright Counties. Patron Internet use has seen a dramatic growth, from 134,000 patron Internet sessions in 2004 to 264,000 in 2009, a 97 percent increase.

Despite its proximity to the Cities, even parts of Burnsville can feel unserved to folks who don’t have enough broadband to do what they want to do online

Cook County
CoBank releases a case study of Cook County MN and their experience building a case, building partnerships, building broadband

Ely is doing a broadband feasibility; community input is requested

Kandiyohi County
Kandiyohi County gets fixed wireless broadband

In September, Fillmore County and AcenTek broke ground to mark the start of building a Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network in the rural town of Lanesboro, Minnesota.

Meeker County
In an effort to support local manufacturing, Meeker County is looking at improving broadband. Part of that process is asking residents for their input

Minnesota becomes 23rd state to ‘opt-in’ to FirstNet

Nobles County
$2.57 million in tax abatement bonds proposed for broadband in Nobles County

Resilient Region (Region 5)
Wadena Pioneer Journal provides an update on the multi-year, multi-million dollar project aimed at bringing high-speed internet access to all residents in Region 5.

Rochester looks at hat goes into a decision for municipal broadband

The Post Bulletin looks at how broadband helps remove obstructions to health care in Minnesota

Southwest Minnesota
AT&T brings a faster network to Southwest Minnesota

Upcoming Events & Opportunities

  • Nov 9 – Blandin Webinar: Homework Gap: How Lack of Broadband Hinders K-12 Education
  • Nov 22 – Nomination deadline for MN Excellence in Economic Development Awards
  • Dec 7 – MN Task Force Meeting
  • Dec 14 – Blandin Webinar: The Online Health Care Experience
  • Jan 11 – Blandin Webinar: Tele-work, Telecommuting and Home-Based Businesses

Looking for more events? Check out TechDotMN’s calendar Many events are based in the Twin Cities but it is a comprehensive list. (If you have an upcoming event, consider submitting it.)

Stirring the Pot

Thanks to all who attended the broadband conference.  I have been to many such conferences both here in Minnesota and elsewhere and I have to say that this was a very good event.  Those who could not attend can check out the videos and PowerPoints listed above.

We had a great mix of community and regional leaders and tech vendors, especially many providers seeking community partners.  Noticeably absent were some of our largest providers which was their loss.  Special thanks to all of our presenters – from the pre-conference sessions to the learning stations.

For years, my presentations to community leaders were future-oriented – that broadband would be a necessity.  That the future is now.  Roberto Gallardo provided great data linking broadband availability and adoption to population and economic growth and also the inverse.  Our Minnesota case study project, led by Ann Treacy and supported by the testimony of our case study participants, demonstrates that smart economic development strategies built on a base of great broadband is enabling a clear separation between thriving and struggling rural communities.  The huge opportunity cost paid by broadband starved communities is evident as they focus on better broadband rather than marketing, workforce development, innovation and tech adoption.

My advice to those communities with great broadband: continue to partner with your providers to spur community transformation.  For those still seeking better broadband: double your efforts on network deployment, but don’t forget adoption efforts.  As people and investment increasingly choose well-connected communities, it will be increasingly hard to catch up.