PCs for People distribute 53 computers in Rock County

Rock County Star Herald reports…

Rock County Library moved forward with its broadband education initiative by giving away computers.

Library director Calla Jarvie, along with members of the broadband education steering committee, unloaded 53 personal computers.

Distribution took place Tuesday, Jan 15, at the law enforcement center with extras being delivered to the library on Main Street Luverne where they are being stored.

Twenty-five families in the Luverne and Hills-Beaver Creek school districts received personal computer for home use.

“Nowadays so many things you have to do, you have to do online,” she said. …

The computer deliver from LCs for People was the first major event completed with the $75,000 grant.

Fun to hear about programs that puts computers in the hands that need them. Blandin Foundation is the source of the grant.

Le Sueur County moves forward with broadband plan – starting with feasibility support by Blandin Foundation

Le Sueur County News posts a letter to the editor from Barbara Dröher Kline…

Last year, while meeting residents of Minnesota House District 20A as a candidate, I heard numerous complaints about access to high speed broadband.

Also during the campaign, I attended a Region Nine Broadband Summit, learned where there are significant issues in each township as well as learning about solutions. I met with Dr. John King, my Le Sueur County commissioner, to discuss how to move ahead locally.

An expert from the Blandin Foundation presented at the May 15, 2018, Le Sueur County Board meeting, where the board unanimously approved applying for planning resources from Blandin. That application was approved. A group of county residents and county staff met with providers, took a survey, attended an intensive planning conference last fall.

As a result of these efforts, last December, the commissioners approved a contract for a professional feasibility study and we submitted another Blandin application for a $25,000 grant to support the study. On Jan. 29, the grant was approved! I am so proud of how many county residents stepped up to work in the planning process, the responsiveness of county staff and board, and the timeliness of this process. We are now poised to apply for state funding this fall. This IS rural economic development.

If you haven’t, we invite you to complete the survey of your home or business internet capabilities. Find the survey at www.lesueurcounty.org. Put your home and/or business on the planning map to help the consultants identify local needs.

Blandin Broadband eNews: Broadband activity throughout Minnesota Monthly Recap

Blandin Broadband eNews: Broadband activity throughout Minnesota Monthly Recap

On the Minnesota policy front…

And national policy front…

Vendor News…

Local Broadband News

Business in Ada is paying $800 per month for fiber https://wp.me/p3if7-4VE

Google plans to build a data center in Becker https://wp.me/p3if7-4Vr

There are IT Job openings in Cloquet MN https://wp.me/p3if7-4VG

International Falls
UnitedHealth Group transitions to remote workers in International Falls https://wp.me/p3if7-4Ut

Lake County
MN Watchdog takes on Lake County Network sale https://wp.me/p3if7-4UA

Lincoln County
Broadband expansion in Lincoln County is happening through Woodstock https://wp.me/p3if7-4Vn

Otter Tail County
Otter Tail County makes broadband expansion a main focus https://wp.me/p3if7-4W6

Region Five
Broadband expansion happening in rural areas of Region Five https://wp.me/p3if7-4VW

Red Wing
Red Wing Ignite Ag Tech Challenge hosts final pitch https://wp.me/p3if7-4V6

West Central MN
Meet MN Millennial Farmer, a voice for an industry and generation https://wp.me/p3if7-4VO

Upcoming Events & Opportunities

We are looking to add MN broadband-related events to the Blandin on Broadband blog calendar. https://wp.me/P3if7-4yG If you have an event you’d like to add please send it to atreacy@treacyinfo.com

Stirring the Pot – by Bill Coleman

Bernadine is fond of the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia classic quote: “Somebody has to do something and isn’t it pathetic that it has to be us?”  While this is true no matter where you live or work, I find it especially true in rural communities.  During meeting introductions as we ask attendees to list their community connections, we find that some folks have quite a long list of volunteer, leadership, and probably financial, commitments. These folks are true community champions and this is a strength for Greater Minnesota.

As for “us” having to do something, I am asking you to support the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition, the unified voice on rural broadband. The coalition provides that unified rural voice necessary to convince legislators to do the right thing for greater Minnesota broadband.  While in January and February, there are many public policy groups willing to speak up for broadband, we know that as the session winds down, organizational lobbyists narrow their focus to their own highest priority bills.  Funding this unified, full-time voice means raising money.  We believe that the coalition has been successful in its work to build a bipartisan consensus around the need to spur rural broadband deployment, but we cannot ever rest until that last gavel comes down in May.

We need you, our rural broadband champions to join the coalition and to recruit others in your community or industry segment as well. Prospective members range from school districts to banks to health care providers to chambers of commerce to cities and counties. We have members in each of these categories, so join your colleagues and peer organizations by becoming members.  Those local units of government and telecom providers who hope to apply for Border to Border Grant Funds should especially consider a commitment since investing in the coalition will improve the odds of a significant border to border broadband grant appropriation. Those contributing $500 or more earn a voice in how the coalition operates and in our policy platform.

We all know that fundraising can be a particularly pathetic task and our broadband coalition team is working hard on it, but we need your help to succeed!  A call to a personal or professional connection does wonders. We have raised about two-thirds of our goal, but need to raise an additional $20,000 before the session ends in May.

Check out the coalition website, our upcoming activities and the benefits of membership information at http://mnbroadbandcoalition.com.  Join us!

Thank you.

Blandin Broadband eNews: Broadband is gearing up for the Legislative session

How many Minnesotans lack broadband?
Microsoft recently unveiled an interactive map that compares FCC broadband maps to their own research on what their customers seem able to access. The FCC reports that 409,000 people lack access in Minnesota; Microsoft reports 3 million. https://wp.me/p3if7-4Ub

How does Minnesota rank?
Minnesota is top ten in State Technology & Science Index, but slipped to number eight. https://wp.me/p3if7-4Tv

Essential Aspects of Digital Readiness
Roberto Gallardo has a new research report Gauging Household Digital Readiness that found that metro households scored slightly higher than nonmetro counterparts on digital readiness. https://wp.me/p3if7-4Tl

Benefits of Broadband

On the Minnesota policy front…

And national policy front…

Local Broadband News

Blue Earth County
Blue Earth County Board talks about expanding broadband https://wp.me/p3if7-4ST

Mediacom extends fiber to Fountain (Fillmore County) with help from a MN State broadband grant https://wp.me/p3if7-4T1

Iowa is looking to catch up with MN with state Broadband grants https://wp.me/p3if7-4TB

Lake County
Lake County accepts $8.4M bid for Lake Connections from Pinpoint Holdings https://wp.me/p3if7-4TI
Community members have opinions on the sale of Lake Connections https://wp.me/p3if7-4T9

Arvig buys Windstream Fiber assets in Minnesota and Nebraska https://wp.me/p3if7-4Tp
Minnesota broadband is better than Wisconsin broadband https://wp.me/p3if7-4SC

The Timberjay posts an editorial of frustration written about the broadband providers’ lack of investment in last mile broadband. https://wp.me/p3if7-4SR

Red Lake County
The story of an online cricket order gone bad goes viral on Twitter https://wp.me/p3if7-4TV

Renville & Sibley Counties
RS Fiber is featured in an NBC report on rural broadband, fiber and 5G. https://wp.me/p3if7-4U3

Upcoming Events & Opportunities

We are looking to add MN broadband-related events to the Blandin on Broadband blog calendar. https://wp.me/P3if7-4yG If you have an event you’d like to add please send it to atreacy@treacyinfo.com

Stirring the Pot – by Bill Coleman

Spurring broadband investment in unserved rural communities requires a convergence of partnerships, financial incentives and leadership.  From my experience, leadership is the differentiating factor between those that get better broadband and those that continue to wait.

I have just finished reading the book “Leadership in Turbulent Times” by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  She profiles the leadership circumstances, strategies and successes of four presidents: Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. Setting the vision, gathering momentum, and coalition building are all integral to success.

While each of these presidents had their own unique style, they were all committed to their cause.  They were, respectively, devoted to ending slavery, busting trusts and monopoly corporate power, tackling massive economic dislocation and global warfare, or ensuring civil rights.  They realized that they could not accomplish these huge goals alone, but knew that executive leadership was essential to overcoming the many barriers to changing the status quo.

So, if you picture yourself a broadband leader, I encourage you to read this book and use the lessons within to plot your strategy to become the leader that your community is waiting for.  Or buy a few copies and distribute them to prospective co-leaders, then sit together and make a plan.  Remember, Blandin Foundation’s Community Broadband Resources Program is readily available to help jumpstart your community broadband team’s efforts.

Four MN communities launch into better broadband with the IRBC

A couple weeks ago, I shared the announcement of the four new IRBC (Iron Range Broadband Communities). They will be working with the Blandin Foundation broadband team to better use broadband locally to help build demand and build the communities. Today they met to launch the programs and I was on hand. The day is an introduction to the program – they will create a team, vision and plan over the next few months. That will culminate into grant proposals and they will spend 18 months deploying, assessing and iterating plans.

They also talk about what success of the program would mean to them. I was lucky enough to attend the session and record those goals. My favorite line (a little misquoted) is – our community is at a crossroad. We could be terrible or great. Broadband will make us great.

And one community was kind enough to meet for a follow up:

It will be fun to watch their projects progress.

Four Iron Range communities selected for Blandin Foundation Broadband Communities Program

Fun news to share…

Blandin Foundation announced today that it has selected four Iron Range entities for intensive, two-year partnerships with the Foundation to advance local broadband initiatives.

East Range Joint Powers Board, Iron Range Tourism Bureau, Laurentian Chamber of Commerce and Tower Economic Development Authority all were successful in their bids to become Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC).

Made possible with funding support from the Minnesota Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation (IRRR) and St. Louis County, this selection is unique in that all organizations are located in Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation’s northeastern Minnesota service area.

“We’re pleased that our agency can play a role in helping these northeastern Minnesota communities receive assistance in how to develop and use broadband,” said Commissioner Mark Phillips. “Developing high-speed broadband is critical to economic development, education, healthcare, and quality of life.”

“We are thankful for the leadership and support from Blandin Foundation and Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation, and are happy to partner in the Broadband Communities Program in St. Louis County,” said Barbara Hayden, St. Louis County Planning and Economic Development Director. “With so many rural areas in our county, there’s a great need for improved broadband options, certainly for our citizens, but also to boost economic development to attract and grow businesses.”

Communities were selected based on demonstrated commitment to work together across sectors to set and meet information technology goals and bridge digital divides.

Blandin Foundation staff and consultants will work with the four communities to provide planning, technical and financial support as diverse, local leadership teams design and drive digital technology initiatives that position their communities and every resident for greater success.

“High-speed Internet access – and the skills to use it – is fundamental to vibrant rural communities,” said Bernadine Joselyn, director of public policy and engagement at Blandin Foundation. “We’re excited to partner with Iron Range communities to imagine new possibilities that come with enhanced Internet access and use.”

This Iron Range cohort joins 36 rural Minnesota communities that have gone through the BBC program.

“Our experience tells us that, especially in broadband work, leadership matters,” said Dr. Kathy Annette, Blandin Foundation president and CEO. “To have commitment both at the local level and from IRRRB says something about the Iron Range. We look forward to standing with leaders in these four communities as they design and claim vibrant, connected futures.”

Next steps for each community include assessing the community’s current broadband access and use and, in early 2019, holding a series of public planning meetings.

Blandin Broadband eNews: Broadband activity throughout Minnesota Monthly Recap

Border to Border Broadband: Transforming Minnesota Oct 23-24
The broadband conference was a big hit. You can get video and notes on all of the sessions:

Office of Broadband Development Launches Speed Test
The Minnesota Office of Broadband Development launched a new tool that will allow Minnesotans to test, map and report various broadband internet speeds across the state. https://wp.me/p3if7-4QL

Broadband in the Elections

Local Broadband News

In October, the Blandin on Broadband blog posted broadband profiles for each county in Minnesota:

  1. Aitkin County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Kq
  2. Anoka County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Kt
  3. Becker County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Kw
  4. Beltrami County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Kz
  5. Benton County https://wp.me/p3if7-4KC
  6. Big Stone County https://wp.me/p3if7-4KF
  7. Blue Earth County https://wp.me/p3if7-4KI
  8. Brown County https://wp.me/p3if7-4KL
  9. Carlton County https://wp.me/p3if7-4KP
  10. Carver County https://wp.me/p3if7-4KS
  11. Cass County https://wp.me/p3if7-4KV
  12. Chippewa County https://wp.me/p3if7-4KY
  13. Chisago County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Ld
  14. Clay County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Lg
  15. Clearwater County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Lj
  16. Cook County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Lm
  17. Cottonwood County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Lp
  18. Crow Wing County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Ls
  19. Dakota County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Lv
  20. Dodge County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Ly
  21. Douglas County https://wp.me/p3if7-4LB
  22. Faribault County https://wp.me/p3if7-4LE
  23. Fillmore County https://wp.me/p3if7-4LH
  24. Freeborn County https://wp.me/p3if7-4LK
  25. Goodhue County https://wp.me/p3if7-4LN
  26. Grant County https://wp.me/p3if7-4LQ
  27. Hennepin County https://wp.me/p3if7-4LT
  28. Houston County https://wp.me/p3if7-4LW
  29. Hubbard County https://wp.me/p3if7-4LZ
  30. Isanti County https://wp.me/p3if7-4M5
  31. Itasca County https://wp.me/p3if7-4M8
  32. Jackson County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Mb
  33. Kanabec County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Me
  34. Kandiyohi County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Mh
  35. Kittson County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Mk
  36. Koochiching County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Mn
  37. Lac qui Parle County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Mq
  38. Lake County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Mt
  39. Lake of the Woods County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Mw
  40. Le Sueur County https://wp.me/p3if7-4MB
  41. Lincoln County https://wp.me/p3if7-4ME
  42. Lyon County https://wp.me/p3if7-4MH
  43. Mahnomen County https://wp.me/p3if7-4MK
  44. Marshall County https://wp.me/p3if7-4MN
  45. Martin County https://wp.me/p3if7-4MQ
  46. McLeod County https://wp.me/p3if7-4MT
  47. Meeker County https://wp.me/p3if7-4MW
  48. Mille Lacs County https://wp.me/p3if7-4MZ
  49. Morrison County https://wp.me/p3if7-4N2
  50. Mower County https://wp.me/p3if7-4N5
  51. Murray County https://wp.me/p3if7-4N8
  52. Nicollet County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Nb
  53. Nobles County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Ne
  54. Norman County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Nh
  55. Olmsted County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Nk
  56. Otter Tail County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Nn
  57. Pennington County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Nq
  58. Pine County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Nt
  59. Pipestone County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Nw
  60. Polk County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Nz
  61. Pope County https://wp.me/p3if7-4NC
  62. Ramsey County https://wp.me/p3if7-4NF
  63. Red Lake County https://wp.me/p3if7-4NI
  64. Redwood County https://wp.me/p3if7-4NL
  65. Renville County https://wp.me/p3if7-4NO
  66. Rice County https://wp.me/p3if7-4NR
  67. Rock County https://wp.me/p3if7-4NU
  68. Roseau County https://wp.me/p3if7-4NX
  69. Saint Louis County https://wp.me/p3if7-4O0
  70. Scott County https://wp.me/p3if7-4O3
  71. Sherburne County https://wp.me/p3if7-4O6
  72. Sibley County https://wp.me/p3if7-4O9
  73. Stearns County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Oc
  74. Steele County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Of
  75. Stevens County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Oi
  76. Swift County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Ol
  77. Todd County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Oo
  78. Traverse County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Or
  79. Wabasha County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Ou
  80. Wadena County https://wp.me/p3if7-4Ox
  81. Waseca County https://wp.me/p3if7-4OA
  82. Washington County https://wp.me/p3if7-4OD
  83. Watonwan County https://wp.me/p3if7-4OG
  84. Wilkin County https://wp.me/p3if7-4OJ
  85. Winona County https://wp.me/p3if7-4OM
  86. Wright County https://wp.me/p3if7-4OP
  87. Yellow Medicine County https://wp.me/p3if7-4OS

Upcoming Events & Opportunities

We are looking to add MN broadband-related events to the Blandin on Broadband blog calendar. https://wp.me/P3if7-4yG If you have an event you’d like to add please send it to atreacy@treacyinfo.com

Stirring the Pot – by Bill Coleman

Moving a community broadband initiative forward requires a mystical blend of community leadership and technical/financial knowledge meeting opportunity.  When I review the many successful broadband projects, I see that each project has a unique mix of these elements.  For me, community leadership is the most interesting facet.  Leadership can emerge from almost anywhere. My friend and former colleague Karl Samp used to say, “The great thing about being in a rural community leader is that you do not need a title, you just have to start doing things.”

Yet there is something essential about having elected officials strongly engaged in these broadband initiatives. Volunteers can gather and analyze information or put together an outline of a strategy or deal. Technical experts can define the best technology options.  But when it comes to actually making things happen, it usually takes a mayor, town supervisor or county commissioner to bring the legal and financial authority of the local government to the table. Convincing local officials to assume that role can be the most challenging task for the local broadband activists. For some leaders, hearing the broadband stories of woe is enough to convince them to act. Other leaders want hard facts  based on data to be convinced. Thankfully, there is a growing set of tools that can provide return on investment (ROI) data for community broadband initiatives.

At the recent Border to Border Broadband Conference, there were two examples of ROI analysis methodologies – one presented by Ann Treacy and Bernadine Joselyn and one created at Purdue University. Luckily, the former model is quite simple to calculate and easily understood. I encourage you to take a look at these session notes and complete the calculator found here.  https://wp.me/p3if7-4PR.  For those reading this with strong data skills, the Purdue model can be found here: https://wp.me/p3if7-4PL. Both models emphasize that the widespread community benefits to broadband investment far exceed the private sector business case for that investment, thus the need for public sector investment to deploy the necessary broadband investment.

For those pursuing improved broadband networks, please take a shot at using these tools with your broadband team.  I think that it will be enlightening for your group – both for the numbers created and possibly more importantly, the discussion that the analysis facilitates with local elected officials.  It would be great to hear your reports.