Map of MN broadband grant projects
Border to Border Broadband: Transforming Minnesota Oct 23-24
Join policymakers, economic and community development professionals and community broadband champions from across the state for this annual opportunity to learn, connect and engage. https://wp.me/p3if7-4D6
Funding Available from USDA
USDA is seeking applications for grants under the Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant program to provide technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups in rural areas. There is room for broadband-related projects. https://wp.me/p3if7-4D2
MN Broadband Task Force May Meeting
In May, the Task Force heard from experts on cyber security at the State, the Education Superhighways (including an update on e-rate and impact on Minnesota Schools) and a presentation on bitcoin and blockchain. https://wp.me/p3if7-4C0
Minnesota Legislature – actions and reactions
In the end, no funding was dedicated to broadband grants in the Legislature because the grants were part of a large supplemental budget bill that was vetoed. Below are articles related to that ongoing conversation in reverse chronological order
Federal Legislature – actions and notes
Local Broadband News
Lincoln County Broadband Feasibility Study finds wireless is more affordable but not permanent fix https://wp.me/p3if7-4AU
Murray County Broadband Feasibility Study finds fiber in stages may be possible over years, fixed wireless already available. https://wp.me/p3if7-4AK
Murray & Pipestone Counties
Starting with a feasibility study, moving to getting funding and deploying broadband is happening in communities in Murray and Pipestone Counties through various projects. https://wp.me/p3if7-4Cb
Telecompetitor posts a profile of Nobles County and their journey toward better broadband. https://wp.me/p3if7-4Br
Pickwick is getting online thanks to MN State Funds and HBC https://wp.me/p3if7-4D0
Pipestone County Broadband Feasibility Study finds that building broadband will require grants https://wp.me/p3if7-4AX
Healthcare facilities in Pipestone County need broadband for telehealth applications https://wp.me/p3if7-4Bx
Minnesota WiFi is bringing service to residential and business subscribers across six counties around Rochester. https://wp.me/p3if7-4C4
Saint Paul Public Library extends computer and wifi access to Giant Wash Coin Laundry https://wp.me/p3if7-4C6
Yellow Medicine County
Yellow Medicine County Broadband Feasibility Study finds wireless is a temporary solution, grants needed for fiber builds https://wp.me/p3if7-4AN
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 email@example.com
Stirring the Pot – by Bill Coleman
I hope that the screeching halt to the legislative session does not bring an equally painful pause to community efforts to improve Minnesota’s broadband progress. Those areas with quality broadband are moving fast ahead of the unconnected places. Economic developers forced to work on improving broadband are left at the starting gate while developers in connected communities are supporting creative entrepreneurs, transforming their workforce to meet tomorrow’s needs and creating a place in the global economy for their community.
The loss of $15 million to the Border to Border grant is a huge blow to the many rural places – counties, cities and townships – that have been organizing, strategizing and perfecting broadband implementation plans. The lack of state funding will put more onus on local resources to fill the gap the provider partners need to make their business case – whether their ROI hurdle is 36, 60 or 120 months. Communities will have to be smart in how they participate in these projects. If the funding balance swings too far to the public side, public ownership of networks will require serious consideration. Communities can then decide whether to partner with a single or with multiple operators to offer services over the public infrastructure. There are excellent working models for this framework around the country and elsewhere.
As the candidates at all levels, maybe most importantly at the local level, hit the campaign trail in the coming weeks, questions about their real commitment to rural broadband deployment need to be asked and answered. Be specific in your questions and demand specific answers and commitments. Many candidates will not know much about broadband besides that their prospective constituents want it and need it. Use the MN Rural Broadband Coalition website (mnbroadbandcoalition.com) to educate the candidates in your area.
Most of all, keep working on your broadband plans and keep developing relationships with prospective partners. There will likely be opportunities for which the prepared will be ready and the unprepared will miss out. Don’t miss out!