This month I am traveling with the Blandin crew to visit various Iron Range Broadband Communities – communities that have been making a concerted effort to improve broadband access in their area. We rounded out our trip to day with the Grizzlies – aka the communities of Orr, Cook and Bois Forte Band.
Here’s the presentation:
Notes (these notes are rough because they mirror the PPT – I tried to add points of the conversation that might be helpful to other communities):
- A wide range but for the community and in the school.
- Classes went well. We were surprised at which ones really took off. QuickBooks, iPad/iPhone and Basic Windows were a popular classes. Less popular classes were: email accounts, buying and selling and computer protection. Other classes that didn’t work out well – social media, bring your device, web design and online employment opportunities.
How were classes advertised?
- Local papers
- Via social media
- Weekend training
- Provide 1 on 1 training for Quickbooks for business owners
- Have second training on hand for more than 5 attendees
- Incentive such as purchasing software for Quickbooks for business owners.
- Don’t schedule of football/volleyball…
- Advertise more effectively
- Never schedule a class on Thanksgiving
- You’re not going to make everyone happy
- Trainers were terrific
IN Library – WiFi hotspots in library – they have 5 with 24 checkouts. Mostly folks from townships are checking them out. People are amazed at the opportunity and how fast they are. They have questions about cost (there is none for patrons). There’s a 7-day checkout period and people have been pretty good about getting it back. The supply and demand are well matched now.
At Orr Center – Switches for internet connectivity, TV and rolling cart and 5 laptops.
- All new fiber was dropped from Cook to several areas (along highways) (used CAF 2 from CenturyLink)
- New fiber into the reservation – VBSL drops by summer. So anyone within miles of the highway will get DSL (speeds dependent on distance)
- They are building based on population density.
- T-mobile is installing equipment in towers (then going through NESC) – hope to be a cheaper options. Verizon is part of some conversations.
We should require broadband providers to look for existing fiber before they build out with public funding. A provider recently overbuilt a network using CAF 2 funding – if they had used existing infrastructure they could be offering FTTH instead of DSL to community members.
Cell access to shaky in Orr.
We might be looking at wifi on the buses in the future.