Expanding Rural Electric Member Coop broadband coverage in Indiana could mean benefits of $12 billion

Purdue University just released a report that looks at the quantitative benefits of investing in broadband – they look specifically at extending/expanding networks deployed by Indiana’s Rural Electric Member Cooperatives (REMCs) – but expanding the network ubiquitously across the state. Here’s what they found…

We estimate the net benefits of broadband investment for the whole state of Indiana is about $12 billion, which is about $1 billion per year annuitized over 20 years at six percent interest rate. Year after year, added government revenues and cost savings would amount to about 27 percent of net benefits in the seven REMCs each year. If the rest of rural Indiana is like these seven Cooperative service areas, then 27 percent of the $1 billion per year would be government revenue and health care cost savings, or $270 million per year. In terms of total net present value of benefits, 27 percent of $12 billion is $3.24 billion in added government revenue and health care cost savings.

It’s interesting to see that 27 percent of the net benefits would be government revenue and health care cost savings. That’s a number taxpayers can use to determine the return of public investment in broadband. Last fall, I looked at community return on public investment in broadband – which came to about $1,850 per household. Taking it a step farther, figuring out how much benefit is there in government revenue and health care savings make it even easier to balance cost with benefit.

Broadband and housing in Chisago County: broadband touches everything

I was just telling someone that broadband is the solution to almost any question. And today while I was reading the Comprehensive Housing Needs Analysis for Chisago County, Minnesota and I was reminder that it’s true.

The report projects housing demand from 2017 through 2030, and provides recommendations on the amount and type of housing that could be built in Chisago County to satisfy demand from current and future residents over the next decade. Lack of internet access was listed as a potential problem to attracting people….

Internet Access. Several interviewees mentioned the lack of broadband Internet and slow Internet speeds across parts of Chisago County. The lack of Internet connections could hinder housing development in the county as Internet access is critical for many households in today’s digital age. Many interviewees mentioned the desire to have a home based business or to be able to telecommute in Chisago County. Without high-speed reliable Internet, many will not consider moving to the county. Studies suggest high speed Internet connection to a home boost property values. We understand Chisago County recently received grant funds to analyze technology trends and to address the issue. Two townships in Chisago County have partnered with CenturyLink and MN Dept. of Employment and Eco-nomic Development Broadband Office to bring fiber to the home.

There’s also a note that lack of online marketing of housing options keeps some of the market closed to people form outside the area…

Point of Contact/Housing Resources/One Stop Shop. Several interviews stressed that housing options for rental housing are exceptionally low in Chisago County. Finding a rental housing unit can be difficult as there are few options to begin with and many buildings have high occupancy rates and are not necessarily marketing. Many of the rental properties throughout the county are smaller and are locally owned and managed and they are not actively marketing on the Internet or social media which is difficult for non-residents to find housing availability. Furthermore, many landlords mentioned there is not a lot of turnover as many tenants stay in the lease for years.

Dedicated Broadband for MN Responders is now available

Good news from the press release…

DEDICATED BROADBAND FOR MINNESOTA RESPONDERS NOW AVAILABLE
Approved Contract Will Provide Priority and Preemption in Emergencies

ST PAUL – Minnesota’s law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services personnel and sovereign nations now have the opportunity to sign up for the dedicated nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN), known as FirstNet. The State of Minnesota finalized the contract with FirstNet and AT&T. The pair has partnered to build and deploy the network at no cost to taxpayers for 25 years.

FirstNet’s dedicated public safety network, devices and apps will allow first responders to send and receive mission-critical information without experiencing delays. Minnesota first responders currently use wireless networks that can become overwhelmed or lack coverage in rural areas, especially during emergencies.

“FirstNet offers priority, preemption and reliability during emergencies like the Interstate 35 bridge collapse or the recent refinery explosion in Superior, Wisconsin,” said Emergency Communication Networks Director Dana Wahlberg. “Duluth responders provided mutual aid to the refinery explosion and experienced congestion on the wireless network during the incident.”

In October 2017, Gov. Mark Dayton signed the agreement after the Department of Public Safety’s Emergency Communication Networks (ECN) division partnered with public safety stakeholders to draft Minnesota’s State Plan. ECN is coordinating with FirstNet and AT&T as they begin to build and develop a quality network across the state.

“By opening up this avenue for Minnesota’s public safety agencies to adopt FirstNet service, the State is ensuring that lifesaving technology quickly gets into the hands of first responders to help them save lives and protect communities,” said First Responder Network Authority CEO Mike Poth. “FirstNet is the only wireless communications platform for emergency response built with the feedback and input of Minnesota’s public safety community and we look forward to our continued partnership with the State as we deploy public safety’s network.”

It is up to each individual public agency and sovereign nation to determine if they want to subscribe to FirstNet. ECN has provided an online workbook to help agencies with project planning and considerations such as coverage, capacity and cost.

What is FirstNet?

FirstNet was created by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 following a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. Its mission is to create a dedicated public safety interoperable, nationwide mobile broadband network to enable continued communication during a disaster, emergency or large-scale event. The State of Minnesota initiated the FirstNet Consultation Project in January 2014. For more information on FirstNet, visit: www.firstnet.gov.

[FACT SHEET] Learn more about how FirstNet will help Minnesota first responders.

NTIA is looking for FirstNet Board members – applications due May 21

From the NTIA site

NTIA issues this Notice on behalf of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to initiate the annual process to seek expressions of interest from individuals who would like to serve on the FirstNet Board. One of the 12 appointments of nonpermanent members to the FirstNet Board, expiring August 2019, is currently vacant. Additionally, four of the 12 appointments of nonpermanent members to the FirstNet Board expire in August 2018, creating a total of five available appointments to the FirstNet Board. NTIA issues this Notice to obtain expressions of interest in being selected by the Secretary to the FirstNet Board. Expressions of interest must be postmarked or electronically transmitted on or before May 21, 2018.

For further information please contact Marsha MacBride, Associate Administrator, Office of Public Safety Communications, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Room 4078, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-5802; email: mmacbride@ntia.doc.gov. Please direct media inquiries to NTIA’s Office of Public Affairs, (202) 482-7002.

FirstNet Brings Additional Coverage and Capacity to Minnesota to Support Public Safety Communications

Big news on the FirstNet front from AT&T in MInnesota…

FirstNet Band 14 Deployment Underway to Further Enhance Emergency Response Across the State

ST. CLOUD, Minn., April 17, 2018 – Additional coverage and capacity is coming to Minnesota’s first responders with the deployment of FirstNet’s public safety spectrum, called Band 14. This will help first responders across the state stay connected to the information they need when responding to emergencies, supporting large events or handling day-to-day operations.

FirstNet is the country’s first nationwide public safety communications platform dedicated to first responders when they need it. Built with AT&T*, in public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority, it gives first responders’ communications capabilities a much-needed technology upgrade.

Recognizing its value, Governor Mark Dayton opted in to the FirstNet state plan in October 2017 to bring Minnesota’s first responders a reliable, highly secure and “always-on” connection.

“FirstNet is dramatically enhancing police work across Minnesota by giving law enforcement access to the most advanced communications capabilities available today,” said First Responder Network Authority Board Member Richard Stanek, who has served as the Sheriff of Hennepin County since 2007. “It will also modernize communications used by fire, EMS and other public safety personnel. This will help all first responders maintain the safety of our neighborhoods and communities, so it’s exciting to see FirstNet’s progress continue with the deployment of Band 14.”

AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority recently announced the launch of the nationwide buildout of FirstNet using Band 14.

Band 14 is high-quality wireless spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet. It provides good propagation in urban and rural areas, penetrating buildings and walls easily and covering larger geographic areas with less infrastructure. Band 14 also enables high-power user equipment with the ability to radiate at levels 6 times that typically allowed on an LTE system. This means that, as Band 14 is deployed, we can extend the range of LTE coverage much further than it reaches today.

“FirstNet is bringing Minnesota’s public safety community the tools they need to help them respond to any emergency, anywhere,” said Paul Weirtz, president of AT&T Minnesota. “And the deployment of public safety’s spectrum is a big next step in the ongoing build of FirstNet, helping to connect our first responders across agencies, jurisdictions and even state lines, so they can stay safe and save lives.”

After Band 14 is deployed, when FirstNet subscribers are not using that spectrum to support their public safety needs, it can be used to improve service for all AT&T wireless customers across Minnesota. This means they’ll have access to even more coverage and capacity – when not in use by first responders – as Band 14 is built out across the state.

In addition to the FirstNet build, AT&T invested nearly $350 million in its Minnesota wireless and wired networks from 2014-2016. These investments boosted reliability, coverage, speed and overall performance for public safety as well as for Minnesotans and their businesses.

AT&T continued its investment in Minnesota in 2017. Expanding its network in the area has given AT&T the most wireless coverage in Minnesota, and AT&T plans to keep upgrading its network throughout 2018.

Since FirstNet service is an all-band solution – which means it can utilize AT&T’s LTE bands in addition to Band 14 – we’re well positioned to bring Minnesota’s public safety community the best network possible with the coverage and capacity they need to achieve their life-saving missions.

Network Resiliency and Security Playbook for local government

Someone shared this with me, I wanted to pass it on. It’s from November 2017 – it’s a Network Resiliency and Security Playbook written to help local and state governments adopt best practices for preventing significant communications infrastructure failures and stopping or mitigating intrusions, hacking, and other disruptions of communications networks.

Intended audience…

The target audiences for this Playbook include information technology (IT) leaders and staff—the government employees who are responsible for implementing, operating, and maintaining IT systems—and the users of those government networks, including first responders. Because these audiences have a range of IT knowledge and expertise, this document includes high-level introductory information and links to useful background resources, as well as detailed technical descriptions of best practices.

Why you need it…

This Playbook addresses some of the key reasons that local and state government entities need to routinely include security and resiliency in their infrastructure development processes:

  • Local governments are attractive targets for cyber threats because they are often easy targets—especially those that do not have sufficient security resources and expertise

  • Local government networks can also be attractive targets in their own right, given their maintenance of sensitive data such as tax and voter rolls, contracts, procurements, traffic data, public-run utilities, etc.

  • Smaller governments often experience difficulty funding and staffing critical IT functions; as a result, those local governments might delay updating systems and applications, or even patching known issues, due to worry about proper functioning of legacy systems and risk of unintended impacts

  • Poor or inadequate segmentation of government networks can lead to large impacts from modest intrusion efforts

  • Local governments’ networks are increasingly interconnected with other systems, including those of other local governments, federal agencies, and private sector partners

  • Ransomware attacks make any target attractive regardless of size or sensitivity of data

  • Storms, floods, and other natural threats are a constant concern for any network, but especially for mission-critical public safety and government communications networks

If you’re still reading this may be a great tool for you!

Women’s March MN promotes rural broadband in MN

Women’s March Minnesota recognizes the role ubiquitous broadband plays in equitable access to civic engagement…

The Women’s March Minnesota is committed to ensuring that the voices of women from all backgrounds and identities are heard. That includes the voices of the rural populations that lack affordable access to broadband technology.

The Women’s March movement has been lauded for their use of social media. The Washington Post said, “Taken collectively, the Women’s March on Washington and its many affiliated “sister” marches were perhaps the largest single demonstration of the power of social media to create a mobilization.” However, to participate fully in such online civic engagement, all people in Minnesota need access to broadband. (Broadband is also tool for economic developmenteducation, healthcare and quality of life.)

Rural areas do not have equitable access. Currently 73 percent of Minnesota households have access to speed goals for 2026 (100 Megabits per second down and 20 Mbps up), while only 57 percent of rural households have access to the same speeds.

The Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalitionfocuses on equitable access to broadband. They are asking the 2018 Legislature to fund the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program with $51.48 million to achieve the state’s 2026 broadband speed goal equitably throughout the state. Funding is required to encourage and support public-private partnerships to deploy better broadband in areas where it is otherwise not economically feasible.

The Coalition is asking supporters of rural broadband to contact their legislators in support of funding the Border-to-Border Broadband program, HF3527/SF2787. Tell them why you think equitable access to broadband is essential to everyone. The Coalition is also hosting a Day on the Hill on April 12.