Webinar Feb 15: Leveraging National Data to Jumpstart Your Broadband Plan

Thought folks might be interested…

BroadbandUSA Practical Broadband Conversations

Topic: Leveraging National Data to Jumpstart Your Broadband Plan

Date: Wednesday, February 15 from 2:00-3:00 p.m., Eastern Time.

Overview: The U.S. Census Bureau, NTIA, and FCC collect and make publicly available data about Internet availability, subscriptions, and usage. This webinar will do a “deep dive” into federal datasets, including the FCC Form 477 filings from broadband providers that show broadband availability, speed and technology, and NTIA’s Digital Nation data, which represents the largest comprehensive national household survey on computer and Internet use. We’ll also highlight how the BroadbandUSA Connectivity Initiative will leverage this data as part of its online assessment tool. Hear from the experts, ask your questions, and learn how to access and use these datasets to help your broadband Internet needs assessment and planning efforts.


  • Steven Rosenberg, Chief Data Officer, Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal Communications Commission
  • Rafi Goldberg, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development, National Telecommunications and Information Administration
  • Robert Ballance, Presidential Innovation Fellow, Lead Architect, Connectivity Initiative Application


  • Karen Archer Perry, Senior Policy Analyst, BroadbandUSA
  • Emy Tseng, Senior Policy Analyst, BroadbandUSA


Pipestone County is looking at regional broadband options

According to the Pipestone County Star

Pipestone County Commissioners are considering working with Lincoln, Murray, Lyon, Yellow Medicine and Chippewa counties to find out what it would take to provide broadband service to under-served areas of the counties and gauge interest in the availability of such service. …

Pipestone County Commissioners are considering working with Lincoln, Murray, Lyon, Yellow Medicine and Chippewa counties to find out what it would take to provide broadband service to under-served areas of the counties and gauge interest in the availability of such service.

They are hoping that they can have the same success as Nobles County…

Nobles County is one nearby example of how a study and provision of service could be conducted and funded.

Tom Johnson, Nobles County administrator, said the Nobles Economic Opportunities Network (NEON), received a $25,000 Blandin grant to study broadband needs in the county. The county contributed another $25,000 to cover the 50 percent match requirement of the grant.

The study, conducted by Finley Engineering, estimated that it would cost $20 million to provide service to the under-served areas of the county using 100 percent fiber. It also found a strong desire for service and the likelihood of a high participation rate among rural residents .

Johnson said Frontier and the Lismore Telephone Company reviewed the study. Lismore used the information to develop a plan to provide service to the under-served areas using a fiber/wireless hybrid system that includes a fiber loop throughout the county and several towers. The company received a $2.94 million Minnesota Broadband Grant
and will contribute an equal amount to complete the roughly $6 million project.

Regional Broadband Study being discussed for Murray, Pipestone, Lincoln, Lyon, Yellow Medicine and Chippewa counties

According to the West Central Tribune

Concerned that rural areas of the county could be left behind, the Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners informally expressed interest this week in being part of a six-county broadband feasibility study. …

Finley Engineering of Slayton has offered to undertake a study to determine the feasibility of bringing broadband service to unserved rural areas in the six counties. The information will be developed for the individual counties, but by participating as a larger group, the costs for the study will be lower, according to information from Peg Heglund, Yellow Medicine County administrator.

Yellow Medicine and Chippewa counties are looking at joining Murray, Pipestone, Lincoln and Lyon counties in the study.

The counties do not know what the study will cost at this point. The commissioners will need to formally approve being part of the study once the cost is known. The county is also seeking a possible Blandin Foundation grant toward its cost, according to Antony.

The commissioners noted that some neighboring counties, including Lac qui Parle, Swift and Kandiyohi, have recently seen success in obtaining grant funds toward projects to bring broadband service to unserved rural areas.

The article include a comment from a Commissioner that I thought was particularly astute…

“If we drop this thing, guys, we’re going to be an island in 10 years and (people will) look back on this thing and say what were they doing?” said Commissioner Ron Antony during discussions at the board’s meeting Tuesday in Granite Falls.

Pope County working on broadband survey to measure broadband need and interest

According to the Pope County Tribune

Not everyone in Pope County has access to high-speed Internet, and county officials are working to improve that access and to provide faster speeds in all areas of the county.

The first step in that effort is to determine what areas of the county are lacking access and speed and what residents would like to see improved.  A Pope County Initiative group, headed by Information Technology Director Donna Martin, is currently working to improve Internet access for everyone in the area.  And, to measure the current level of interest in higher speed Internet access, the team is conducting a survey, which is being mailed to every household in the county.  The survey is  designed to get opinions on current and needed Internet access and seeks responses.

Residents have two ways to complete the survey.  They can fill out and return the mailed survey, which should be arriving at residences this week.  Or, residents can complete the survey online by going to http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/3155201/New-Survey.  The survey only takes a few minutes to complete, but Martin said she would like to get a high percentage of county residents to complete the survey.  “That’s why we are mailing it to every residence and business in Pope County,” she said.  Those who are mailing back the survey are asked to use the enclosed “dots” to seal two sides of the brochure and attach the postage also provided.  There is no cost to the resident to mail the survey back.

The results of the survey will help the county in its efforts to secure a grant that will help pay for a feasibility study, and, it is hoped, will ultimately result in state or federal funding to increase access and Internet speeds for the entire county.

Upcoming BroadbandUSA webinars: new tool on Jan 12 & progress report on Jan 18

Wanted to share info on these upcoming webinars…

BroadbandUSA Community Connectivity Webinar Series

Update, assessment detail, and sneak peek at online tool!
Date:               Thursday, January 12th
Time:              2:00-3:00 p.m., Eastern Time
Register:         https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/8438943433992339460
Overview: Participate in this month’s discussion about the BroadbandUSA Community Connectivity Initiative – a local planning tool that promotes broadband planning, action and progress.  The online tool includes twelve models that combine data, questions, responses, and resources to support local leaders explore key topics related to broadband availability, adoption and skills, and the community context that informs local efforts. In addition to providing an overview of the initiative and assessment, we will preview the online tool and discuss the 2017 timeline and delivery schedule.

BroadbandUSA Practical Broadband Conversations

The BroadbandUSA Monthly Webinar Series is now called  Practical Broadband Conversations
Topic:             Broadband Opportunity Council: Accomplishments and Outlook
Date:               Wednesday, January 18 from 2:00-3:00 p.m., Eastern Time.
Register:        https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/2578680599272392707
Overview:  Since the Broadband Opportunity Council was formed in March 2015, federal agencies have made great strides toward meeting the goals and fulfilling commitments to increase broadband deployment, competition and adoption through executive actions within the scope of existing programs, missions and budgets. Read the report here and join BroadbandUSA to learn about the progress made and what the future holds for this interagency working group.

Douglas Kinkoph, Assistant Administrator and Co-Chair, Broadband Opportunity Council Working Group, BroadbandUSA, NTIA, US Department of Commerce

Keith B. Adams, Assistant Administrator And Co-Chair, Broadband Opportunity Council Working Group, Telecommunications Program, Rural Utilities Service, US Department of Agriculture

Timothy A. Herwig, District Community Affairs Officer, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, US Department of Treasury

What’s the difference between bits and bytes? And how long does it take to download 190 GB?

Blandin just introduced six new communities to the Blandin Broadband Community program and we have a lot of new legislators leading the state next year. So it feels like a good time for some basic technology 101 posts – like the difference between bits and bytes.

Both are measurements of data. A byte is 8 times bigger than a bit. Both measurements are small – so in the practical world usually give measurements in Kilobit/byte, Megabit/byte, Gigabit/byte. So how much is that?

  • KB, MB, GB – A kilobyte (KB) is 1,024 bytes. A megabyte (MB) is 1,024 kilobytes. A gigabyte (GB) is 1,024 megabytes. A terabyte (TB) is 1,024 gigabytes.
  • kb, Mb, Gb – A kilobit (kb) is 1,024 bits. A megabit (Mb) is 1,024 kilobits. A gigabit (Gb) is 1,024 megabits. A terabit (Tb) is 1,024 gigabits.

Bits are generally used for describing interface speed and bytes for storage. For example we tend to know broadband speed in bits or Megabits per second (Mbps). We tend to know the size of something we want to upload or download in Megabytes (MB) – a song is roughly 3-4 MB.

So how long does it take to download that song? It depends on your connection speed – and a little extra math is required to take in consideration the bit/byte difference. Luckily a good friend who is a math and tech whiz – Mick Souder – has shared with me a spreadsheet that calculates time to download.

I just read a recent report by iGR Research saying that the average household consumes 190 gigabytes (GB) of data per month – so that’s what I want to measure. How long does it take to download (or upload) that amount of data?

  • With a 1 Mbps connection it will take 453 hours to transfer (almost 19 days)
  • With a 5 Mbps connection it will take 90.7 hours to transfer (3.8 days)
  • With a 10 Mbps connection it will take 45.3 hours to transfer (almost 2 days)
  • With a 20 Mbps connection it will take 22.6 hours to transfer (just under 1 day)
  • With a 100 Mbps connection it will take 4.5 hours to transfer
  • With a 1 Gig connection it will take 27 minutes to transfer

Notice I haven’t separated upload and download – because the rate is the same. When we download a song to listen – it’s 3 Megabytes (MB); when we upload it to share or sell it’s 3 Megabytes (MB). Minnesota has separate speed goals based on upload or download because most households download (buy, watch, consume) more than they upload (create or share). But wouldn’t it be fun to see Minnesota households create as much as we consume?!

Want to know more about bits and bytes? Here’s a fun video:




NTIA’s new community broadband toolkit: Using Partnerships to Power a Smart City

ntia-partners-4-stepsNTIA’s BroadbandUSA has just released a new resource, Using Partnerships to Power a Smart City:  A Toolkit for Local Communities. Here’s a description from the work itself…

This Toolkit is for government officials, urban planners, citizen groups, and others who want to implement successful smart cities projects.  Drawing from lessons learned, it provides a framework for getting the most out of public-private partnerships, including what to look for in a partner, assessing each partner’s contribution, and guidance on how to structure the most fruitful partnership agreements. The Appendices provide helpful checklists to use during the planning process. Our goal is to equip communities with the know-how to build long-lasting partnerships that contribute to vibrant and sustainable smart cities.

They go through four steps:

  1. Understanding Typical Partnership Structures
  2. Selecting the Right Partners
  3. Determining Each Partner’s Contribution
  4. Developing the Partnership Framework

It sounds like they are working on a series of tool kits. This one is good if you’re starting or at the beginning of a broadband partnership. It’s a nice framework for all partners to have.