USDA’s new rural broadband resources page – asks for feedback & directs to funding

The USDA has created a webpage on rural broadband. I thought it was going to be a collection of facts and statistics on broadband but it is potentially more compelling than that. It does provide a shortcut to the USDA funding sources:

It also points to BroadbandUSA, which has gotten quite a facelift since I last visited. They now list upcoming events, such as a webinar in September on wireless broadband options.

The new USDA site also asks for visitor feedback – from customers and broadband providers. Here are two sample questions:

  • For users: What time-of-day (morning, afternoon or evening) do rural residents and businesses most need to use high-speed internet?
  • For providers: Which types of broadband technologies are most applicable for various types of rural areas such as cable, fiber, mobile wireless, fixed wireless, and satellite?

They are also inviting comments through the Federal Register before September 10 on the Broadband e-Connectivity Pilot Program.

Great Community Opportunity for Community looking for Broadband!

UPDATE: the three communities have been chosen. Thank you!

Three rural communities will take a great leap forward in their knowledge of how to improve their broadband at the fall Border to Border Broadband Conference by taking part in a broadband planning exercise or charrette over the course of the conference.  Two of the three spots are already spoken for and we are seeking a third to fill our capacity.  Each team will go through a mini-feasibility study process assisted by their own nationally recognized planning consultant.  By the end of the conference, the community teams will have more knowledge of technology options, costs, finance, operating scenarios and partnerships.

We require a minimum of five community members to come to the conference and participate on the team.  Other conference attendees from other communities may join your team as interested participants.  Conference registration fees will be waived though communities are responsible for their own travel and lodging.  Communities will also be required to conduct a community survey in advance of the conference as a key input into the planning  process.  This will be a great opportunity for a community – from a single community to a county!

For more information, contact Bill Coleman, or 651-491-2551.

A tool for schools: Finding the Broadband Internet Service That Works for Your Family

My colleague Bill Coleman has created an awesome guide to help parents and students find the home Internet connection that best fits their needs, in terms of bandwidth and price. Actually, it was created with schools in mind. While the guide can be used ASIS, it’s really a template and the idea is that a school might help fill in the local blanks. For example, help list the providers in the area.

Now is a good time to share it. School is starting soon. All of us parents are starting to buy good shoes, get kids to go to bed early, do those things you need to do to make for a smooth first day. And for some families that may mean getting online or looking for an online upgrade. It’s also the time we’re getting notes and reminders from the school – a reminder that included tips on how to get the best broadband could be very useful – especially if you’re school provides devices for the students.

Interactive map of CAF II 903 Auction Approved Bidders

Thanks to CNS for sending me a very cool interactive map of carriers who have been approved to bid in the upcoming auction.

It looks like there are about 19 carriers in Minnesota – scattered almost everywhere but Northeast MN. I’ve tried to list all of the MN carriers – when in doubt, I included the company although some were right on the border.

  1. Roseau Electric Cooperative
  2. Wikstrom Telephone Company, Inc.
  3. Garden Valley Telephone Company
  4. Halstad Telephone Company
  5. Red River Rural Telephone Association, Inc.
  6. Paul Bunyan Rural Telephone Cooperative
  7. Johnson Telephone Company
  8. West Central Telephone Assoc.
  9. Emily Cooperative Telephone Company
  10. Consolidated Telephone Company
  11. FDL Reservation Business Committee
  12. Federated Telephone Cooperative
  13. Farmers Mutual Telephone Company
  14. Hanson Communications, Inc.
  15. Broadband Corp.
  16. Jaguar Communications, Inc
  17. Winnebago Cooperative Telecom Association
  18. Lismore Cooperative Telephone Company
  19. Woodstock Telephone Company

Forget dig once – what about gluing fiber to the road

I think this is a fascinating idea – using super sonic glue to “lay fiber” to save money. It’s being piloted now…

The city’s pilot project, which began in May 2017, is one of the first for a startup based in the greater Washington, D.C., area called Traxyl (stylized as TRAXyL). The company has patented methods to adhere fiber cables to hard surfaces using substances that should protect them from basically anything, from weather to 50-ton excavators.

The company’s still working out the exact formula it will use for the resin coatings, but central to the process is methyl methacrylate. Usually called MMA, road-managing agencies — more in Europe than the U.S. — typically use the stuff as a hardier version of paint for traffic markings. Sellers market it as an alternative that can stand up to abuse in colder climes. Some use it as a quick option for installing new floors.

They have a video on how it works…

How much is it?

“Our costs aren’t identified yet because we’re not at scale, we’re still a small startup, but we’re thinking about costs of $5 a foot and even lower with scale,” said Daniel Turner, Traxyl’s founder and CEO. “Trenching can be anywhere from $15 to $300 per foot, depending on what obstacles you’re getting into.”

I look forward to hearing how it goes. I live in St Paul. We have pot holes. Not sure how that factors in. Again – look forward to hearing more.