Free Webinar April 18 on Building Better Broadband for Cities and Counties!

Looks like an interesting session with several Minnesota stories…

Are broadband bandwidth and reliability problems plaguing your town or city due to:

  1. Low population density and hence reluctant investment by major carriers?
  2. Environmental issues that drive up the cost of replacing old, overloaded infrastructure?
  3. Restrictive permitting processes that prolong approval processes?

CJIS GROUP invites you to join Mark Mrla of Finley Engineering, Tom Johnson of Nobles County, Minnesota and Mark Erickson formerly of the City of Winthrop, Minnesota, to learn how two jurisdictions addressed these issues with innovative methods to dramatically improve broadband services to their constituents.

Topics addressed will include:

  • Funding through Public-Private Partnerships and Multi-jurisdictional cooperative agreements
  • Fundamentals of feasibility studies – when do you need them, what do they cost and what do they deliver

Network design and build considerations in difficult physical and economic environments


What: Building Better Broadband for Cities and Counties
When: Apr 18 2018 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM (EDT)

Register Now!

Chippewa County takes a closer look at broadband plans

Montevideo American News reports on the recent Chippewa County Board of Commissioners Meeting…

In other business, Chris Konechne of Finley Engineering, and Doug Dawson, CCG, presented the results of the Broadband Feasibility Study. The board directed Konechne and Dawson to set up meetings with prospective partners for a broadband project.

FCC unveils updated broadband map – does it reflect reality in your zip code?

Borrowing from the Benton headlines – here’s the info on FCC’s latest national broadband map

As it works to close the digital divide, the Federal Communications Commission has updated and modernized its National Broadband Map so the map can once again be a key source of broadband deployment information for consumers, policymakers, researchers, and others. The new, cloud-based map will support more frequent data updates and display improvements at a far lower cost than the original mapping platform, which had not been updated in years. Improvements and features in the successor National Broadband Map include:

  • Fixed deployment data based on the latest collection by the FCC and updated twice annually

  • Deployment summaries available for seven different geographical types: nation, state, county, congressional district, city or town (census place), Tribal area, and Core -based

  • Statistical Area (such as New York-Newark-Jersey City NY-NJ-PA)

  • Broadband availability and provider counts in each of the nation’s over 11 million census blocks, available for six technologies (fiber, DSL, cable, satellite, fixed wireless, and other) as well as seven speeds, for a total of 441 combinations

  • Provider summary information available for 1,782 providers by technology, eight download speed tiers, and nine upload speed tiers

  • Deployment comparisons between geographic areas

  • A portal for data downloads

  • Satellite imagery map overlay that shows buildings, roads, and geography

  • Graphs that show what fraction of an area’s population has access to broadband at a given speed

You can use the maps to track access to a specific address or by community – county, state, zip code, tribal area, congressional district or MSA. Rumor has it that FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel is encouraging people to send corrections/suggestions to SO check it out – see if what you find on the maps for your community meets what you know to be true. If not, report it. These maps are used to make decisions. It’s worth making sure they are as accurate as possible.

Ely uses feasibility study to come up with better broadband scenarios for the community

The Institute for Local Self Reliance (MunitNetworks) reports…

Last fall, the northern Minnesota community of Ely took up a feasibility study to determine the possibilities of better connectivity with publicly owned Internet infrastructure. They also wanted to explore local interest in investment. After conducting a survey and reviewing the situation, local officials are contemplating moving ahead with two pilot projects.

They outline the results of a recent community survey…

As anticipated, residents and businesses who took the survey revealed that 94 percent of local residents and 98 percent of business owners want improved connectivity in Ely. Jack Maytum, senior broadband analyst for Design Nine, relayed that approximately 400 residents and 60 local business owners completed the survey. The community chose Design Nine to complete the feasibility study.

From the residents who took the survey, only nine percent have connections that meet the FCC definition of broadband — 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload.

Forty-four percent of the people answering the survey purchase DSL Internet access and 27 percent subscribe to cable service.

Forty-eight percent of those who completed the survey said that they have the type of Internet access they have because they have “no other option.” If the Ely community had better competition, for companies and types of services, they might not need to engage in a feasibility study or consider a publicly owned option, but like many rural communities, large national providers are investing elsewhere.

Twenty-three percent of respondents consider themselves self-employed or describe their employment as full-time or part-time from home. In places like Ely, where upload speeds are not robust, entrepreneurs with home bases have a difficult time if their businesses require connectivity. For many businesses today, the ability to send information to colleagues online is a necessity and a fast, reliable connection is critical to everyday business.

Subsequently, they are looking at a few options – like starting with the downtown area…

One of the pilot projects community leaders are now considering is a fiber loop around the downtown area. Community leaders want to help existing businesses and attract new growth. At this early stage, Design Nine and the city are working on cost estimates, but Ely leaders have expressed that better broadband is a priority.

Another focuses on residential areas…

The pilot project for residential service may take on a public-private flavor. One of the early suggestions is that the city invest in fixed wireless equipment and towers and fiber at two local lakes that are outside of city limits. They would own the infrastructure and lease it to a private sector Internet Service Provider (ISP) to offer fixed wireless services to the homes around the area.

Man Sets Up His Own 4G Antenna, In Order To Get Broadband To His Remote Farm

I’m looking up something else and I found this video that I had to share!

Here’s the description from YouTube…

Living on a farm nestled in a remote area of Salisbury Plain, Richard Guy had battled for years with an unbearably slow internet signal. But the 60-year-old farmer decided enough was enough and resolved to take on telecoms giant BT and find an alternative source. Mr Guy noticed that his mobile phone’s 4G signal – a wireless internet connection – was significantly faster than the broadband link provided by BT to his home, but he needed to find a way to route the signal to his farmhouse. So the savvy father-of-two built his own makeshift wooden telephone mast, on which he set up a 4G adaptor inside a toolbox.

Ely is looking at their feasibility study and making a broadband plan

The Ely Echo reports

Armed with survey results showing significant demand for better and faster internet service, Ely city officials are pondering a major step forward.
They’re considering a pilot project to bring high-speed “broadband” service to the downtown corridor and some rural areas, including to properties on Shagawa and Burntside lakes.
The project comes on the heels of surveys showing 94 percent of area residents and 98 percent of local business owners want better internet data service.
Jack Maytum, senior broadband analyst for Design Nine, outlined the pilot project with council members Tuesday during their city economic development authority meeting.
In the talking stages for at least a year, the pilot project is the next step in the city’s quest to enhance high-speed internet options in the area for both business owners and residents and comes in the midst of the city’s involvement in a broadband program sponsored by the Blandin Foundation.

Cost estimates for the initiative are being developed for a project that would apparently involve a fiber loop along Sheridan Street from Third Avenue West to 12th Avenue East. A number thrown out in an earlier meeting this week had a cost of $750,000 for pole work.
A second pilot project would include placing wireless internet towers that would serve Burntside and Shagawa lakes. One tower would be at Sandy Point for the north shore of Shagawa, with another near Schaefer Road to point to the north side of Burntside.
City officials say they would look for Midco, Frontier or somebody else to provide the services
“The city could own the fiber and lease it out to somebody else,” said Harold Langowski, the city’s clerk-treasurer and operations director.
The group is still a month away from putting figures on paper. Langowski said the next steps could including an RFP for broadband partners to provide service and city would go after funding to get the fiber loop constructed and put up the 70 to 80 foot poles for the wireless service.

Getting a feasibility study is a good first step for many communities looking to improve broadband in their area. Here’s some of what Ely learned…

Some of the notable results of the residential survey included:
• 94 percent wanted better internet service;
• 93 percent said internet service is very important to their household;
• Regarding current internet service, 44 percent have DSL connections and 27 percent have cable modems;
• 48 percent have the type of internet service they currently do “because there is no other option;”
• 90 percent of households that completed the survey have just one or two persons in the household;
• 40 percent spend between $75 and $150 per month for television, phone and internet service excluding cell phones, and 36 percent pay over $150 per month;
• Just over a third (35 percent) pay between $41 and $60 per month for internet;
• 36 percent have five or six devices (smart phones, iPads, etc.) in their household;
• 80 percent reported having problems with playing videos and 75 percent have trouble when another person in the household is using internet service;
• Only nine percent of the people have the definition of broadband service, which is listed at 25 mbs of download time.
• Most use internet service for accessing news, social networks, banking and shopping;
• Nearly half of the respondents – 45 percent – would be willing to pay $40 to $80 per month more for faster service;
• 23 percent described themselves as self-employed either working full-time or part-time from home.
Among business owners who responded, 92 percent expressed dissatisfaction with current service and 98 percent said they needed better data service.

Isanti County broadband survey indicates community needs more

The Isanti County News reports on the results of a broadband survey taken last summer. (The survey was sponsored by a grant from the Blandin Foundation, the Initiative Foundation and Isanti County.)…

“We had a 12 percent response rate which is stunning. The expected response would be four to five percent,” said Janna King with Economic Development Services. “Eighty-three percent of the people said their Internet was inadequate. Among the 44 businesses that responded, 10 said they would consider re-locating because of their Internet service. That is pretty dramatic from an economic development perspective.” …

Survey results indicate Internet service is highly important and there is a high level of dissatisfaction with current level of service.

  • Eighty-eight percent of residents say they need better Internet-data service, 92 percent said Internet access is very important and 1 percent said it is not important.
  • Eighty-three percent of businesses say they need better Internet-data service and 95 percent said the Internet is essential to their business.
  • Sixty-six percent of businesses said limited Internet access at employees’ residences impacts their business.
  • Twenty-four percent of businesses said Internet service options impact their business’ decision to relocate or stay in the county.

“Clearly, the business responses indicate this is an economic development issue. With the residents, there are multiple reasons it is highly important. It is not just about playing games and looking at Facebook. Over 30 pages of comments indicate challenges for families with students who need Internet access to complete homework, employees who need to log-in remotely to work on computers, farmers and rural small businesses who need better Internet access, and people who could telecommute part- time or full-time if they had better service. Respondents indicated that satellite and cellular service are helping them access the internet, but there are important limitations and challenges with those services for many people. Health care organizations are concerned about the lack of rural broadband, because they see tremendous opportunities to save money and improve service through existing and emerging telemedicine technologies. Realtors report that the lack of Internet access impacts home sales,” King stated.