New Toolkit to Answer Your Library’s Tech Questions

There’s a new toolkit to help rural and tribal librarians work with technology. It includes things like:

  • Technology Inventory
  • Types of broadband services and activities they support
  • Technical staff and support required
  • Broadband funding (E-rate and more)
  • Best practices – including training, acceptable use policies and filtering
  • Technology planning templates

Some parts are pretty library-specific but many could spur conversations with other community institutions or communities in general. You can learn more from this handy video…

How to plan for possible federal funding for broadband

CTC Technology recently posted an article that is a Preliminary Guidance For New USDA Rural Broadband Funding Opportunity

Earlier this year, Congress made the first major appropriation for broadband infrastructure deployment in a decade. The following is our preliminary high-level analysis and strategic guidance for counties, towns, states, and public utilities regarding that funding—the e-Connectivity Pilot—a U.S Department of Agriculture program that will fund last-mile broadband infrastructure deployment in rural areas.[1]

In short, we anticipate that substantial funding for last-mile rural broadband will be made available early in 2019, and that experienced public ISPs, as well as collaborative public-private efforts, will be well positioned to compete for these funds.

USDA has not yet released the detailed rules for the program, so most of what we know about the e-Connectivity Pilot is very preliminary and based on RUS’s public statements and its track record with other broadband programs.

If you are considering applying for the new funding, the time to prepare is now, in anticipation of an application deadline in early 2019.

I won’t post the whole article, which includes checklists of things to consider, but if you are in a position where you might be seeking federal funding, I highly recommend checking it out.

DEED Launches Tool to Measure, Report Broadband Access

From DEED – please check it out, help them get the speeds right across the state!

ST PAUL – The Minnesota Office of Broadband Development, located within the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), today launched a new tool that will allow Minnesotans to test, map and report various broadband internet speeds across the state.

CheckSpeedMinnesota.com is a benchmarking tool designed to gather information about the high-speed internet consumer experience in Minnesota. By answering a few questions and running a speed test, the input captured will help create a better overall picture of broadband in the state.

“The Minnesota Office of Broadband Development is charged by law with measuring and monitoring broadband internet access levels throughout the state,” said DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy. “This tool will increase our understanding of the consumer experience to ensure we are making smart investments. We urge the public to report on the type and speed of internet they are buying for their homes and businesses.”

“As high-speed internet service plays an increasingly important role in all aspects of maintaining economically and socially healthy communities, CheckSpeedMinnesota.com can help identify where the state has robust and competitive service available and also areas where consumers believe more attention may be required to meet the needs of Minnesota both today and into the future,” said Danna MacKenzie, executive director of the Office of Broadband Development.

The maps generated by the tool will be displayed for the public as well as incorporated into information that is provided annually to the governor and legislature.

All internet speed test results vary due to factors including time of day, number of devices connected and bandwidth consumed during a test. These factors will be taken into consideration when analyzing results.

DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. For more details about the agency and its services, visit the DEED website or follow us on Twitter .

Ely is looking at broadband as economic development tool with Blandin Foundation’s help

The Timberjay reports…

The city of Ely is continuing its efforts to spur smarter use of technology for improved and successful economic development and ultimately an improved quality of life throughout the community.

Clerk-Treasurer Harold Langowski told the Ely Economic Development Authority Tuesday night that the goal of establishing a reliable broadband network in the Ely area remains at the top of the list for many in the community and more funding is available to help reach that goal.

Similar to a program funded and facilitated two years ago by the Blandin Foundation, Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and St. Louis County, Ely and five other communities in northern Minnesota will again share $50,000 in an effort to be more tech-savvy as better broadband is pursued and established throughout the Ely School District.

A Broadband Visioning Community Meeting will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 30, from 4-7 p.m. at Amici’s Events Center with the entire Ely community invited to join a coalition of local leaders to explore options and alternatives to improve broadband speed and availability. Representatives from the Blandin Foundation will again attend the meeting.

“Over the past two years we have enhanced Ely’s web presence, assisted businesses to be more tech-savvy, distributed refurbished computers to families and pursued better broadband throughout the area,” Langowski said. “If you have any project ideas or proposals, please bring them to this meeting,” Langowski said. “If Blandin approves them, they fund them, and small (community) groups carry the projects out. The last few projects went very well. This is a great program.”

Past projects of this initiative included the establishment of the “Elyite” website and the Ten Below co-working business development center. Project categories include, but are not limited to, broadband access, workforce innovation, digital equity and marketing. “The Ely Broadband Coalition continues to work toward completing these goal and needs community input to continue these efforts,” Langowski said.

“These projects, with leadership and support, can move forward to be considered for funding by our steering committee,” he added. New members are always welcome on the steering committee.

For more information, contact Langowski at elyod@ely.mn.us, or call 218-226-5449.

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.