Dakota County looks at Rights of Way and Broadband Joint Powers

This afternoon’s post is unapologetically wonky. I attended a Dakota County Commissioner’s meeting where they discussed changes to their Management of Public Rights of Way due to changes in state statute to accommodate small cell equipment placement and an agreement to create the Dakota Broadband Board Joint Powers. You can find minutes of the meeting online.

I thought this might be helpful for other communities that may need to make similar changes and/or are looking at Joint Powers agreements for shared broadband management. (Dakota County is always good about sharing their broadband related notes and templates!)

First notes from the Public Hearing To Receive Comments And To Amend Ordinance 126, Management Of Public Right Of Way are on pages 43-45. And you can see the proposed ordinance changes to the Ordinance on pages 46-75.

I was tempted to paste sections here – but frankly it’s easier to read the PDF with changes in red. It is interesting to see how they balance wanting to give utility access to citizens with community safety and aesthetics.

There are sections that I found of particular interest:

  • 103.49 Special Event Permit (pg 55)
  • 103.52 Small Wireless Facility. (pg 55) – gets into the size of equipment
  • Subd. 3. Small Wireless Facility Conditions. (pg 62)
  • Mapping – it would be nice to have public access to where the facilities were located for planning

Next – the Authorization To Execute Joint Powers Agreement To Create Dakota Broadband Board Joint Powers Organization (pages 327-329 ). At the October 31, 2017 County Board Meeting, the County Board authorized the County Board Chair to execute a joint powers agreement to create the Dakota Broadband Board (DBB) joint powers entity to manage the Dakota County Institutional Network (I-Net). After the County Board adopted that resolution, some cities that have indicated they wish to participate in the DBB raised questions about various terms in the joint powers agreement. After numerous discussions between the DBB consultant, Craig Ebeling, city attorneys and the County Attorney’s Office, the questions and proposed modifications to certain terms in the joint powers agreement have been resolved.

The revised Joint Powers Agreement is found on pages 331-356. Here’s the Table of Contents

  1. Statement of Purpose and Powers to be Exercised ………….1
  2. Manner of Exercising Powers; Creation of Dakota County Broadband Board ……1
  3. Defined Terms …………………………..1
  4. Participant ……………………3
  5. Board……………………………………………….4
  6. Acquisition of Interests in System Components……………….7
  7. Ownership of System Components……………………..7
  8. Expansion of System……………………………………..8
  9. Operating and Maintenance Cost Sharing……………..8
  10. Financing Initial I-Net and Initial C-Net Capital Improvements …….8
  11. Revenue Generation…………………..9
  12. Establishment of a Relocation Pool; Submission of Capital Plans……9
  13. Default; Remedies…………..10
  14. Limitation of Liability; Indemnification …10
  15. Termination of Board; Disposition of Assets……..11
  16. Amendments………………………………11





Coming to the conference? Got a community broadband tool to share? Bring it!

I’m doing something I rarely do – I’m rerunning a blog post – in part because I know I’ll see lots of folks at the Broadband Conference this week and I wanted to tell you that if you want to clean out some drawers and bring some old broadband tools to me, I’ll happily scan and add to our toolkit…

We are looking to collect tools, templates, instructions that folks in Minnesota have created that would be useful to other communities as they try to get/use better broadband. Things like curriculum for a class, instructions on how to put wifi on a bus or in a public space, your to-do list (or project management spreadsheet) for your tech fair, press releases, community survey, RFP (for feasibility study, community portal, anything).

If you don’t mind sharing – please send anything you think might be helpful to me (Ann Treacy atreacy@treacyinfo.com). We are going to create a space for resources on the Blandin on Broadband blog and then share with a wider audience through different channels.

Meeker County is asking residents about their broadband

I wanted to help spread the word to Meeker County residents (and share a sample with communities that might have similar questions for their community members); the Litchfield Independent Review reports

A study of Meeker County’s internet/broadband availability will begin soon, according to the Meeker Development Corporation.

Meeker County has hired Design Nine as the Broadband/Internet access consultant to help study broadband/internet availability and service in Meeker County.

Meeker County residents are asked to help by completing a survey about their current internet service and or lack of service. Survey information gathered from the residents will help create options for the future planning of internet/broadband services for the residents of Meeker County and is “highly needed,” according to a news release from the Meeker Development Corporation, in partnership with the Meeker County Economic Development Authority.

Use the following links to fill out the surveys online, and click the submit button at the end of the survey:

Ely is doing a broadband feasibility – if you’re in Ely you can help

Ely is looking to get input from local residents and businesses about their broadband use and need. I wanted to share to help spread the word to folks in Ely. But also it’s a good model for any community that might be looking to do the same.


The Ely Echo reports…

Ely area residents and business owners, your input is needed.
In the quest to create a broadband fiber loop downtown and improve high-speed internet service in the city limits and into the surrounding townships, area leaders have commissioned a pair of public surveys.
One is for residents and the other is for business owners, and both come as part of an ongoing area broadband feasibility study that encompasses the boundaries of the Ely School District.

A little background on the project…

Earlier in the year, Ely was named one of six Blandin Broadband Communities in northeastern Minnesota, and a $25,000 grant from the Grand Rapids-based foundation will help fund the feasibility study.
The study is the next step in what could be an effort to improve internet service in the Ely area.
City officials have talked about establishing a fiber loop downtown and expanding the network outward, and Langowski said efforts aren’t limited to the city limits.
In a nod to those who live outside of town and have wrestled with slow internet speeds, Langowski said the project could involve towers for improved wireless service in the outlying areas.

And a link to the survey…

The survey is already up on the city’s website (www.ely.mn.us) and has been distributed via e-mail to some interested parties.
The residential survey includes questions about demographics, satisfaction with and the level of current internet service, current internet speed, how respondents use the internet, reliability of current internet service. Respondents are also asked how much they’d be willing to pay for faster, higher quality internet service.
Business owners are asked similar questions, as well as specific questions about how their business might use faster service and the importance of redundancy – which provides additional protection and network availability in case of technical failure.

Feasibility study in Pipestone County find wireless more affordable broadband option

The Pipestone County Star reports…

The most viable way to provide broadband internet service to under-served parts of Pipestone County is with a wireless system, and even that is not feasible without a grant.

Those were the findings of a broadband internet study Pipestone County commissioned earlier this year to find out what it would take to provide broadband access to the under-served parts of the county. Doug Dawson, President of CCG Consulting, and Mark Mrla, business unit manager with Finley Engineering, presented the results of the study Sept. 12 to the Pipestone County Board.

The study examined three scenarios to bring broadband to 1,747 homes where it is not currently available: Build a complete fiber system; build a hybrid fiber and wireless system; or an all wireless system. An all-fiber system requiring 458 miles of fiber was estimated to cost $12,359,445, a hybrid system $5,327,253, and an all wireless system $1,002,809.

A factor on the table…

Meanwhile, Woodstock Communications expects to find out before the end of the year if it will receive a $363,000 Minnesota Border to Border Broadband grant to build a hybrid fiber/wireless system estimated to cost $967,000.

The company’s plan differs from the $5,327,253 hybrid plan in the feasibility study because Woodstock would use existing infrastructure and less fiber, relying more heavily on wireless service.

So they are waiting to figure out what to do…

Sharon Hanson, Pipestone County administrator, said the county plans to wait and see if Woodstock Communications receives the grant it has applied for and will share the broadband study with other internet providers if requested.

Pipestone County undertook the study in collaboration with five other counties. Its share of the $252,500 total cost of the study was $39,798, half of which was paid by a grant.

But the feasibility study contractors think that info will remain pertinent…

Dawson said the cost of fiber construction has remained steady over the last decade, so the costs in the report will probably be reliable for quite a while.

Ely prepares for a feasibility study

The Ely Echo reports on a recent Rotary Club meeting where they seemed to discuss broadband in great details. (What a smart place to spread the word!) The article is informative; I’ll try to pull out some of the highlights.

They Ely Area Broadband Coalition met recently…

The group has hired a consultant to complete a feasibility study in the Ely area to develop options for improved internet speed.
Jack Maytum, Senior Broadband Analyst with Design Nine, was at the meeting taking input and discussing opportunities.
Only a few minutes into the meeting stories of poor internet service surfaced.

The future of Lake Connections has had an impact on the area…

Lake Connections has provided high speed connections to a number of people south of Ely, including to residents in Babbitt and Embarrass. However the company managing the project scaled back when funds dried up.
Lake County hired CTC to manage Lake Connections and is now trying to sell the business.
“We’re connecting customers with the resources we have. With Lake County selling Lake Connections it will be another six months before there’s any real movement on selling the network. At that time whoever purchases Lake Connections is who you need to talk to,” said Joseph Buttweiler of Connect CTC out of Brainerd.
He added that of the 13,500 homes listed on the original federal funding application, Lake Connections has just 2,600 subscribers.

The project is assessing needs and assets…

Maytum said the first step will be an inventory of assets in the area, including towers, fiber, and other elements of a network. There will be a survey sent out to residential and business owners in the Ely area.
Surveys can be filled out on paper and mailed in or filled out online.
Maytum said he could see Ely with a fiber “core” (rather than copper or wireless) that could be built around the city limits.
He said the core could be used to connect to towers that would provide wireless broadband in the townships.
The 180-foot towers could serve clusters of homes and could be built in as little as six months. Maytum said that cost could be as low as $135,000 for construction.

The will look at financing…

A detailed financial analysis will be performed, including where to get the funding. The study will recommend who should run the network. The city will be the owner, but a non-profit should probably manage it.

And a glimpse at expectations from incumbent providers…

“We’ve seen a change in the cable and telephone industries,” said Maytum. Their business model focuses more on content than infrastructure.
“Here, in Ely, we’ll be looking at Frontier poles and pole access closely,” said Maytum.

Got a broadband tool to share?

We are looking to collect tools, templates, instructions that folks in Minnesota have created that would be useful to other communities as they try to get/use better broadband. Things like curriculum for a class, instructions on how to put wifi on a bus or in a public space, your to-do list (or project management spreadsheet) for your tech fair, press releases, RFP (for feasibility study, community portal, anything)…

If you don’t mind sharing – please send anything you think might be helpful to me (Ann Treacy atreacy@treacyinfo.com). We are going to create a space for resources on the Blandin on Broadband blog and then share with a wider audience through different channels.

Need an example?

I know this isn’t from Minnesota – but here’s a great example from North Carolina all about Community WiFi. (Your submission doesn’t have to be this polished!)