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.

Broadband is a game changer – try to imagine a community that never developed roads – this primer might help

arcLast summer, the ARC (Appalachian Regional Commission) released a Broadband Planning Primer and Toolkit. I’ve been waiting for a chance to check it out. The day finally came.

I think it will be useful to a wide range of audiences.

It’s a primer so it includes the what and why of broadband. I’ll just copy my favorite line:

Try to imagine communities that never developed roads and electricity and you will understand the dismal prospects that confront unconnected communities.

They do a nice job of explaining backbone vs middle mile vs last mile and the range of transport options.

They include some policymaker-ready statistics…

  • Increasing broadband access 10 percentage points increases Gross Domestic Product 1 percent
  • Doubling broadband speeds for an economy can add 0.3 percent to GDP growth
  • 80 new jobs are created for every additional broadband 1,000 users

And at the local (home) level

  • Broadband speed upgrades affect development: Upgrading from 0.5 Mbps to 4 Mbps increases income by around $322 per month
  • Online job searches result in re-employment 25 percent faster than traditional searches

They go detailed for community leaders that may find themselves in a position to have to understand the technology, policy and funding aspects of broadband. They outline the various types of connectivity in the Appalachian Region, which with a few exceptions, is pretty similar to rural Minnesota. (We have trees and cold; they have mountains.)

The information is practical and easy to read. For example here are two segments from the report that help explain the problem with getting broadband to rural areas…

In areas where DSL service is not available, a number of factors can conspire to make the infrastructure inappropriate or insufficient to support new deployments. In some areas where homes are more than two and half miles or so from the central office or are remote, the distances are simply too great for DSL to be deployed. While DSL can potentially traverse copper for 15,000 feet, the quality and thickness of that copper often restricts providers to serving homes within 10,000 feet of their facilities. There are also instances in which copper has been overleveraged or shared between multiple customers using things like multiplexers, which can use a single pair of copper to carry multiple voice signals. The very measures that once allowed for economical deployment of voice service now stand in the way of deploying DSL service. This leaves some rural providers in the unenviable position of deploying new copper into rural areas.

Cable television service has proliferated in areas where household density is in excess of 10-15 households per mile. There are areas where the cable infrastructure penetrates areas of lower population density, but they often involve special circumstances and/or subsidy. … Many people in rural areas are disconnected from the cable infrastructure even though the cable infrastructure passes their residence. Many farms and homes in rural areas are hundreds if not thousands of feet from the roadway, and the cost of bringing the cable up their driveways is in the thousands of dollars, which often prevents them from becoming customers

Then they outline models of broadband deployment:

  • Public-Private Partnership
  • Private-Sector Led
  • Private-Supported and Government-Led
  • Joint Ownership
  • Municipal, Electric and Telephone Cooperatives
  • Municipal Deployments

They go into the same depth with financing models. Again, there’s a focus on the Appalachian – but much of the info works here too.

Cooperation among Cooperatives: The Best Approach for Broadband in Minnesota: Full meeting notes

There’s a lot in the notes from today’s meeting – especially for communities or cooperatives that are looking for ways to improve broadband in their area. What’s most valuable really depends on where you are in the process but I will say there were a couple of clear messages:

  • Communities without broadband will not survive
  • Now is the time to get started
  • Money is being spent to expand broadband, we just need to get smarter about the investment
  • It’s possible to build if you are deliberate and incremental – it doesn’t have to be fiber right away (wireless plans and data caps negate wireless as an option)

Cooperation among Cooperatives: The Best Approach for Broadband in Minnesota: Full meeting notes

Hosted by Blandin Foundation, Calix, Co-Bank & Great River Energy

July 19, 2016
10:00 am – 2:30 pm
Great River Energy, Maple Grove, Minnesota
get handouts (PTTs scattered below)

Welcome – Tom Lambrecht, Great River Energy

Setting the Stage – Bernadine Joselyn, Blandin Foundation

The Opportunity Continue reading