Comcast expands broadband to Rogers, Dayton and Wayzata MN (Hennepin & Wright Counties)

Fierce Telecom announces investment in broadband in Kansas as well as a few areas in Minnesota…

Other builds include an expansions to 267 homes in Rogers, Minnesota, and another 245 in Dayton; as well as work to reach 537 homes in Grain Valley, Missouri. It also plans to spend $2.5 million on a network expansion in Wayzata, Minnesota.

Practical instructions for getting a community invested in BEAD from Benton

Benton Institute for Broadband and Society has a great article on Getting a BEAD on Community Asset Mapping How Community Development Can Aid Your State’s Broadband Planning. They include what and whom to gather…

The six buckets are individual residents, voluntary associations, formal institutions and agencies, physical assets, local economy and exchange, and culture and stories.

 

And even details on the nitty gritty…

Asset mapping is the process of identifying, engaging and mobilizing these assets. A community asset mapping is entirely distinct from a resource directory which simply lists assets and provides contact information. This distinction is around purpose and rooted in its creation process. Asset mapping is done by gathering community residents and stakeholders and facilitating discussions about what and where the assets are and how they might be engaged and activated towards a community goal. There are a variety of ways to do this and the ABCD Institute at DePaul University has numerous worksheets and templates available. The most effective process I have used goes as follows:

First, gather community residents, leaders and connectors in person or online (if that can be done in an equitable way). Include some key non-resident stakeholders but keep residents, of different ages, in the majority. Nonresident stakeholders who can be very useful in this process include teachers, small business owners, chambers of commerce staff, clergy, school social workers, library staff, and municipal/county/tribal employees such as park and recreation workers, planners and utility workers. This process works especially well with 35-55 people but can be adapted for larger groups. Once gathered, follow these steps:

  1. Randomly divide the large group into six sub-groups.
  2. Assign each group to an asset bucket or category (usually posted on walls around the room)
  3. Give the groups 5-6 minutes to brainstorm and write all the assets in that category that can be found in the defined community (neighborhood, town, county).
  4. After 5-6 minutes ring a bell and have the groups rotate to a new asset category. Give them 4-5 minutes at the new station.
  5. Repeat until all sub-groups have added their input to all asset categories.
  6. Ask each group to rotate one last time to return to the asset category they started with and have them read what was added by other subgroups.
  7. Ask a representative from each area to read the assets from that category to the whole room. Often some discussion will result in recategorization of assets and many assets will appropriately appear in more than one area (e.g. a church is an association that often has physical assets and resident leaders). This will feel long and redundant for the facilitator – but the process creates a cumulative effect on participants. Hearing all the strengths of one’s community for 20 minutes is empowering and energizing and prepares the participants for the next steps.
  8. Seat participants at tables (or send to new breakout rooms if virtual) and ask groups at tables to look at all the assets and answer three questions:
    1. “What can we do with what we have to ________?” The blank would be the purpose of the convening. It could be as broad as “… to make our community stronger.” It can also be specific like “to make our community heart healthy” or “to achieve digital equity.” (Have a definition handy to help focus the discussion.)
    2. What can we do with what we have and some help from others outside the community?
    3. What do we need others outside the community to do?
  9. After 10-15 minutes ask each table to identify 1-2 ideas that they are particularly excited about.
  10. Have each table present their best ideas, using some descriptor words written on paper then taped to the wall.
  11. Ask everyone in the room to think about actions that they want to work on and to which they want to contribute their time or talents. Then invite participants to stand next to the piece of paper with the action idea they want to work on. (Remind participants “It is OK to not stand – honor your limits.”)
  12. Give each group a flip chart sheet to use to identify the assets they might use to implement their action and make the change they want to make. Also, have them write down when and where their action group is meeting next to plan/implement.
  13. Have each action team share out and give participants an opportunity to ‘change teams’ or add their name to a team.
  14. Celebrate and let everyone know when and how follow-up will happen.

 

EVENT Aug 24: Critical Access: Broadband Expansion in Minnesota

From AARP Minnesota (with a thanks for ILSR for the heads up)…

REGISTER TODAY!

Critical Access: Broadband Expansion in Minnesota

START DATE:8/24/2022

START TIME:1:00 PM CDT

DURATION:60 MINUTES

ABSTRACT:

Access to high-speed internet is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. Whether for work, school, health, civic participation, public safety and any other aspect of life, our society is online more every day. However, broadband infrastructure has not been deployed evenly to communities across the state, and many residents lack access. The good news is our state and federal governments have made significant new investments to expand infrastructure. The challenge now is for local leaders and residents to learn how to participate and ensure the expansion happens in their communities where people need access in an equitable way.

In this webinar, Christopher Mitchell, Director of Community Broadband Networks with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance will explain how broad band expansion works, new opportunities for funding, and how local leaders and residents can bring new projects to their communities. Representatives from the [Area Agency on Aging] and AARP will also discuss policy solutions and digital navigation skills for all residents to utilize high-speed internet where it exists.

Cook might benefit from FCC rejection of LTD RDOF application

The Timberjay reports on the FCC rejection of LTD Broadband’s application for RDOF money…

The Federal Communications Commission last week rejected troubled LTD Communication’s $1.3 billion application to build high-speed broadband internet networks in Minnesota and across the nation, a move that should open the door for other companies to provide more timely broadband solutions across a wide swath of the North Country.

I’ve written about this rejection earlier and plenty of local media have covered it so I won’t recap the general information but here’s the local impact…

An example of a North Country location that could benefit from new funding opportunities is Cook. Installation of a state-assisted broadband network by Paul Bunyan Communications for the community may get underway in the next few weeks, but the company had to remove some locations from its plans because they fell just inside of federal tracts awarded to LTD. Given that the news is fresh, Paul Bunyan officials have yet to issue any formal statements about future possibilities for LTD-forfeited tracts, and no such plan for Cook is known to be in the works. But new options are now available for numerous Minnesota communities now that they are no longer blocked from them by LTD.

Institute of Local Self Reliance announce training to help communities manage broadband deployment

The Institute of Local Self Reliance announce two training opportunities to help community leaders manage broadband deployment. The sessions are well times as investment in broadband is coming in fast and furious. Now is the time to be ready. Here’s a quick look at them:

Announcing the Urban Digital Equity Bootcamp

The program is designed to:

  • Increase knowledge and confidence of participants to allow them to better take action in their communities to achieve digital equity. This includes developing familiarity with key jargon and technologies related to Internet access.
  • Develop diverse cohorts and a larger human network of people sharing local strategies, challenges, and solutions.
  • Demystify Internet technology through hands-on applications and small group learning

Attendees will include a diverse group of stakeholders, from local leaders to activists to the philanthropic community. A key group of attendees would include organizations that already have the trust of frontline communities – groups that understand the importance of digital equity but haven’t had the capacity to address it. In larger communities, multiple events can be tailored to fit the different needs of different neighborhoods.

The primary objective will be building knowledge and trust among local organizations so they can engage in strategic campaigns of digital inclusion. These events will need significant local coordination to be effective.

Announcing the Let’s Get Going Broadband Program

The first Let’s Get Going Broadband Program cohort is scheduled to begin in September. The cost per community is $15,000, and we recommend each community will select 3-5 participants to attend.

See the full program flyer with schedule here [pdf], or below.

It includes:

  • Cohort Building – An opportunity for a local broadband team to join a eight-week cohort with other communities in a customized curriculum to develop expertise in solving broadband challenges and taking advantage of funding opportunities.
  • Trainings – 90-minute interactive webinars  focused on understanding – in a commonly accessible manner – broadband technologies, challenges, and how similarly situated communities have addressed these problems.
  • Technical Assistance – Eight, 2-hour technical assistance sessions rooted in local needs
  • Community Progress Reports and Research – Help in developing an information-gathering project with diverse community stakeholders to define digital inclusion problems.

Contact Community Broadband Networks Outreach Team Lead DeAnne Cuellar at deanne@ilsr.org for more details.

Kandiyohi County taking more steps toward the Border to Border grant application

The West Central Tribune reports

High-speed broadband internet expansion continues to be a major priority for the Kandiyohi County Board. The commissioner will receive an update on where projects stand and consider sending out letters of support to be included in the county’s Border to Border grant application.

The board meeting begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the board chambers at the Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services building in Willmar.

How is Pike Township MN going to get better broadband? Through a letter writing campaign

This post is to help spread the word in St Louis County for a fun event. If you’re outside of St Louis County, this point is to spread the word on a good idea.

The folks in Pike Township are holding a virtual letter writing party to invite residents to write letters to support their Border to Border grant application. They are working with Paul Bunyan Communications. What a fun way to get people involved and excited for broadband. Gone are the days when half the battle was getting the locals excited but never gone is the advantage of a community that is excited to subscribe.

Redwood County residents asked to take a survey and leave a message about broadband

This is a reach out to folks in Redwood County and a possible idea for other counties. Redwood County is working with Arvig on a Border to Border grant. The County EDA has been working on a broadband vision…

Every resident and business in Redwood County will have access to an affordable, reliable, high-speed internet connection delivered by committed community partners skilled in operating and maintaining a successful fiber broadband network.

And a place for Redwood County residents to engage. Folks are invited to take the broadband survey or send in their personal message about broadband need.  It’ll be a great accompaniment to their grant application as well as providing insight into need.

Duluth approved digital access master plan and State broadband grant application

Broadband and broadband funding has been a hot topic in Duluth these days, as WDIO reports, it sounds like some decisions were made this week..

The Duluth City Council considered several broadband related resolutions during a meeting Monday evening.

The council did approve resolutions approving the city’s digital access master plan and also approved a resolution which will allow the city to submit an application to the state for a $3.2 million development grant.

However, the council decided to send back to administration a resolution that would establish up to $5,000,000 from the Community Investment Trust Fund to support the Duluth open Access Fiber Pilot Project.

More information on all three resolutions can be found here.

Microsoft makes searchable digital equity map available online

Microsoft on the Issues reports…

We often say that you can’t fix a problem you don’t understand. Today, Microsoft is releasing a new Digital Equity Data Dashboard to help create better understanding of the economic opportunity gaps in towns, cities and neighborhoods across the United States. The new tool was developed by our Chief Data Science Officer Juan Lavista Ferres and the Microsoft AI for Good Lab, and aggregates public data from the Census Bureau, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), BroadbandNow and Microsoft’s own Broadband Usage Data. It goes census tract-by-census tract, examining 20 different indicators of digital equity – such as broadband access, usage, education and poverty rates – to create one of the most complete pictures of digital equity in these areas to date.

Access the dashboard here

EVENT July 13: NTIA’s Middle Mile Grant Program Project Portion Webinar

An invitation from the NTIA…

Join NTIA’s Middle Mile Grant Program Project Portion Webinar

Title: Internet for All Webinar Series: Project Portion of the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program Application

Date: Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Time: 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM ET

Description: This webinar will provide an in-depth look at all the parameters that proposed projects must meet under the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program. This webinar will provide applicants with technical assistance and prepare them to write high-quality applications. The Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program provides $1 billion in funding for this vital part of our nation’s high-speed network and will reduce the cost of bringing high-speed internet to unserved and underserved communities.

Register Now

Charter breaks ground on broadband expansion in Kandiyohi County

The West Central Tribune posts pictures from the Groundbreaking for Charter’s Kandiyohi County broadband expansion from Monday, May 16, 2022.

The $800,000 broadband project made possible by the partnership of local elected officials and Charter Communications.

Ceylon City gets $1 million from Community Development Block Grant/CARES to deploy FTTH (Martin County)

Fairmont Sentinel reports

The Ceylon City Council has given Federated Broadband, a division of Federated Rural Electric Association (REA), approval to install fiber internet for the city’s residents. When the project is completed Ceylon will have some of the best internet access in Martin County.

CEYLON– The Ceylon City Council has given Federated Broadband, a division of Federated Rural Electric Association (REA), approval to install fiber internet for the city’s residents. When the project is completed Ceylon will have some of the best internet access in Martin County.

Funding for fiber installation comes from a Community Development Block Grant worth nearly one million dollars from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), which in turn was funded by the federal CARES Act. The grant money means residents who live within the city’s municipal boundary can receive free residential fiber installation.

“The average speed in Ceylon is about ten megabytes. The top speed that’s coming in will be one gig. Think about this; let’s look at a megabyte as one mile per hour. If you have a thousand megabytes that’s one gigabyte. Imagine going ten miles an hour, now you’re able to go a thousand miles an hour,” said Ceylon Mayor John Gibeau.

Some detail on initial steps…

The city council vote to approve approximately $4,700 for CEDA to submit a grant application on behalf of the city was split with Gibeau casting the tie-breaking vote. The application was submitted in July of 2021 and in August the city was awarded $983,105 for broadband improvement. After the grant was awarded the city began the process of planning its expansion and selecting a contractor to install the fiber optic system.

The city initially considered contracting with Federated Broadband or LTD Broadband, before selecting Federated.

 

Duluth plans to pursue MN Border to Border funding

CBS3 Duluth reports

Broadband access in Duluth has been an ongoing headache for many residents and business owners.

Now, city leaders are working on a plan to address the problem.

They are going to pursue Border to Border funding…

“The City of Duluth is looking and proposing to City Council to go and seek some border to border grant funding to do a pilot project of fiber internet access here in Lincoln Park,” Nygren said.

Fiber internet access is faster than what is currently offered in Duluth — cable and satellite.

“Fiber is the difference between using a fire hose to get your internet access versus somebody’s garden hose,” said Nygren.

The plan doesn’t increase taxes.

Funding would come from grants, the community investment trust fund and a few other sources.

OPPORTUNITY: RFP for Broadband engineering and services in Crow Wing County

The Brainerd Dispatch posts a RFP

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS BROADBAND ENGINEERING AND BROADBAND SERVICE PROVIDER FOR THE CROW WING COUNTY CDBG-CV BROADBAND PROJECT The Board of Commissioners of Crow Wing County, Minnesota, will receive proposals from all interested providers of High-Speed Internet/Broadband services for affordable, reliable high-speed Internet access for residential, business, and government constituents within Crow Wing County. The specification packet is available through the Crow Wing County Administrator’s Office, Historic Courthouse, 326 Laurel St, Ste 13, Brainerd, MN 56401, telephone 218-824-1067, e-mail coadmin@crowwing.us. Proposals shall be received by the Crow Wing County Administrator no later than 5:00 PM on July 5, 2022. Crow Wing County reserves the right to waive any irregularities and to reject any or all proposals or award upon such basis as they may deem to be in the County’s best interest. /s/ TIMOTHY J. HOULE, COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR CROW WING COUNTY, MINNESOTA