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.

Great Community Opportunity for Community looking for Broadband!

UPDATE: the three communities have been chosen. Thank you!

Three rural communities will take a great leap forward in their knowledge of how to improve their broadband at the fall Border to Border Broadband Conference by taking part in a broadband planning exercise or charrette over the course of the conference.  Two of the three spots are already spoken for and we are seeking a third to fill our capacity.  Each team will go through a mini-feasibility study process assisted by their own nationally recognized planning consultant.  By the end of the conference, the community teams will have more knowledge of technology options, costs, finance, operating scenarios and partnerships.

We require a minimum of five community members to come to the conference and participate on the team.  Other conference attendees from other communities may join your team as interested participants.  Conference registration fees will be waived though communities are responsible for their own travel and lodging.  Communities will also be required to conduct a community survey in advance of the conference as a key input into the planning  process.  This will be a great opportunity for a community – from a single community to a county!

For more information, contact Bill Coleman, bill@communitytechnologyadvisors.com or 651-491-2551.

A tool for schools: Finding the Broadband Internet Service That Works for Your Family

My colleague Bill Coleman has created an awesome guide to help parents and students find the home Internet connection that best fits their needs, in terms of bandwidth and price. Actually, it was created with schools in mind. While the guide can be used ASIS, it’s really a template and the idea is that a school might help fill in the local blanks. For example, help list the providers in the area.

Now is a good time to share it. School is starting soon. All of us parents are starting to buy good shoes, get kids to go to bed early, do those things you need to do to make for a smooth first day. And for some families that may mean getting online or looking for an online upgrade. It’s also the time we’re getting notes and reminders from the school – a reminder that included tips on how to get the best broadband could be very useful – especially if you’re school provides devices for the students.