Join a roundtable discussion with the Office of Broadband Development

I was fleshing out events to add to the Broadband Calendar and got a little help from my friends at the MN Office of Broadband Development. They have three roundtable discussions planned in the next few months. I wanted to get the word out in case you were on the fence about attending any of these events. ALSO in case you have a colleague or neighbor who is likely to attend the conference and might attend this session if you encouraged them to learn more about broadband…

  • Broadband and Townships – Roundtable discussion on broadband at MN Association of Township’s 2018 Education Conference – Friday, November 16th, Duluth, DECC  – 1:15 – 3:30pm
  • Broadband and School districts – Roundtable discussion on broadband at MN School Board Association’s 2019 Leadership Conference – Thursday, January 17th, 2019 , Minneapolis, Minneapolis Convention Center –  1:30 – 3:00pm
  • Broadband and Counties – Breakout session on broadband at Association of Minnesota Counties’ 2019 Legislative Conference Feb 13-14 – Date and time TBD.

ISSA Team of Bemidji Wins 2018 GigaZone Gaming Championship

I love this event!

Over 3,500 attended the 3rd annual GigaZone Gaming Championship on Saturday, October 20 at the Sanford Center George W. Neilson Convention Center. The event featured free gaming on various console and arcade games, numerous tournaments, virtual reality, door prizes, and more.

This one of a kind regional gaming event showcases Paul Bunyan Communications’ IT and web development team which custom built and integrated much of the online technology and leverages the speed of the GigaZone one of the largest rural all-fiber optic Gigabit networks in the country. The entire event was run off a single residential GigaZone Internet connection.

ISSA Team from Bemidji won the 3rd annual GigaZone Gaming Championship and $1,500 defeating the Iron Range Legends who won $900 for second place.  The Shinob Squad took third place and $450.  A total of 32 of northern Minnesota’s best Overwatch teams competed on the esports stadium style stage in the GigaZone Championship Arena.

In addition to the Overwatch Community 3v3 Tournament, there was several other open tournaments including Fortnite, Rocket League, Mario Kart 8, Madden 19, Super Smash Bros. (4), Super Smash Bros. Melee, Magic the Gathering Booster Drafts, Tron, Bust A Move, Galaga, and Asteroids.  Admission was free and there were a lot of door prizes given away including grand prize winners Michael Railsback of Bemidji who won an Xbox One X and Jesse Waldo of Detroit Lakes who won a PS4 Pro.

“There is a large gaming community in our area and GigaZone Gaming Championship not only showcases some of the region’s best gamers but it gives everyone a chance to get in on the action!  It was awesome to see so many people from right here and all over come together!” said Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General Manager

“Our cooperative continues to expand one of the largest rural fiber gigabit networks in the country and that brings many advantages to our members.  The GigaZone provides extreme speed and low latency which are critical for the best online gaming experience and the GigaZone Gaming Championship showcases just that,” added Leo Anderson, Paul Bunyan Communications Digital Services Supervisor.

“There is no other gaming event like it anywhere I’ve seen. It’s unique to our area and we are very proud of our team for making it happen. We’re already looking forward to next year.” added Brian Bissonette, Paul Bunyan Communications Marketing Supervisor.

This Paul Bunyan Communications event includes the talents of many local partners including NLFX, Accidently Cool Games, Northern Amusement, the Sanford Center as well support from several regional and national partners.

For more information on the GigaZone Gaming Championship visit

Paul Bunyan Communications has the region’s largest and fastest all fiber optic network with over 5,100 square miles throughout most of Beltrami County and portions of Cass, Hubbard, Itasca, Koochiching, and St. Louis Counties. The Cooperative provides Broadband High Speed Internet Services including the GigaZone, digital and high definition television services, digital voice services, Residential and Business IT services, and is also northern Minnesota’s certified Apple Service Center.

Last Chance to Register! Border to Border Broadband: Transforming Minnesota

We’re getting excited – now is a good time to register…

October 23-24, 2018
Madden’s on Gull Lake – Brainerd, MN

There is still time to register for Border to Border Broadband: Transforming Minnesota!

In one week, Minnesota’s brightest and most experienced broadband thinkers and practitioners will gather at Madden’s on Gull Lake in Brainerd to learn from both formal presentations and active networking. This year’s conference will showcase and celebrate the transformative power of community passion fueled by high-speed broadband networks.

Check out the event agenda – there are so many reasons to attend. We hope that you do!

Register today!

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, or call 218-226-5449.

Virginia is looking at the Minnesota broadband model – so are others

Virginia Business recently wrote about Virginia’s need to do better with broadband…

The October issue of Virginia Business magazine has an article relating the challenges faced getting broadband into rural areas. As a professional in this field, I am concerned by the “end goal.” Sadly, the conclusion has got to be: too little — too late and not enough coordination. When the Telecom Czar states a goal of reaching unserved areas  (10 Mbps up/1 Mbps down speed) within seven to 10 years, we need to understand that this will put our rural communities even further behind their urban and suburban counterparts than they are today! Right now high-speed broadband connectivity is both a race and an essential service. How will Virginia losing this race to other states serve the commonwealth? The resulting loss of opportunities and diminished wellbeing for our rural citizens due to the lack of high-speed internet in the near future has been decidedly documented. We need to be focused on ensuring that Virginia does not lose this race to provide essential broadband connectivity.

They take a look at what’s happening in Minnesota (and other states)…

Minnesota: The state of Minnesota has set a 2022 state broadband goal of 25 Mb/3 Mb and a 2026 Minnesota broadband goal of 100 Mbps/20 Mbps. To this end, it initiated its Border to Border Broadband deployment effort under the Department of Economic Development. Most importantly, it has approved $24 million in funding for deployment efforts in both unserved and underserved areas.

It reminded me that last week I gave a presentation to the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, & Museums National Conference about the Minnesota broadband model. I’ll include it below. It was spurred from presentations I gave in Austin (TX) and Nashville on the report we did on Community return on public investment in broadband and talking to people about what we have in Minnesota that other people don’t have in their community. Sometimes you don’t know what you have until you talk to someone in another state, city or community.

FCC Commissioner Carr is in Dakotas and Minnesota (& Dakotas) for Senate 5G field hearing & rural broadband

From the FCC…

WASHINGTON—On Wednesday, October 10, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr will head to the Dakotas and Minnesota for events focused on 5G and rural broadband.  His trip will include broadband construction projects, smart agriculture deployments, telehealth projects, and manufacturing facilities.  He will cap off his trip by testifying at a Senate Commerce field hearing in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Prior to that, Commissioner Carr will be making the following visits:

Carr starts off the morning in Minnesota with a tour of Meridian Blue, a woman-owned tower company.  He’ll tour two tower sites in Eden Prairie and Shorewood, MN, including a rooftop broadband deployment and another at a water tower.  Then he heads to Alexandria, MN, to visit 3M for a tour of their advanced manufacturing facility.  Next, he will meet with Medtronic to learn about their connected healthcare projects.  Then, he will meet with the Farmers Mutual Telephone Co. to see a deployment project and visit with their small business customers to discuss the role of broadband in their communities.

Carr begins the day in North Dakota at Iteris, an applied informatics company in Grand Forks that uses big data to improve agriculture and transportation.  Following that, he goes to Emerado to visit Grand Sky, a testing and research site for drones and unmanned aerial systems.  Then the trip moves back to Minnesota, where Carr will visit Crystal Sugar, a smart-ag beet piling station in Alvarado.  Next, he heads back to North Dakota for a tour of a grain elevator and Midcontinent Communications’ 3.5 GHz CBRS testing sites in Thompson.  He’ll then head to Fargo to tour Midco’s new data center, and then will round out the day with a meeting to learn about an in-the-works project to create a fully autonomous farm in the Fargo area.

Carr kicks off the day in Yankton, South Dakota, with a visit to Ehresmann Engineering, a steel fabricating and consulting firm, which specializes in communication towers.  After that, he visits Sioux Falls Tower with Congresswoman Kristi Noem for a tower climb and meeting with tower companies.  Then, he’ll head to Rowena, SD, to learn more about the work associated with the broadcast television repacking process.  Then he’ll return to Sioux Falls to testify at a Senate Commerce field hearing convened by Chairman John Thune on “The Race to 5G: a View from the Field.”  Members of the media are invited to attend any of these events.  Contact Evan Swarztrauber at (202) 418-2261 or for more information.

Both gubernatorial candidates discuss broadband at forum in Willmar

Last ngith there was a 90 minute Gubernatorial Forum in Willmar with Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate Tim Walz and Republican candidate Jeff Johnson. Broadband came up.

Here’s what the Duluth News Tribune (and Pioneer Press) reports…

On the rural economic development barriers of access to broadband, quality child care and affordable housing, both candidates agreed on the need for government incentives to develop broadband access in rural areas.

Johnson said he didn’t like government competing with business, but he does support a state program “that provides incentives to the private sector to step up.”

Walz likened the need for broadband to rural electrification in the last century.