EVENT Oct 27: East Range Broadband Feasibility Study Presentation

An invitation from the  East Range Broadband group…

Over the past two years, the East Range has worked on a regional project to understand what we need to do to improve our broadband. Now, it’s time for our broadband consultant, Diane Kruse of NEO Connect, to share the results of her work. The data she shares will give us the necessary information to make a case for stronger service and apply for state and federal grants.

Join us 10:30 on Tuesday, October 27 using this Zoom link!

EVENT Oct 20: Celebrate ReConnect Program Award with CTC

CTC has been awarded a grant in the amount of $3,061,502 to continue to bring broadband to rural Minnesota that are unserved today. Yay! The award will be granted by the United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and RUS Administrator Chad Rupe – via Zoom and we’re all invited!

ReConnect Program https://reconnect.usda.gov
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cordially invites you to celebrate an important investment in high-speed internet broadband infrastructure in Rural Minnesota with United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue

Date: Oct 10, 2020 3pm

Location: “Zoom” Teleconference: https://usfs.zoomgov.com/j/16194206399

Please RSVP no later than Oct 19 to: Ashley.Willits@usda.gov

EVENT: Oct 17: Kairos Alive virtual intergenerational dance party!

A number of people have enjoyed Kairos Alive at the Broadband 2020 conference. So I wanted to share this invitation for a virtual dance break over the weekend. (And remember you can catch them at the conference again from 11am to 1pm on Monday October 19.)

Please join us and the American Swedish Institute on Saturday, October 17th from 10 – 11 AM CDT for a virtual intergenerational dance party, because a dance party is a great way to start off a Saturday!

Curated by Kairos Alive! dancers/singer/actors, we’ll dance together on the virtual dance floor. This event is designed for all ages and abilities and features local musicians Kevin Washington, Vladimir Garrido Biagetti, Tom Johnson and a special Minnesota Orchestra guest – David and Rosemary Good Fellow, Kai Rocke.  Join with your family and friends for music, dance, and storytelling.

The dance party is FREE but requires advanced registration with ASI. Be sure to sign up BEFORE 8 am the day of the event to receive instructions on how to join us online.  REGISTER HERE: American Swedish Institute

We look forward to seeing you on the virtual dance floor!

MN Broadband 2020: Connected We Stand – Planning your week Oct 12-16 daily agendas

You are invited to join the Blandin Broadband crew for week two of the monthlong dispersed broadband conference. It’s a little less intense this week but we have events every day. We won’t take attendance but we’d love to see you there. It’s free and open!

There are three types of activities:

  • Digital Office Hours (11:45pm) am-1pm) every day: Join us for casual conversation and fellowship. Each day we have a host, who will give a brief presentation at 11:15 followed by more conversation
  • Broadband 101 (1:00-1:45pm) every day: a national broadband consultant or vendor will present on their area of expertise
  • Oct 15: (3-4pm) there will be a special workshop with Molly O’Leary from NTCA
  • Oct 15: (4:30-6pm): Coleman’s Happy Hour

The complete agenda (with links for more info and links to register and/or login) is below. Remember you can also get info from the Blandin Foundation Conference webpage.

Hope you see you this week!!

Monday, October 12

Tuesday, October 13

Wednesday, October 14

Thursday, October 15

Friday, October 16

MN Broadband Task Force meeting: notes on the upcoming report

The MN Broadband Task Force spent the morning at the Blandin Foundation Broadband 2020 conference. They spent an extra hour after that meeting mostly discussing the upcoming broadband task force report that they have begun to write.

They showed an outline of the report and each subcommittee reported on their thoughts and work so far – including mention of the various recommendations. There is some agreement, some disagreement and a lot of overlap on the recommendations made by each of the three subcommittees:

  • Digital Inclusion
  • Minnesota Model
  • Barriers to Technology

The big agreement is to ask for more money for future grants. There wasn’t agreement, which may just reflect no discussion, on whether to recommend that for base funding or not.

A big disagreement is updating the speed goals. Some thought they should stay where they are because providers have already been working on grant projects based on those goals. Some thought that the 25/3 goal is realistically obsolete since the next potential round of funding they are seeking is 2022 and the 25/3 speed goal is “by 2022.” Some thought that 25/2 was adequate for one person at home but when you get to two kids in school and at least one parent working from home; those speeds did not suffice.

There are minimal talk about changing the 2026 goal of 100/20. The real focus for proponents is changing the upload speed. Some people pointed out that COVID has shown us that upload speeds matter most for productivity.

Also there was a lot of talk about how to talk about these recommendation to reach consensus. Many people seemed to think that if there was no consensus that they would leave it ASIS.

The next Task Force meeting is scheduled for November 10 – and apparently Governor Walz will be there.

EVENT Oct 8: Smart City Futures (online)

Want to learn more about the Smart Cities Movement? You can check out Smart City Futures. It’s an online conference that will look at the following:

  • Public-private collaboration to maintain and rebuild our cities.
  • How data, innovation and technology can make American cities more resilient.
  • How to build broad access to digital infrastructure that creates more opportunity for every American and keeps America competitive.
  • Why the smart cities movement has only just begun — and how you can benefit.
  • How cities, utility operators and companies are sharing, integrating and governing data to improve the quality of life of urban residents.
  • Securing the smart city: essential tools and practices for safety and cybersecurity.
  • How to ensure America regains a global lead in building the 5G networks that are essential to future geopolitical and industrial competitiveness.

First date is Oct 8 (which overlaps with the MN Broadband 2020) but there are other dates coming up on Nov 12 and Dec 3.

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Meeting Oct 7: Agenda

The next Broadband Task Force is scheduled during the fall broadband conference Broadband 2020: Connected We Stand. The Task Force will be with the Broadband conference through the morning. Then the conference ends and the Task Force will reconvene at 1:30.

There are a couple ways to approach attending:

Below the agenda from the Office of Broadband Development.

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

October 7, 2020

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

(Note the 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. portion of the meeting will be held jointly with Blandin Conference

Webex/Conference Call 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.:
Dial-in: 1-619-377-3319 or 1-888-742-5095, Passcode 3249482049

Meeting link:


Meeting Number: 130 631 1709

Password: DEED


Joint Meeting with Blandin Foundation Fall Conference: Broadband 2020: Connected We Stand

9:00 a.m. – 9:20 a.m.  Welcome

9:20 a.m. – 10:20 a.m. Border-to-Border Broadband Development Fund Grantee Presentations Hear about how Minnesota broadband grants impacted communities

10:20 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Breakout Sessions with Task Force Subcommittees

10:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Report Back and Task Force Thank You

11:00 a.m. — 12:00 p.m. From Digital Infrastructure to Transformation: Leveraging Broadband for Community Economic Development

Roberto Gallardo, Ph.D., Director, Purdue Center for Regional Development; and C&RE Specialist, Purdue Extension, W Lafayette, IN This presentation will discuss some digital applications and uses to help communities leverage this technology to improve their quality of lives.

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Break

Please join via WebEx (instructions above) for the 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. portion of the meeting:

1:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from September 8, 2020 Meeting

1:45 p.m. – 2:20 p.m.  Subgroup Report Out

2:20 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, November Meeting Plans, Wrap-up


EVENT: Broadband Communities Summit goes virtual Sep 22-24; and we have a few golden tickets

The Broadband Communities Summit is the leading event for Broadband Systems Operators. That means it’s a great place to learn about new technologies, deployments and policies from the folks on the ground. There are multiple tracks including a few that really speak to most Blandin on Broadband readers: a special track dedicate to rural broadband with an emphasis on funding and an economic development track full of case studies and good ideas.

You can check out the agenda online. Here are a few of my person highlights:

  • Models for Successful Public-Private and Public-Public Partnerships
  • The ‘Sausage Making’ of Fiber Financing – How it Really Works
  • The Great Reset: Community-Based Ecosystems in the COVID-19 Era
  • Apps for Rural America: Putting Better Broadband to Better Uses

Check out the agenda – you may have your own favorites. And if you do, please let us know. Broadband Communities has been kind enough to share a few VIP tickets with us to share. Contact me atreacy@treacyinfo.com and I’ll hook you up. (While supplies last.)

Growth & Justice’s Equity Blueprint Breakfast on Broadband Notes

Earlier this week, I attended a Growth and Justice webinar on broadband. I suspected they would share they notes and they have…

As part of our Recipes for Success series, Growth & Justice hosted a virtual Broadband Breakfast yesterday, where we were joined by Diane Wells of the MN Department of Broadband Development. Diane gave us a detailed update on the state of broadband in Minnesota; you can look at her slideshow and data here. If you missed the event and would like to watch the recording, you can access it here. If you are interested in registering for our next Blueprint Breakfast on September 30th focused on healthcare, you can register for it here! Additionally, the Blandin Foundation’s Annual Broadband Conference is happening over Zoom from October 6—29. Talk about broadband access, participate in sessions with experts, hear from keynote speakers and network and collaborate with others interested in broadband! You can read more and register on their event’s page. In related news, don’t forget to take the MN Rural Broadband Coalition’s Speed Test! You can access the test here

EVENT Sep 16: Smart Agriculture: Driving Innovation in Rural America

An invitation from BroadbandUSA…

You are invited to join NTIA’s BroadbandUSA Practical Broadband Conversations Webinar 

Topic: Smart Agriculture: Driving Innovation in Rural America

Date:   Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Time:  2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET

Overview: Farmers and ranchers use smart technologies to improve yields, reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and improve decision making. Join BroadbandUSA on September 16, 2020, to take a deep dive into the technologies being implemented to further these precision agriculture techniques. Speakers will also provide an update on the Precision Ag Connectivity Taskforce, co-chaired by USDA and the Federal Communications Commission, as well as an overview of the latest innovations from the Global City Teams Challenge Smart Agriculture and Rural SuperCluster, which encourages collaboration on innovative ag tech and rural projects.


  • Chad Rupe, Administrator, Rural Utility Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Dennis Buckmaster, Dean’s Fellow for Digital Agriculture, Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Purdue University; Co-Chair, GCTC Smart Agriculture and Rural SuperCluster
  • Megan Nelson, Economic Analyst, American Farm Bureau Federation


  • Jean Rice, Senior Broadband Program Specialist, BroadbandUSA, NTIA
  • Karen Archer Perry, Senior Policy Analyst, BroadbandUSA, NTIA
    Please pre-register for the webinar using this registration link. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
    Want to access past Practical Broadband Conversations webinars? Visit our webinar archives for past presentations, transcripts and audio recordings.

EVENT Sep 16: Recipes for Success: Infrastructure

An invitation from Growth & Justice

Join us at the next Minnesota Equity Blueprint Breakfast September 16, from 8 to 8:30 a.m. to talk about broadband in MN. As internet access is needed now more than ever for school, work, health care, and social activities, we’ll hear from Diane Wells from the Office of Broadband Development about the state of broadband in MN.

You can register for the event here and read up on the Blueprint infrastructure chapter here. Because it’s officially apple season, we’re making baked apple pancakes. Try this recipe from the Star Tribune. There will be 15-minute breakout discussions immediately after the event for those who want further discussion.

EVENT Sep 12: CODE SWITCH – hackfest

I have participated in hackfasts in the past. It’s a great way to get inovlved, meet new people and stretch your tech and/or collboaration muscles. The event is online this year, which opens up the door to everyone regardless of location. Here’s more info from Code Switch

Code Switch is a civic hackathon in which community leverage data and technology to change our community.

Code Switch includes techies AND non-techies: from developers to entrepreneurs, artists, educators, business professionals, concerned residents, everyday people and more! Projects can be technical or non-technical. Ideas and solutions can be proposed by anybody (yes, anybody). You don’t need a detailed plan, only a desire for change.

We believe every person has a role to play in solving our community’s toughest problems, and CODE SWITCH is that OPPORTUNITY.

This year, we are redesigning our annual hackathon. We will launch a digital platform where you can submit your ideas, form a team and work on your projects. On September 12, the National Civic Day of Hacking, we will kick off Code Switch, with teams forming and starting to work on projects. In late October, we will celebrate and award project support resources to top projects, and convene a conversation with local and industry leaders on ways to continue furthering equity and justice.

MN Broadband Task Force Sep 2020 Notes: Satellite, mapping, CARES and report talk

The MN Broadband Task Force met today. They heard from Steve Hill from the Satellite Communications and Broadcasting Association (SBCA) and from Brent Legg and Ashley Hitt, at Connected Nation about mapping; they also got updates from the subcommittees. You can see the video below. It’s MacGuyver at it’s best with my phone streaming the computer so you may get background noise.

Steve from SBCA talked about the upgraded satellites from 2017 and then the more recent push for lower geo satellites. They are not fixed satellites they rotate with the Earth so the idea is that they will be more accessible and closer. They need to launch 12,000 satellites for full coverage in the US. And unfortunately while download speeds may increase significantly, the upload speeds are not expected to surpass 3-10 Mbps. If you are interested in being a beta tester for satellite, you can sign up from their website. (I wasn’t able to find the link but I found an article that confirmed the opportunity.

The Connected Nation folks gave a demo of their most recent interactive maps. They noted that Minnesota is the state with the longest ruining mapping relationship with Connected Nation. That means they get good engagement from providers and providers are used to working with them. Also providers that do not help with mapping are not eligible for Border to Border state grants; nor may they challenge projects.

Connected Nation works with providers and validates the info they received so they encourage anyone with issues to contact them or the Office Development and they will follow up. They recognize the limitation of the current 477 Form, which counts any census tract with one served household as a served area. The next iteration of the national mapping will not do that but it won’t be ready for quite a while.

Finally, the subcommittees gave updates:

  • Digital Inclusion: The will be collecting stories for the annual reporting with Ann Treacy (me). They have been refining the recommendation they have already mentioned in earlier meetings. They have especially working on finding for schools and libraries.
  • Minnesota Model: Funding is the top priority since Minnesota already has a model that many states envy and currently no funding for 2021. They have decided not to introduce new speed goals because there are no many communities that don’t meet the present goals and creating a new goal would leave them falling farther behind.
  • Barriers to Technology: They are also interested in stories to determine where the barriers and successes are. They want to make sure to tell the story of cooperative providers in Minnesota and they too are grappling with the discussion of speed goals.

There was also a quick discussion on the use of CARES Act funding for broadband. Some counties and local governments are using CARES money for broadband but the State isn’t because they are reading the guidelines that say the projects must be completed by the end of the year and that would be very difficult to accomplish. Some States are using CARES funding for broadband.

EVENT Sep 3: Sen. Tina Smith talks with MN Education Advocates, Parents, Students on Challenges

From Senator Smith’s Office…

U.S. Sen. Tina Smith to Hold Virtual Discussion with Education Advocates, Parents, Students on Education Challenges as School Year Begins  

Watch Roundtable Discussion of Impact of Digital Divide,

Other Barriers to Distance Learning via Livestream

MINNESOTA [09/02/20]—On Thursday, September 3, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) will be joined via Zoom by education advocates, parents, and students from across Minnesota to discuss how the “digital divide” adds to the unprecedented challenges families face to stay connected as students return to school during the coronavirus pandemic.

You can view a Facebook livestream of the discussion here

At 1 p.m: Sen. Smith and the other participants will discuss the creative solutions that have been developed across the state to keep students connected and deal with other barriers to learning as the new school year begins.  

To deal with the digital divide, Sen. Smith has pushed to ensure broadband internet services are available across Minnesota, and has had her bipartisan measure to expand broadband services signed into law.  She has also supported $375 million in new funding for telecommunications-related programs as part of the major bipartisan coronavirus relief package passed earlier this year.

WHO: U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, education advocates, parents and students from across Minnesota

WHAT:  Virtual roundtable on how the digital divide, other barriers impact learning during pandemic

WHEN: Thursday, September 3 at 1 p.m.

WHERE:  View Facebook livestream of the discussion here

EVENT Sep 8: Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

Meeting scheduled for next week…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

September 8, 2020

10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 

Webex/Conference Call

Meeting link:


Dial-in: 1-619-377-3319 or 1-888-742-5095, Passcode 3249482049

Meeting number: 130 177 6750

10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.  Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from August 4, 2020 Meeting

10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Satellite Communications and Broadcasting Association (SBCA) Steve Hill, Executive Director

11:15 a.m. – 11:20 a.m. Break

11:20 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.  Minnesota Mapping Presentation

Brent Legg and Ashley Hitt, Connected Nation

11:50 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Discussion of Report Writing Process, Assignment of Writers

12:00 p.m. – 12:25 p.m. Subgroup Updates and Identification of Information Needed to Complete Draft Recommendations and Report Content

12:25 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, October Meeting Plans, Wrap-up