Webinar Jan 11 (today): Broadband Under the Community Reinvestment Act

A Federal Reserve webinar today (Jan 11) from 2-3:00 CST…

Just as broadband access plays a critical role in our lives, access to broadband has become critically essential in community development—education and workforce development, health, housing, small business development and access to financial services. The ability to access the internet is an important tool for workers to use to find and keep jobs in both urban and rural markets. Broadband access lags in many population segments, including low-income and rural communities.

Under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), infrastructure investment includes facilitating the construction, expansion, improvement, maintenance or operation of essential infrastructure or facilities for health services, education, public safety, public services, industrial parks or affordable housing. Broadband is included as a form of infrastructure investment—an essential community service.

This Connecting Communities webinar will highlight possible opportunities for financial institutions to receive CRA consideration and take advantage of new opportunities to help close the digital divide across communities and improve economic stability.

Speakers include:

  • Jeanne Milliken Bonds, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
  • Jordana Barton, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
  • Adrian Franco, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
  • Chelsea Cruz, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
  • Yolanda Davila, BBVA Compass

Senator Smith makes broadband a priority while talking to the Range

I posted notes from the meeting – but wanted to archive mainstream coverage of the event too. Here’s what SouthernMinn has to say about Senator Smith’s visit to the Range over the weekend…

Smith said her broad priority in Congress is an overall successful economy for the Range and rural Minnesota. There’s many folds to that goal, including rising health care costs, the opioid drug epidemic and rural broadband.

As lieutenant governor Smith was among the state’s biggest advocates for pushing the expansion of rural broadband. After visiting steelworkers in Eveleth she hosted a panel discussion in Mountain Iron, a rural broadband community, to discuss the successes and challenges.

“If you don’t have access to internet today, it’s like being disconnected from the 21st Century,” she said.

Last year Smith championed two major programs that provided $500,000 for school boards and $34 million for local communities to expand access. The programs were infused with an additional $26 million in state funding to provide grants for municipalities to build or expand broadband, and centered around public-private partnerships.

In the Senate, Smith will have an opportunity to look at the broadband issue on a nationwide scope.

Senator Tina Smith hearing from the Broadband frontlines in Mountain Iron MN

Today Senator Smith met held an open round-table with a handful of broadband experts in Mountain Iron – about 25 people showed up to participate. The conversation wasn’t shocking but important. It’s always good to hear from folks on the wrong side of the front-lines. Senator Smith noted that broadband is absolutely necessary for 21st century economy.

Attendees talked about what a difference broadband could make to small businesses, home-based businesses, education and recruitment. One attendee said that he sits in the parking lot of Gilbert City Hall to upload his videos, which get millions of views. Another noted that the schools had a one (iPad) one students policy but that it felt discriminatory to the kids who don’t have broadband at home and those kids might live just a mile or two out of town.

The meeting was held at the Northeast Service Cooperative – home to middle mile fiber for the region. There’s hope and frustration with being so close and yet so far away to having fiber to the home. The communities are trying to find ways to get last mile providers into the market. There’s also frustration with the belief that some of these areas have service, when in practice people say they don’t have the broadband they need.

There is a need for public funding for broadband – in partnership with private investment. An announcement is expected (Monday) on federal infrastructure funding; people are cautiously optimistic. Funding is helpful but there is concern about the details. For example, a tiered service with different speeds for rural vs urban areas is not acceptable. There were suggestions to make sure that federal money is spent on networks that are built for the future and on streamlining process (quicker permitting and Dig Once policies) that would speed builds and encourage builds that serve entire areas – not just towns, leaving the outskirts unserved.

Affordability was emphasized, especially in terms of added costs such as data caps.

Mostly it was amazing on a cold Saturday with just a few days’ notice to have a full room people excited to talk about broadband.

Foundation for Rural Service hosts Youth Tour for kids interested in broadband

I learn about the Youth Tour from Paul Bunyan Communications. (More on that soon.) Apparently there’s a broadband camp for teens. Or as the Foundation for Rural Service puts it…

Every summer, the FRS Youth Tour brings together high school students from across rural America to visit our nation’s capital and learn about rural telecommunications. The tour provides a forum for teens to meet and interact with their peers from other rural communities, as well as, key legislative, regulatory and government figures. Since its inception in 1995, the youth tour has hosted thousands of students.

The event draws from member communities…

NTCA member companies can sponsor a student from their local community. FRS leaves the selection of the youth tour participant completely up to the telco. The program offers sponsoring companies an excellent public relations opportunity by increasing their connections with local schools and the community in the rural areas they serve.

NTCA member companies can also sponsor a chaperone to attend the Youth Tour. FRS relies upon the support of chaperones to assist us with ensuring that the students have a safe and productive experience. Serving as a chaperone is a wonderful opportunity for a staff member of your organization.

I learned about it from Paul Bunyan because they sent me a press release. Folks in their area might contact them for more info. Folks in other areas might contact their local provider to see if they have an y programs that might help get a kid to DC. (Or if other providers want to send me info I’m happy to post here.)

Here’s the info from Paul Bunyan

Paul Bunyan Communications 2018 Youth Tour Essay Contest

Chance for 16-17 year old high school students to win a free trip to Washington D.C

(Bemidji, MN) (January 3, 2018) – Area High School Students age 16 o 17 are encouraged to enter the Paul Bunyan Communications Essay Contest for a chance to attend the 2018 Youth Tour in Washington, D.C. June 2-6, with all expenses paid by Paul Bunyan Communications.

Students interested in attending the Youth Tour need to submit a short essay, no more than 500 words in length, on why they would like to attend the Youth Tour. Students must be 16 or 17 years of age and in high school with their parent/guardian a member of Paul Bunyan Communications Cooperative.

Entries can be dropped off at the Paul Bunyan Communications office in Bemidji or Grand Rapids, or they can mailed to:

Paul Bunyan Communications Essay Contest
1831 Anne St. NW
Bemidji, MN 56601

The deadline for entries is Friday, March 16.

The trip features a comprehensive overview of the telecommunications industry, including careers in telecom, the critical role telecommunications plays in rural America, and how legislative and regulatory decisions affect the industry.  The tour allows youth to meet with members of Congress who represent rural constituents.  They also participate in educational sessions about the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  Students visit some of the nation’s most historic sites, including Mount Vernon, the Smithsonian Museums, and a beautiful night tour of our Washington D.C.

“We hope that by providing our youth with telecommunications services comparable to those found in urban areas, as well as exposing them to cultural and educational opportunities, such as the FRS Youth Tour, our youth will remain in and become active members in their rural communities,” said Brian Bissonette, Paul Bunyan Communications Marketing Supervisor.

The Foundation for Rural Service is dedicated to informing and to improving the quality of life throughout rural America.  Each year, it organizes the Youth Tour, designed to educate rural youth about the telecommunications industry and the federal political process.  The FRS is a subsidiary of the NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association of which Paul Bunyan Communications is a member.

This is the 22nd consecutive year that Paul Bunyan Communications has participated in sending a local high school student to the Youth Tour.

 

Jan 11 – Federal Reserve Webinar on Community Reinvestment Act for Broadband

Looks like a good session…

Just as broadband access plays a critical role in our lives, access to broadband has become critically essential in community development—education and workforce development, health, housing, small business development and access to financial services. The ability to access the internet is an important tool for workers to use to find and keep jobs in both urban and rural markets. Broadband access lags in many population segments, including low-income and rural communities.

Under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), infrastructure investment includes facilitating the construction, expansion, improvement, maintenance or operation of essential infrastructure or facilities for health services, education, public safety, public services, industrial parks or affordable housing. Broadband is included as a form of infrastructure investment—an essential community service.

This Connecting Communities webinar will highlight possible opportunities for financial institutions to receive CRA consideration and take advantage of new opportunities to help close the digital divide across communities and improve economic stability.

Speakers include:

  • Jeanne Milliken Bonds, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
  • Jordana Barton, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
  • Adrian Franco, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
  • Chelsea Cruz, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
  • Yolanda Davila, BBVA Compass

Register for this session at the Connecting Communities® website. Participation is free, but preregistration is required.

Session Date: Thursday, January 11, 2018
Session Times: Hawaii: 9:00 a.m.; Alaska: 11:00 a.m.; Pacific: 12:00 p.m.; Mountain: 1:00 p.m.; Central: 2:00 p.m.; Eastern: 3:00 p.m.

The Connecting Communities© webinar series is a Federal Reserve System initiative intended to provide a national audience with timely information on emerging and important community and economic development topics. The webinar series complements existing Federal Reserve community development outreach initiatives that are conducted through Reserve Bank regional offices and at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, D.C. All past sessions are in theConnecting Communities archive. For more information about this series, send us an e-mail at communities@stls.frb.org

#MobileOnly Challenge to Kickoff in January 2018, Protesting FCC’s Plan to Lower Broadband Quality Standards

This is an interesting idea. I would have to choose my day carefully…

December 18, 2017 (Washington, DC) — Ten public interest organizations focused on high-quality broadband for all Americans announced today that they will be leading a #MobileOnly Challenge in January and asking Americans to participate. The Challenge will call attention to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) proposal to lower broadband standards and consider an internet connection on a single mobile device the same as a “fixed” broadband connection at someone’s home.

 

FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel have already committed to take the #MobileOnly challenge in January and encouraged others to do the same. Commissioner Clyburn stated: “I am ready and excited to participate in the #MobileOnly challenge. Contrary to those who claim that mobile broadband services provide effective competitive pressure on fixed broadband providers, promoting deployment of mobile broadband services alone is not sufficient to bridge digital divides in underserved rural and urban communities. By standing together through this movement, we will demonstrate why it is so essential for all Americans to have access to a robust fixed broadband connection.”

 

The public interest leaders of the #MobileOnly Challenge include: Next Century Cities, Public Knowledge, New America’s Open Technology Institute, the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), the Schools, Health, and Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, Mobile Citizen, and EveryoneOn.

 

The #MobileOnly Challenge, which will run January 1 through January 31, 2018, will have participants spend one day accessing the internet via only their mobile device — foregoing desktop devices or laptops with fixed connections — and to document their experience using the hashtag #MobileOnly. Individuals, families, and organizations can pledge to take the challenge, commit to a day in January that they will go mobile only, and learn more at MobileOnlyChallenge.com.

 

The Challenge seeks to draw attention to the significant and numerous limitations of mobile-only service that many Americans face daily. It also will highlight just one way FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is making it harder for Americans to get the high-quality internet access that is now critical in daily life.

 

“A home connection to fast, affordable, and reliable broadband is essential for families across the country,” says Deb Socia, Executive Director of Next Century Cities. “Lowering the broadband standard would prevent Americans from accessing the full economic, educational, and social benefits of the internet, and would exacerbate the existing digital divide. We encourage everyone to take the #MobileOnly Challenge, and spend a day experiencing what so many Americans face and what Chairman Pai thinks is acceptable.”

 

The FCC’s proposal, outlined in the Section 706 Notice of Inquiry, released earlier in 2017, would lower the standard for what is considered acceptable broadband access. Chairman Pai’s plan suggests that Americans who have access to 10/1 Mbps speeds over mobile internet service could be considered equally “served” as households that have access to 25/3 Mbps, fixed connection broadband, which is the current broadband standard.

Blandin Webinar Archive Dec 14: Emerging trends in Minnesota Tele-Health

Thanks to those who joined. It was a great session…

The Online Health Care Experience

Listen and learn what is happening in three of Minnesota’s leading health care networks around the trend towards tele-health.  Care leaders from Essentia, Altru and Allina will discuss the importance of home tele-health care for the delivery of health care to rural communities and residents.  Learn about the importance of tele-health services to the vitality of rural health care providers.  Increase your understanding about the connection between good rural broadband and rural health care. Invite your own local health care providers to join us for this webinar.

More handouts from Allina Health