EVENT: Startup Pitch Night & Roundtable coming Nov 19 in Willmar MN

If you live near Willmar and have entrepreneurial or innovator tendencies, this might be an event for you. If you don’t live in the area, yet you have entrepreneurial or innovator tendencies or work with people who do, this might give you some good ideas. It comes from WorkUP, a coworking space in WIllmar…

All Startup Alumni, supporters and entrepreneurial fans are invited! This is your chance to hear and learn from a few of our Startup Bootcamp Alumni – two of them graduated recently and one of them went through a couple of years ago and is coming back to share an update. They’ll practice pitching their companies using concepts discovered in the workshop, and we’ll offer support, input and any assistance we can provide to help them be successful. Happy hour beverages and snacks will be provided. Don’t miss it!
Learn more

EVENT: MN Rural Broadband Coalition Meeting December 5, 2019

From the MN Broadband Coalition

Minnesota Broadband Coalition Meeting

Thursday, December 5, 2019
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
League of MN Cities – Boardroom
145 University Avenue West – St. Paul, MN 55103
Conference Call Option: 1-866-755-7677
Participant code: 591645

Agenda Coming Soon!

Please RSVP by replying to this email or Emily Murray to indicate attendance or absence.

EVENT: NTIA’s BroadbandUSA Practical Broadband Conversations Webinar Nov 20

An invitation from BroadbandUSA…

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

Topic: Building Digital Workforce Skills at the Local Level

Date:   Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Time:  2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET

Overview: A digitally skilled workforce is essential for the economic development of our nation’s communities. Companies of all sizes need employees that understand technology, whether it’s on the business or operational side of the organization. Join BroadbandUSA to hear how local leaders are building partnerships between governments, businesses, nonprofits and education to help residents attain the skills needed to thrive in a digital economy.

Speakers:

  • David Keyes, Digital Equity Program Manager, City of Seattle Information Technology
  • Stacey Wedlake, Research Coordinator and Analyst, Technology and Social Change Group (TASCHA) at University of Washington Information School
  • Shonna Dorsey, Senior Business Systems Consultant, Mutual of Omaha
  • Kagan Coughlin, Co-Founder, Trustee Base Camp Coding Academy

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: Libraries in…Laundromats? Webinar December 4

From MN Library Services…

Join us for an upcoming webinar on Libraries in Laundromats – Bringing Learning Spaces to Ordinary Places.

When: Wednesday, December 4, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Presenters: Adam Echelman and Lily Ross from Libraries Without Borders

The Wash and Learn Initiative, coordinated by Libraries Without Borders in partnership with local public libraries, brings technology and library programming to people where they are – in laundromats!

During this webinar, you will learn about the mission of the Wash and Learn Initiative; what makes literacy programs in laundromats unique; and how librarians in Minnesota are engaging laundromat patrons through programming. Webinar attendees will walk away with a newfound understanding of how to bring learning spaces to ordinary places.

Register now for Libraries in Laundromats. Please contact Hannah Buckland (651-582-8792) if you have questions.

Feasibility study is first step to better broadband in Greenwood MN (St Louis County)

The Timber Jay does a nice job detailing a recent (Oct 29) meeting in Greenwood Township to discuss bringing better broadband to the community. I wasn’t there but it sounds like meetings I have attended in the past. If you live in an area with good broadband and you have any interest in knowing how the other half lives and/or if you’re a policymaker, this article strikes me as a good example of what people deal with in some rural areas….

[From Frontier] Bohler was one of over a half dozen local elected officials and representatives of telecommunications companies and state agencies who came to speak at a roundtable-style meeting here on Tuesday to discuss telephone and internet issues in the township. About 50 area residents filled the town hall at the Oct. 29 meeting.
Frontier currently supplies DSL level service in many areas of the township. “Most homes can get 10 mbps service,” said Bohler, “or a little higher if they are near a terminal node.”
For rural telecommunications providers, it comes down to numbers.
“Folks here are spread out,” said Bohler, noting that raises the cost per household for providing upgraded service. “State funding is vital in making the projects economically viable,” he said.
Fiber optic cable has already been installed in several of the more populated areas of the township, but at present, only the town hall has been connected to the broadband-level service. This fiber, installed by the Northeast Service Coop, stretches down Echo Point as far as the Bois Forte Reservation, down Birch Point, Moccasin Point, and toward Frazer Bay. But whether that fiber could be used to connect to individual homes and businesses in those areas is still an open question.
Audience members stressed the need for reliable service at speeds that would allow residents to work from home, having the township apply for state or federal grant funding to get a project started, and making sure the quality of internet service is sufficient for the needs of area businesses.

So much to unpack here – and I do this for readers who don’t live in these areas. First, he says “most homes can get 10 Mbps service” – I assume this means 10 Mbps down and likely 1 Mbps up. For federal funding that 10/1 speed is a benchmark. For comparison, the MN state speed goal for 2026 is 100/20.

Second, “State funding is vital in making the projects economically viable” – no explanation required but worth highlighting.

Third, “Fiber optic cable has already been installed in several of the more populated areas of the township, but at present, only the town hall has been connected to the broadband-level service.” How can a community thrive when they are looking at 10/1 access and their neighbors have fiber? Where do you buy a house, start a business or plan your vacation? Rural broadband may be expensive but the cost of not getting it may be higher in the long run.

In Greenwood, the commitment to move forward has been made…

Speakers all agreed that conducting a feasibility study was the most important first step. That study helps to determine how many residences and businesses desire high-speed service, how much they can afford to pay, and exactly where they are all located in the township. The study is also a prerequisite for any request for any kind of funding application.
Such a study is about to begin, thanks to the efforts of the local Blandin Broadband Committee, which is being led in large part by Greenwood residents Joanne, John, and Kate Bassing. The township has committed to help fund the feasibility study, which ensures that data on Greenwood’s needs and residents will be part of the study. The Blandin Foundation is providing matching funds for this study and will host a kickoff event for the feasibility study on Nov. 8 in Aurora.

The article goes on to detail potential pricing or at least factors that might impact pricing and talks about what broadband leaders are doing in communities in the area to make this happen. The costs are staggering (“$20,000 – $25,000 per mile to bury fiber optic cable, but that cost could double if the ground has bedrock”) and the volunteer hours are long. But the plan moves forward!

Over 4,000 Attend 2019 GigaZone Gaming Championship in Bemidji

Fun news from Paul Bunyan

An estimated crowd of over 4,000 attended the 4th annual GigaZone Gaming Championship on Saturday, November 2 at the Sanford Center George W. Neilson Convention Center. The event featured free gaming, numerous gaming 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.

Hunter Branson of Duluth won the 4th annual GigaZone Gaming Championship and the top prize of $500.  Elsa Overland of Grand Rapids made it from the losers bracket all the way back to the grand final to secure second place and $400. A total of 64 of northern Minnesota’s best Super Smash Bros. Ultimate players competed on the main stadium stage in the GigaZone Championship Arena.

In addition to the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Touranment, there was several other open tournaments including Fortnite, Mario Kart 8, Madden 20, and Overwatch 3v3, plus high score competitions in Beat Saber Virtual Reality, Ms Pac-Man, Galaga, and Donkey Kong.  There was also two Magic the Gathering Booster Drafts, Admission was free and lots of door prizes including an Xbox One X with $75 Game Stop gift certificate won by Nicholas Krotzer of Akeley and a Occulus Qwest Virtual Reality system won by Kent Wolback of Bemidji.

“It has been incredible to see the attendance! There is a large gaming community in our area and the 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.

“This event has garnered national attention. 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 www.gigazonegaming.com

GigaZone Gaming Championship Set for November 2

So exciting! We learned about the GigaZone Gaming Championship at the MN broadband conference last month and now it’s nearly here…

Largest Esports Stadium Style Gaming Event in Northern Minnesota with over $5,000 in cash and prizes

(Bemidji, MN) (September 23, 2019) – The 4th annual GigaZone Gaming Championship is set for Saturday, November 2 at the Sanford Center George W. Neilson Convention Center. The event features free gaming on various console and arcade games, numerous tournaments, virtual reality, door prizes, and more.  All the fun is free.  Over 3,500 attended the event last year.

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 is run off a single residential GigaZone Internet connection.

This year’s main stage tournament will feature Super Smash Brothers: Ultimate on the esports stadium style stage in the GigaZone Championship Arena.  In addition to the main stage, there will be tournaments of Overwatch, Fortnite, Mario Kart 8, Madden 20, Magic the Gathering Booster Drafts, and more.  Registration for all tournaments will start at the Sanford Center November 2 at 10 a.m. and go until full.

“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!” 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 Technology Experience Manager.

“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. There is no catch, everyone and anyone gets to game for free!” 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 as support from several regional and national partners.

For more information on the GigaZone Gaming Championship visit www.gigazonegaming.com