Webinar Archive – Leveraging CAF II Dollars to Bring World-Class Broadband to your Community

Thanks to all who participated today:

And the description:

Bill Coleman will talk about all you need to know about CAF II and how it effects your community based on his recent report, Impact of CAF II-funded Networks: Lessons from Two Rural Minnesota Exchanges Left Unserved.

Leveraging CAF II Dollars to Bring World-Class Broadband to your Community
Thursday, July 19, 2018 03:00 PM

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Webinar July 19 – Leveraging CAF II Dollars to Bring World-Class Broadband to your Community

Bill Coleman will talk about all you need to know about CAF II and how it effects your community based on his recent report, Impact of CAF II-funded Networks: Lessons from Two Rural Minnesota Exchanges Left Unserved.

Leveraging CAF II Dollars to Bring World-Class Broadband to your Community
Thursday, July 19, 2018 03:00 PM
Register now!

The CAF II program is designed to spur broadband development in unserved, high-cost rural areas and will infuse $2 billion into broadband projects that make service of at least 10 megabits per second (mbps) download and 1 mbps upload available to more than 3.6 million homes and businesses across America by 2020. To date, four companies (CenturyLink, Consolidated Communications, Frontier Communications, and Windstream Communications) in rural Minnesota have received funding to bring Internet service to 170,355 rural homes and businesses.

Using GIS base maps and a GPS-enabled camera, lead researcher Bill Coleman of Mahtomedi-based Community Technology Advisors, conducted field research to identify CAF II-funded broadband equipment in two rural Minnesota communities, Lindstrom and Braham, MN.

After mapping available speeds to end customers based on their distance from the broadband-fed equipment, Coleman found that, even after CAF II investment, the majority of land within these two exchanges will have access to speeds less that Minnesota’s 2022 state broadband goal of 25/3 mbps. These improvements will fall severely short of Minnesota’s 2026 goal of 100/20 mbps.

So what does that mean for your community? Join the conversation to find out.

Free Webinar – : Statewide Strategies for Rural Digital Inclusion – July 18

Looks like something that might interest some readers…

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

 Topic: Statewide Strategies for Rural Digital Inclusion


Date:   Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Time:  2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET


Overview: This month, the BroadbandUSA webinar will focus on statewide strategies to promote broadband adoption and use in rural communities. Speakers will highlight the role of state governments, libraries and university extension programs in planning and executing these strategies. The speakers will also discuss the role of broadband adoption in rural economic and workforce development, as well as approaches to facilitate broadband use and improve digital skills.




  • Rachel Welborn, Associate Director, Southern Rural Development Center
  • Amy Huffman, Research and Policy Specialist, The Broadband Infrastructure Office, North Carolina Department of Information Technology
  • Susan McVey, Director, Oklahoma Department of Libraries
  • Moderator: Emy Tseng, Senior Program Specialist, 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.

Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative (MLEC) speaks eloquently on need for rural broadband

The Aitkin Age wrote about the USDA/Farmers Foundation meeting I attended last month. They focused on comments from CEO of Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative (MLEC), Brian Zelenak…

The electric and telephone cooperatives teamed up and received a $1.7 million Border-to-Border project grant in 2017 from the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development for a project in southern Aitkin County.

The grant has been used to install fiber from MLEC headquarters in Aitkin, past about 800 homes, ending at MLEC’s Spirit Lake substation. Approximately 400 members are signed up and 180 members are connected at speeds up to 1 Gig up/1 Gig down, which accounts for close to a 50 percent take rate. This is significant, Zelenak explained, because 45 percent of MLEC’s 15,000 members are seasonal.

“Aitkin County has the highest senior citizen rate of any county in Minnesota,” Zelenak said. “Keeping our aging population in their homes longer through the use of telemedicine will increase their quality of life and reduce their exodus to neighboring cities and towns.”

MLEC recognizes the importance of high speed internet service so its rural members have access to the same educational opportunities for children and adults wanting to further their education and training.

“Rural school children are at a competitive disadvantage when trying to get into colleges and trade schools,” Zelenak said.

Lack of sufficient high speed internet also hinders opportunities for increased economic development and jobs for rural communities.

“High speed internet access is a deal breaker for those working from home or starting a home-based business, and for manufacturing companies or other businesses to locate here,” Zelenak said. “Economic development does not exist without high speed internet access.”

According to Zelenak, broadband is as transformative to rural communities today as electricity was 80 years ago. “MLEC does not see rural Minnesota growing and prospering without the basics, and the basics are becoming good internet access.”

CTEP’s 2018 Civic Engagement Presentations – Aug 3 in St Paul MN

This is one of my favorite events for learning about some innovative digital inclusion projects. I hope to be there, taking notes…

Every year our CTEP AmeriCorps members choose civic engagement projects that make a contribution to bridging the digital divide. Please join us on Friday, August 3, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Saint Paul Neighborhood Network, where our members will share their accomplishments and struggles in creating community change through their projects. Feel free to swing by earlier for informal networking starting at 9 a.m; bagels and coffee will be served.

The Saint Paul Neighborhood Network’s AmeriCorps program, the Community Technology Empowerment Project (CTEP) bridges the “digital divide” for immigrant communities, low-income residents and persons with disabilities in the Twin Cities. AmeriCorps members help youth and adults use technology to access social, civic, educational and economic opportunities.

PLEASE Register Here 

Read more about what CTEP members did in their 2018 Civic Engagement Projects:

Naturally Bridging the Digital Divide
Conducted a week-long day camp focusing on urban agriculture and media skills. Introduced youth to the technology in urban farming as well as expand their knowledge of food sources in the Twin Cities, and then provided a platform for youth to share their experiences through digital storytelling.
Community Partners: SparkY, University of Minnesota Cornercopia Organic Farm

Broadband in Minneapolis: Closing the Digital Divide
Created a short documentary and recommendations for equitable fiber internet access in Minneapolis through meetings with city officials, private internet providers, and other key stakeholders.
Community Partners: Various

CTEP Resource Consolidation
Overhauled CTEP’s internal online information structure, with the goal of streamlining and updating online resources onto SPNN’s website for the benefit of CTEP members and participants alike.
Community Partner:  SPNN

Saving Cents with Sense
Provided a series of short classes on various digital financial concepts, such as using Microsoft Excel and checking credit scores online. The workshops sought to educate those who may not have benefitted from personal finance classes or a financial mentor.
Community Partners: Volunteers of America, Hubbs Center for Lifelong Learning

Field Testing Northstar Digital Literacy Assessments
Assisted in the redesign of the Northstar Digital Literacy assessments and engaged in field testing with local community members. Students at CTEP sites gave valuable user feedback for the  development team.
Community Partner: Northstar Digital Literacy Project

Re-Entering the Digital World: Computers for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals
Taught a series of computer classes to formerly incarcerated adults at Amicus, an organization that provides resources for people recently exiting the correctional system.
Community Partner: Amicus

Diversity and Inclusion in CTEP AmeriCorps
Began developing a diversity and inclusion framework for CTEP AmeriCorps to increase diversity and inclusion. Conducted focus groups with CTEP alumni to identify D&I strengths and weaknesses, and to get input towards a nascent advisory board.
Community Partner: SPNN, CTEP Alumni

The Rondo History Preservation Project
Worked with the Hallie Q. Brown Center in St. Paul to record and preserve oral histories regarding the historic Rondo neighborhood, and conducted media training for staff to be able to carry on the work.
Community Partner: Hallie Q. Brown Center

MN Broadband Task Force meeting agenda for July 10

I plan to be there and take notes.

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
July 10, 2018
State Capitol, Room 316
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
St Paul, MN 55155
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

  • 10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.  Introductions, approval of minutes, public comments
  • 10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Nancy Hoffman, Chisago County EDA, Chair of the MN Rural Broadband Caucus
  • 10:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Brad Finstad, State Director, USDA Rural Development
  • 11:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Update from Office of Broadband Development
  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Two Studies: Economic Impact of Broadband and Two Rural CAF II Exchanges
    • Ann Treacy, Treacy Information Services
    • Bill Coleman, Community Technology Advisors
  • 12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.  Lunch
  • 12:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Review Draft of Annual Report
  • 1:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Wrap-up/September Meeting Plans

Broadband comes up as a critical topic at the Thriving by Design Conference

This week I have been at the Thriving by Design conference in Granite Falls. It is…

A statewide gathering of Minnesota residents to begin and follow-thru on a six-month process – Thriving by Design – Rural & Urban Together – to create a comprehensive policy agenda and socioeconomic contract – the One Minnesota Equity Blueprint – for achieving rural-urban and racial economic equity and inclusive growth.

I have been taking notes – and will continue to take notes today as we work toward creating that blueprint. I wanted to share the discussion on broadband during the “deep dive table top discussion”.

There were 13 tables; 12 discussed topics from the Ignite Presentations and Pam from MVTV Wireless added broadband as a discussion. I sat at the table that discussed broadband and with their permission I recorded the conversation. It’s not structured and the room was loud but it will give a flavor of how the session went.

At the table was Pam from MVTV, a couple of people who are interested in getting better broadband and two CTEP workers (techie AmeriCorps folks) who have been working on investigating affordable options for better broadband in the Twin Cities and the social justice aspects of where broadband is available (in urban areas) and at what price.

Again – the quality is rough because the first priority was the keep the conversation “normal” but it’s interesting and it was a good excuse to talk about the conference. If you are interested in learning more about the process – let me know and I can connect you with the planners. This process will live beyond the week