EVENT April 15: Roundtable on Current, Ongoing Broadband Legislation

An invitation from the Fiber Broadband Association…

The Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) today announced a roundtable discussion planned for this Thursday, April 15 covering the ongoing legislative action aimed at expanding broadband across the United States. FBA President and CEO Gary Bolton will be joined by fiber broadband policy and industry experts to discuss recent activities within the current Administration including President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, the Accessible, Affordable Internet For All Act and more.

The webinar, scheduled for 1 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 15, is free and available to the public after registering at this link.

Panelists include:

Gary Bolton, President and CEO, Fiber Broadband Association

Kim Bayliss, Principal, Perry Bayliss

Steve Perry, Principal, Perry Bayliss

Tom Cohan, Corporate Counsel, Partner, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP

Joanne Hovis, President, CTC Technology & Energy

Ben Moncrief, Managing Director, C Spire

Stan Fendley, Director, Legislative & Regulatory Policy, Corning

MN Senate SF958: $40 million in state funding for broadband

The MN Senate Committee on Finance met to discuss SF958 (Westrom) Omnibus agriculture and broadband finance and policy bill.

Here are the barebones highlights:

  • The Senate recommends $40 million for broadband grants; $10 million is dedicated to unserved areas and grants need only match 45 percent of project (as opposed to the usual 50 percent). They recommend that if federal funding is available, then that funding be used first up to $80 million for broadband. And they want state funding to extend over two years.
  • They have added fixed wireless into the definition of served/ unserved/ underserved and asked the Office of Broadband Development to map wireline and fixed wireless access.
  • There was quite a bit of discussion around how to track the federal CVOID money as it impacts state appropriations.

Team YES wins Overwatch 6v6 Tournament at GigaZone Gaming Championship 5

Some fun news in a tough week from Paul Bunyan Communications

The first of three consecutive weekends of GigaZone Gaming Championship 5 was held Saturday, April 10 with the first tournament, Overwatch 6v6.

Team YES won the Overwatch 6v6 Tournament and the top prize of $1,800.  Team YES team members are Kelly Whipple, Kylie Elliott, Tien Nguyen, Connor Broderick, and Coby LaCroix from Bemidji and Isaak R Smith from Deer River.

Second place and $1,200 went to The Clean Up Crew with team members Thomas Berge of Bemidji, Ethan Hunt and Ewan Newbold of Pine River, Tristan Jourdain from Red Lake, Jacob Peterson from Red Lake Falls, and Kohl Belgrade-Gotchie from Akeley.

Third place and $600 was won by ISSA Team with team members all from Bemidji including Tristan Lawrence, Naziah Matt, Devon Rainey, James Jones, Matoskah Veaux, and Dakota Veaux

In addition to the Overwatch tournament, there were door prize drawings throughout the day and the CosPlay Contest started accepting entries.  Madden 21 is the featured tournament this Saturday, April 17 and Super Smash Bros is the featured Tournament on Saturday, April 24. The tournaments are free to play and open to anyone who lives within the 218 area code but registration is required at www.gigazonegaming.com  Anyone interested in either tournament should register now before they are full.

“What an incredible job our team has done in pivoting to a virtual event his year!  I’m very proud of all the hard work and dedication put in to provide these three weekends of online gaming fun for the region.  I hope everyone gets the chance to check it out over the course of the next two Saturdays,” said Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General Manager

This one-of-a-kind regional gaming event is free to play or watch and is being held virtually due to the pandemic.  It showcases Paul Bunyan Communications’ IT and web development team which custom built and integrated much of the online technology to make the virtual event possible.  The event leverages the speed of the GigaZone one of the largest rural all-fiber optic Gigabit networks in the country and the entire event is run off a single residential GigaZone Internet connection.

“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.

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

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

EVENT April 13: House and Senate Committees Hear Broadband Bills Tomorrow

From the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition…

House and Senate Committees Hear Broadband Bills Tomorrow
A brief reminder that the Senate Finance Committee will hear the broadband provisions within SF 958 tomorrow (Tuesday, April 13) at 8:30am. The House Ways and Means Committee will hear similar provisions at 9:00am. There are several bills on the agenda for each committee. The broadband provisions may not be up immediately after the committee starts.
Both committee hearings will be live streaming from the following websites:

EVENT April 14: Blandin Broadband Lunch Bunch Federal Broadband Funding Programs

Just a reminder for folks that this conversation is happening on Wednesday. Should be a good one…

Broadband Funding Programs (Apr 14 noon to 1pm CST)
Join us on April 14th for our lunch bunch discussion on emerging federal programs to fund broadband expansion in your community.  Believe us, it is getting complicated!  Each of the programs seem to have its own unique philosophy around ownership, partnership, technology and timing.  Plus, there is wide latitude to spend direct federal aid to communities and counties on broadband.  Are you ready for those discussions?  There are plenty of webinars to be had with folks reading bullet points about the various programs; our lunch bunch won’t be that!  It will be a vibrant discussion powered by your thoughts on how Minnesota communities are planning to maximize the pursuit and use of funds.  Join us ready to contribute!
Register here 

EVENT April 13: MN House to discuss broadband: Ways and Means Committee

From an email from the Committee Admin…

AGENDA – Ways and Means Committee – Tuesday, April 13, 9:00am – Remote Hearing by Zoom

NOTE: The committee will recess at 10:25am and reconvene at the Call of the Chair


HF1670 (Ecklund) – Labor and Industry omnibus (PENDING REFERRAL)

HF1342 (Noor) – Workforce and Business Development omnibus (PENDING REFERRAL)

  • NOTE: The language of HF1670 (Ecklund) will be added to HF1342 during the hearing

HF14 (Ecklund) Broadband grant program deposit transfer

HF1524 (Sundin) Agriculture omnibus (PENDING REFERRAL)

  • NOTE: The language of HF14 (Ecklund) will be added to HF1524 during the hearing

HF1684 (Hornstein) – Transportation omnibus (PENDING REFERRAL)

HF1076 (Hansen, R.) Environment and Natural Resources omnibus (PENDING REFERRAL)



Meeting documents will be posted on the House Ways and Means Committee website at https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/Committees/Home/92029

Public Viewing Information:

This remote hearing will be live-streamed via the House webcast schedule page: https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/htv/schedule.asp.

BroadbandUSA Announcements – April Webinars – NTIA Grants Webinar Series Home

The NTIA is hosting a series of webinars

Join NTIA for a webinar series starting in April 2021 focused on the three new broadband grant programs authorized and funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021: the Broadband Infrastructure Program, the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, and the Connecting Minority Communities Program. These webinars are designed to help prospective applicants understand the grant programs and to assist applicants to prepare high quality grant applications.

Please visit the BroadbandUSA website for more information, registration, and updates.

NTIA Grans Webinar Series Schedule


Tribal Broadband Connectivity Grants Program (Tribal)

Register here for April 21st Webinar

Register here for April 22nd Webinar


Register Here for May 19th Webinar

Register Here for May 20th Webinar

EVENT April 28: Women Leading Broadband and Connectivity in Rural

An invitation from 100 Rural Women

Join us for our next webinar:  Wed, April 28th at 8:30 am CST “Women Leading Broadband and Connectivity in Rural”  Featuring Bernadine Joselyn, Director of Policy and Engagement at the Blandin Foundation and Tina May, Chief of Staff and Vice President at Land O’Lakes.

EVENT April 15: RuralRISE Broadband Tech

Looks like an interesting conference…

RuralRISE Broadband Tech will spotlight resources, programs & solutions for affordable broadband in Rural America.

About this Event

RuralRISE Tech will be hosting a virtual Rural Broadband Summit on April 15. This virtual event will focus on:

Topics will include:

• Overview of Rural Digital Divide

• Fireside Chat: Successful State Programs and Innovative Partnerships

• Fireside Chat: Role of cooperatives in Rural Deployment: Cooperatives have been present in rural communities for years, how the movement to broadband offerings can assist in getting broadband to rural America

• Anchor Institutions (Schools, Hospitals and Libraries role in Rural Broadband

• Regional Digital Inclusion Planning.

• Community leaders working in rural communities sharing their success in advancing digital equity – via tech literacy, device access and affordable internet options.

• Actionable session focused on helping rural communities plan new fiber networks.

• 5 – Minute Quick Pitches – examples across rural America.

• Followed by a Networking/Social Hour


Draft Schedule available online.

MN Broadband Task Force April Mtg archive & video: Angie Craig, LTD Broadband & NCTA

Today the MN Broadband Task Force met. They heard from US Rep Angie Craig, LTD Broadband (big winner of federal broadband contract in MN) and NCTA (A cable association – or lots of cable folks on the board anyway.)

I took high level notes:

Update from the Legislature what are folks recommending broadband funding:

  • MN House: $60 million over two years
  • MN Senate: $40 million first year (will be discussed at Ways and Means Committee – Tuesday, April 6, 5:00pm – Remote Hearing by Zoom
  • MN Gov: still talking about $50 million

Update from Angie Craig:

  • “Broadband is not a luxury; it’s is essential 21st infrastructure. If you have broadband you can start a business from anywhere
  • What are challenges? Politics get in the way of good policy. How it gets paid for is a sticking point for infrastructure.
  • What are challenges? Politics get in the way of good policy. How broadband gets paid for is a sticking point for infrastructure – run deficit or long term investment? The problem is people think in 2-yr increments in DC
  • What do you think of fiber? We need to keep an open mind. We need accurate mapping. Just spoke with @fcc – we can invest in mapping and infrastructure.
  • “A danger for broadband support is that many people have signed no-new-taxes commitments. So while they may support broadband no-new-taxes takes priority. Corporate taxes went from 35 percent to 21 percent – we need to look at that.”

Update from LTD

  • The pandemic proved to them that consumers need symmetrical broadband – which is a change from what they said a few years ago.
  • Symmetrical or asymmetrical? COVID and Zoom have taught us that symmetrical matters. In my neighborhood we couldn’t get cable broadband 35Mbps up and that’s what we needed for all the zooms in my house.”
  • “Our fixed wireless #terragraph (mesh is being tested at Gig up and down. We are fans of hybrid; it makes sense to have more than one tool in the toolbox”
  • Q: “We are in an area that had been working on a #BordertoBrder grant but it was booted because of #RDOF.”
    A:”If you need help sooner, let us know. We can’t do it all at once but we can focus.”
  • “We are looking at deploying aerial fiber rather underground in areas like the Iron Range”

Info on networks during the pandemic from NCTA…

  • Chart shows much greater growth in upload than download traffic. Downstream is still greater than upstream but greatest growth is in upstream.
  • COVID-19 increased internet use by 70%, and streaming by more than 12%.
  • “Videoconferencing is less than 5 percent of overall traffic”

Subgroup Updates:

  1. Paul Wertz: Group did not meet since last meeting.  Fixed wireless panel coming up. Working on getting State Demographer
  2. Nolan Cauthen: Group did not meet since last meeting.
  3. Yvonne: Did meet. Working on speakers – such as ARC, Chris Mitchell, State Demographer.

Questions for the State Demographer:

  • Does broadband access impact other data – have they seen changes where broadband has improved?
  • Any stats on broadband access and local average age?

EVENTS: April Lunch Bunch: Federal funding (Apr 14) & Digital Ready Communities (Apr 28)

Each month the Blandin Foundation hosts two conversation or lunch bunch sessions; on the second Wednesday of the month the focus is Infrastructure and on the fourth the focus is Digital Inclusion and Use. Here are the topics for April:

Join us on April 14th for our lunch bunch discussion on emerging federal programs to fund broadband expansion in your community.  Believe us, it is getting complicated!  Each of the programs seem to have its own unique philosophy around ownership, partnership, technology and timing.  Plus, there is wide latitude to spend direct federal aid to communities and counties on broadband.  Are you ready for those discussions?  There are plenty of webinars to be had with folks reading bullet points about the various programs; our lunch bunch won’t be that!  It will be a vibrant discussion powered by your thoughts on how Minnesota communities are planning to maximize the pursuit and use of funds.  Join us ready to contribute!
Register here 

Join us April 28 for our lunch bunch on Digital Ready Communities. As part of the Fall Broadband Conference, three MN communities participated in Purdue University Center for Regional Development’s Digital Ready Community program that helps communities assess the local digital environment and create a community-wide plan for better local digital communication. (Learn more.) We will be hearing from participants and the folks from Purdue. Please come with questions and prepare to learn from their learning. Register here.

EVENT April 15: MN Rural Broadband Coalition Meeting

From the MN Broadband Coalition…

Save the Date!
Minnesota Broadband Coalition Meeting

Thursday, April 15, 2021
19:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Via Zoom
Agenda and Details on How to Join the Meeting Coming Soon! Please RSVP by replying to this email or Emily Murray to indicate attendance or absence.
Feel free to extend this invitation to other interested stakeholders.

EVENT April 5: Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Meeting

I will attend and plan to livestream on Facebook. Here are the details from the Office of Broadband Development

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband April 5, 2021

10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Microsoft Teams meeting

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only)

+1 763-317-4323,,746852807#   United States, Plymouth

Phone Conference ID: 746 852 807#

Find a local number | Reset PIN

10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from March 16, 2021 Meeting

10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Update on 2021 Legislation (Deven Bowdry, DEED)

10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Update and conversation with U.S. Rep. Angie Craig

10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.  LTD Broadband – RDOF Introduction with Corey Hauer (Invited) and Haley Tollefson (Confirmed)

11:00 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.  Break

11:10 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. 2020 Network Performance -The Shift to Home and the Impact to Networks with William Check, SVP, Science & Technology and CTO, NCTA and Matt Tooley, VP of Broadband Technology at NCTA

11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.                Subgroup Reports

12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.                Public Comment, Other Business, May Meeting Plans, Wrap-up such as May meeting-specific questions/topics for State Demographer? Also presentation by Fixed Wireless Panel planned.

Blandin Broadband Communities Update: fun broadband project descriptions

Today members of the current Blandin Broadband (BBC) cohort met to catch up. Communities include Chisago Lakes Area, Le Sueur County, Otter Tail County, Red Lake Nation and White Earth Nation. This is a group that signed up with Blandin to do broadband planning and programming a little more than a year ago. They are the group that signed up for one thing and then COVID happened and they (and the Blandin team) did an impressive job recalibrating to Zoom meetings and stalled or modified projects.

Today they met to catch up a little and talk about projects that were working well for them and get help for ones that weren’t I thought it would be fun to share the conversation:


Some quick notes of projects that were discussed in my break out room:

Otter Tail County spent CARES money on upgrading video conference spaces in the libraries and creating two new spaces in newly formed libraries. These are places where area residents and visitors (Otter Tail gets a lot of visitors!) can use the broadband and the equipment. Picture a Zoom set up on steroids – or picture the Zoom set up you wish you had the last time you really wanted to impress people in the Zoom room. The spaces are free and open to the public – you just need to register.

Le Sueur County has been working a lot of access to support broadband use. They had projects planned to support wifi on publinc transportation but some have been on hold because of access issues and COVID. They have a LEAD for America consultant coming in to help with Digital Navigation through the schools. Good question was raised about getting Digital Navigators to people over 50.

Central MN Coalition on Aging stepped in with some of the work they are doing with older folks. They have been working with the AARP startup. They have started a survey and have learned that businesses in their area really need help. They want to find out what people want to learn and how can they best learn it. Another good question was about how we teach young people to use technology for the work world. Sometimes we assume younger people know how to use technology but they may not know tools like email, mapping or other workforce skills.

EVENT April 7: World Health Day Symposium 2021

Global Minnesota is hosting a meeting next week and broadband will be a featured topic – because broadband is key is health equity, especially during a pandemic..

Global Minnesota hosts an important virtual symposium to mark World Health Day on April 7. The official theme for the day is Health Equity.

This enormous topic extends all the way from local grassroots issues to global policy initiatives. With its reputation for health care, organizations and companies based in Minnesota are in a unique position to share expertise in improving global health. As the facilitator of this symposium, Global Minnesota serves as a conduit of information that can take local innovations and extend their reach across the world.

What projects around the globe can shape solutions that support developing health equity? How can the United States and Minnesota learn from global innovators?

Register now to hear the perspectives of local, national, and international organizations and corporations that provide leadership in health care, research, and policy.

The list of speakers include some folks well steeped in the world of broadband, such as…

  • Ali Dalio – Managing Partner, United Ventures; Managing Director, United Capital Group
  • Juan José Gómez Camacho – Ambassador of Mexico to Canada
  • Jean-Paul Smets, PhD – Founder, Nexedi; Founder RapidSpace; CTO, Blutel Wireless