Webinar tonight (7pm) #SaveLifeline: a digital briefing about the Lifeline program and how to save it.

If you’re reading this now, you may be free tonight – and this is a good opportunity to learn more about lifeline at a time when the digital divide may be narrowing, but also deepening.

#SaveLifeline: a digital briefing about the Lifeline program and how to save it.

Lifeline is the only federal program that helps people living below the poverty line stay connected to phone and at-home internet service. This essential program allows people to access life-saving medical information, search for jobs, pursue educational opportunities and so much more.

The FCC wants to destroy Lifeline — but we’re here to fight back. Join a digital briefing hosted by Free Press and the Center for Media Justice to learn more about this program and how you can get involved in the fight to save it.


Apr 16, 2019 8:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Internet’s past, present and future- keynote by Dr. Mark McCahill

I’m slow getting these notes up but a few weeks ago I attended an interesting conference on the history of the Internet. The only problem was that what they were presenting was stuff I remembered from my days at MRNet, which means history and my life are starting to intersect but it also reminds me of what interesting days we live in.

The keynote speaker was Dr Mark McCahill, who was lead developer at the U of MN for the GOPHER protocol. GOPHER was a precursor to the World Wide Web. It wasn’t graphical but it did provide amazing access to files on computers around the world. The difficulty was retracing your steps once you found something cool – or keeping focus because you could always find lots of cool things you didn’t know you needed. Again – precursor to the WWW. In fact McCahill spoke about his conversation with Tim Berners-Lee (developer of the WW) and wondering if they should work together on a protocol – McCahill decided not to and stuck with GOPHER.

His best line (of many) – If you’re in the right place you get exposed to the future – at least a little bit.

Then there was a lot of talk about the good and bad sides of broadband and technology.

We talked about the power of the internet and social media in raising previously unheard voices. And the power of social media, especially with kids, to create a false world that no one can live up to. It’s a double edged sword. But because of the growing impact of the internet e-commerce has gone from .9 percent of retail sales in 1999 to 10 percent today. Can you imagine how that’s going to grow?

We also talked about cyber security and the ability to have the Internet change the world for better or ill. Recipe for online dystopia was defined: “We know that adversaries are in our system. We can’t do anything. The next war will be digital. We rely on root cert authority.” Recipe for better: “Quantum computers. Get rid of root of trust. Standards are no longer enough.”

The Internet is a power that can’t be stopped but the session made the case that we need people thinking (and protecting against) worst case scenario. For example, we talked about the next generation of ID theft. Never mind criminals stealing credit info or your digital footprint. Artificial intelligence is getting to a point where one could create a synthetic version of you!

Again, a super interesting conversation – felt a little bit like sci-fi but probably closer to reality than I’d like to think.

MN Broadband bill moves from Ways and Means to General Register

Yesterday HF2208 passed from Ways and Means to General Register with no discussion.

Most of the discussion happened on Monday (Apr 8) where the removed $15 million from the broadband grant, which had been an addition to the original bill. Now the broadband grant budget is $70 million for the biennium.

The bill was going to Taxes and then back to Ways and Means, then to General Register. BUT there are no longer tax provisions in the bill now and so the move is to pass it onto the General Register.

I was in another meeting yesterday so wasn’t there live. Turns out it was a god move to wait for the movie – the whole process take about 2 minutes.

MN House Ways and Means – discusses broadband grants – decides on $70 million for biennium

The meeting begins the process of mining bills and getting them to align with Senate versions. They are working on bills that will incorporate with Jobs Bill to align with Senate. They will be re-referred to tax committee – not directly to the floor.

Rep Ecklund moves HF7 (Broadband grants). There was an amendment to remove $15 million that Rep Layman added in the last meeting. Removing the added funds puts the budget in line with target budget. (Amendment was accepted.)

There was no policy added to the bill. They talked about policy earlier but decided to work on policy next year and focus on funding this year.

Rep Kresha adds that the grants have worked very well and leaving off policy might help them work even better.

Rep Garofalo promotes fixed wireless, cellular and satellite as a viable options. Rep Drazowski agrees with Garofalo.

They also discuss Net Neutrality. There was some concern that providers that got broadband grants from the state would not be required to adhere to  the Net Neutrality clauses that had been put in place – especially when it comes to retransmission fees. (Those are fees charged from fee-based content providers. Also some questions about what had happened to $488,000 cost for Net Neutrality, which had apparently been absorbed into the budget.


US Senate meeting on Broadband Mapping: Challenges and Solutions

Looks like it will be livestreamed tomorrow (I may have to watch the archive)…

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing titled, “Broadband Mapping: Challenges and Solutions,” at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 10, 2019. The hearing will examine the current state of the nation’s broadband maps, and evaluate the ongoing efforts within the federal government and private sector to collect more accurate broadband coverage data. The hearing also will examine ways to increase coordination among federal agencies that administer broadband deployment programs to ensure resources are targeted to unserved areas.


  • Mr. Tim Donovan, Senior Vice President, Competitive Carriers Association
  • Mr. Mike McCormick, President, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation
  • Mr. Mike Oblizalo, Vice President and General Manager, Hood Canal Communications
  • Mr. Jonathan Spalter, President and Chief Executive Officer, United States Telecom Association
  • Mr. Chip Strange, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Ookla

*Witness list subject to change

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, April 10, 2019
10:00 a.m.
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

This hearing will take place in the Dirksen Senate Office Building G50. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Technical Assistance Workshops for ReConnect Program in MN May 15-16

From the USDA…

Informational Workshops Scheduled for April and May 2019

USDA has announced the six regional ReConnect Technical Assistance Workshops. These regional workshops will allow applicants to gain a stronger understanding of the application process and program requirements. They will provide stakeholders with information about the funding opportunity announcement released in December 2018, as well as specific details regarding the technical, financial, and program management requirements.

Pre-registration for these events is required. To register, please visit this following link:

The Washington, Pennsylvania workshop was held April 2-3, 2019

Register for the Tucson, Arizona workshop to be held April 9-10, 2019

Register for the Junction City, Kansas workshop to be held April 16-17, 2019

Register for the Welches, Oregon workshop to be held April 23-24, 2019

Register for the Auburn, Alabama workshop to be held May 8-9, 2019

Register for the Alexandria, Minnesota workshop to be held May 15-16, 2019


About the ReConnect Program

The ReConnect Program offers loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in areas of rural America without sufficient access to broadband.

  • The awards made under this program will bring high-speed broadband to rural areas that lack sufficient access to broadband.
  • The delivery of broadband connection and high-quality service will enable technologies critical to rural communities, such as precision agriculture.
  • The pilot program will fuel long-term economic development and opportunities in rural America.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Thriving by Design MN Equity Blueprint in Olivia April 26

Growth & Justice and OneMinnesota are hosting the rollout of their first equity blueprints

You’re invited to join Growth & Justice and OneMN.org in the host city of Olivia, MN, for a rollout of the Minnesota Equity Blueprint’s first section — Human Capital — developed by hundreds of Minnesotans through statewide events, community research, conversations, and writing since June 2018.

This is the first of five Equity Blueprint sections to be publicly unveiled. Other section rollouts – Economic Development, Infrastructure, Climate Action & Natural Resources, and Democracy — will follow at similar events across Minnesota in 2019.

Join us on Friday, April 26 for a SW Minnesota-focused event, with local and regional highlights from the Olivia Main Street Program, Southwest Initiative Foundation, and others.