EVENT OCTOBER: Mark Your Calendar! Broadband 2020: Connected We Stand

From the Blandin Foundation…

We invite you to join us this October for a next generation broadband-enabled, broadband-focused conference.

Interesting times require innovative solutions!

The world is in flux and broadband seems to be at the center of it. The COVID-19 pandemic and guidelines on social distancing are creating the need and opportunity to learn how to do things differently, often with an online element. Meanwhile, the internet and social media are allowing people from all over the world in real time to witness and participate first-hand in the movement to end racial inequities in Minnesota and nationwide.

From telework to distance learning to keeping in touch with family and friends; from citizen journalism to starting a movement online; one thing is certain – access to broadband and the skills to use it is more important than ever.

We have decided to lean in, to take advantage of the technology we’ve been promoting for so long to meet your educational, professional, and civic needs, and hopefully demonstrate new ways to work and meet that you can bring back to your community.

The conference will be entirely virtual – but that doesn’t mean a series of online lectures. While we have planned a few traditional presentations, we have also created opportunities for discussion and collaboration, such as:

  • Custom meetup/mentoring sessions where you can meet online with potential partners and/or experts in broadband adoption and deployment.
  • Learning Cohorts (small groups) to connect you with other attendees to bounce ideas and traverse an online event throughout the conference.
  • Exciting keynote speakers with the option to ask questions in real time or later
  • Opportunities for small group discussion

For more information including a preliminary schedule of events, visit the conference webpage.

COVID exacerbates the gap between haves and have-nots – starting with healthcare facilities vs broadband providers

High Plains Journal reports on a recent webinar on rural telehealth…

A July 15 webinar on those issues was hosted by Kevin Oliver, lead relationship manager at CoBank, part of the Farm Credit System that supports key initiatives in both rural broadband and healthcare. Titled “COVID-19 Impacts On Rural Healthcare and Broadband,” it is the fourth in the “From the Farmgate” series of webinars sponsored by CoBank. The speakers were Rick Breuer, CEO of Community Memorial Hospital, located in a rural area of Minnesota just west of Duluth; and Catherine Moyer, CEO of Pioneer Communications, which provides connectivity services in western Kansas via coaxial cable, copper wire, fiber and wireless.

I was especially interested in the bottom line impact to the broadband providers versus the healthcare facilities (the tele vs the health)…

Oliver noted that the cost dynamic was different for health care facilities and communications. Health care facilities saw a simultaneous increase in costs and decreases in revenue. On the other hand, communications companies have added customers and grown more quickly than they might have otherwise. While some payments are in arrears, “most of those arrears will be collectible,” said Moyer—whether from customers, or by laws like the Critical Connections Act that reimburses communications companies. Moyer said Pioneer had “donated” about $500,000 worth of connection services that may or may not be reimbursed.

Breuer said he doesn’t expect revenues at the hospital to return to anything like their full levels for at least a year.  The hospital has managed to avoid layoffs or furloughs, “but we’re getting [through] by the skin of our teeth.” Whatever happens with COVID, he said, “telehealth will definitely be part of our future. Home and hospital connections are equally important, since telehealth often happens from home.”

Breuer noted that until recently, he had to drive his kids into town to access hot spots so they could do their homework. One hospital sectioned off part of its parking lot for customer parking to use its hot spot, whether for medical tele-visits or other reasons. He also noted the vulnerability of rural networks, with little or no redundancy. He said one gnawing squirrel recently took down connectivity for a 50-square-mile area.

His hospital could not have kept its doors open without help from 10 separate funding organizations, said Breuer—but that in turn created a lot of documentation paperwork. He said independent clinics have been the worst-hit by the COVID crisis, especially those that service mostly rural populations but that don’t technically qualify as rural health clinics for one reason or another. Breuer supports changing those designations to allow more clinics to be helped.

Moyer supports what she calls contribution reform. Bill surcharges are based on an outdated model of long-distance service, now that texting has taken the place of phone calls for many. Fortunately, “the COVID crisis has focused the attention of many in Congress. I’ve been talking about all these connectivity issues for 20 years,” she said. “The silver lining is a lot of other people are focused on this issue now too.”

For so many years, the providers have invested (often with public support) in the networks that have made millions for private industry without reaping the same benefit. (A couple years ago, I looked at the community ROI of public investment in rural broadband – the community sees the return much more quickly than the provider.) It will be interesting to see what happens with healthcare and telecom/broadband. Many broadband providers are being generous with free/low cost connection right now and hopefully that will be an investment in a future paying customer. While the hospitals are in a different situation – the article points out that “163 rural hospitals have closed and about 600 more are vulnerable, or a third of all rural hospitals in the United States.“

Blandin Broadband Leadership Roundtable on Data and Broadband Investment Archive

Thanks to Michael Curri of Strategic Networks Group (www.sngroup.com) for a very interesting and informative presentation on the uses of data to justify broadband investments.  Every stakeholder group – community members, business owners, elected officials, broadband providers, funders – has a unique set of Return on Investment measures by which they will consider participation and measure success.  Michael’s presentation provides an overview of those measures.

Participants raised many questions about broadband investment, including discussion of a changed mindset that would treat broadband infrastructure more like roads, a part of the public investment strategy to supports economic development.  We also talked about the economic and business benefits to increased broadband and technology sophistication.  An interesting point was made about that jobs created by a rural-based company may now be filled by people who are working online from another location.  We often think about remote rural workers teleworking to jobs in the metro area; the Internet is a two-way street which reinforces the need to build a local knowledge workforce.

Congratulations to Becky Lourey and her company Nemadji.  After years of seeking better broadband, they are about to get it through a new fiber extension by SCI, a regional broadband provider in east central Minnesota.  As a result, Nemadji will now have a redundant Internet connection and all residents of Bruno, population 102 in northern Pine County, will have fiber to the home Internet services!

Next week, August 4th, Bernadine Joselyn will lead a presentation and discussion about the new Connected MN program and how that will benefit Minnesota students in the months ahead.  Register at broadband.blandinfoundation.org under the webinar heading.

EVENT JUl28: Blandin Broadband Leadership Roundtable on Data and Broadband Investment

Join us Tuesday, June 28th at 9 am for the next Blandin Broadband Leadership Roundtable where Michael Curri of Strategic Networks Group will participate in a discussion of broadband data necessary to justify a broadband investment.  Strategic Networks Groups has worked with many states and cities gathering and analyzing broadband related data.

SNG has recently been studying how various stakeholder groups can effectively measure their own Return on Investment for broadband investment.  Learn what what data are needed to make the case for broadband and to build local buy-in or to get projects funded and financed?

Everyone that invests their time, money, and/or effort needs to see returns based on their terms – which vary depending on the stakeholder group and what they are bringing to the table. Elected officials, local champions and organizations, service providers, investors, government funding will be discussed and what each need to move forward in terms of data, commitments, or opportunity.

Bring your data questions for Michael. Register now.

EVENT Jul 23: Dancing Heart with Kairos & MN Orchestra Via Zoom

Thursday at 10:30 would be a great time to take a little dance break with Kairos Alive. I have mentioned their distanced dance breaks before but for the next week there’s a special twist – they will be joined by musicians from the Minnesota Orchestra.

Hawthorne Neighborhood News reports…

Kairos Alive, in collaboration with guest musicians from the MN Orchestra, is kicking off a new interactive project via Zoom with special guest MN Orchestra Good Fellow bassoonist Kai Rocke, and Kairos Artists, including percussionist Kevin Washington.

Kairos Alive! Dancing Heart™ with MN Orchestra begins Thursday, July 16th from 10:30-11:15 AM. We’ll continue to webcast these creative sessions every Thursday morning at 10:30 AM Kairos Alive! creative sessions from July 16- August 13th. We’d love to have young people join us too.

There aren’t a ton of silver linings to this pandemic – but mid-morning music from MN Orchestra, dance leadership from Kairos and no coworkers in your eyesight – that a reason to take a break! Get the details and invitation from Kairos.

Call for Presentations: 2020 National Tribal Broadband Summit

I presented at this conference in DC last year. I was a great opportunity to meet passionate people and the innovating ways they deployed and used broadband with tribal communities….

Call for Presentations

 

The Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs invites you to present your latest work in planning, constructing, delivering, and using tribal broadband networks at the 2nd annual National Tribal Broadband Summit. The event will be conducted virtually September 21 – 25, 2020.

We encourage service providers, engineers, researchers, funders, regulators, and other key players from across the country to submit your best projects, programs, or initiatives to be presented at the National Tribal Broadband Summit, which will cover the following topics:

  • Planning & Implementation Identifying needs, setting goals, creating strategies, developing a plan and leveraging data to maximize the short and long-term educational, cultural and economic benefits of connectivity. Identifying sources of Federal, private and other programs and funding sources and leveraging these and community assets to best address strategic goals and community needs. Building and leveraging partnerships with both public and private entities to support connectivity and maximize the positive impacts of broadband access.
  • Technical Solutions, Middle Mile, Connectivity Solutions Exploring the various connectivity options available and identifying possible solutions to bring broadband to your unique community. E.g., white space, new spectrum and how to use it best, middle mile networks.
  • Applications for Social, Cultural, & Economic Well-Being Leveraging technology to improve health care outcomes, enhance economic development, increase community engagement, and expand educational opportunity. Responding to the coronavirus pandemic through emergency broadband networks, developing new and expanded services such as telemedicine and virtual learning programs, protecting community members, and preparing for future shocks. Smart cities, smart agriculture etc.

KEY DATES

Deadline for Abstract Submission               August 14, 2020

Notification of Acceptance                       August 28, 2020

Deadline for Full Presentation Submission    September 8, 2020

 

SELECTION CRITERIA

  • Presenter should have demonstrated history of success:
    • expanding broadband access, inclusion, and adoption,
    • financing broadband infrastructure, or
    • leveraging broadband for social and economic well-being or cultural preservation in American Indian, Alaska Native, and/or Native Hawaiian communities, schools, or libraries.
  • Summit organizers are looking for representation across the telecommunications ecosystem – we encourage submissions from small, medium and large enterprises.
  • Preference may be given to proposals that include content from federally recognized tribes or tribal partners.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

  • Provide a 1-page summary of your presentation proposal to rsvp@bia.gov by 5:00 PM ET on Friday, August 14, 2020.
  • The summary should indicate which main topic you are addressing, describe the presentation content and format (e.g., slide deck, panel discussion, etc.), the name and title of any speakers.
  • Please attach any prepared supporting materials, such as slide decks, brochures, etc., that would accompany the presentation and/or better help Summit organizers assess your proposal.

Broadband Roundtable on Minnesota Rural Mental Health and Telehealth Notes

Today we talked about rural mental health and telehealth. My favorite takeaway is that increased use, social acceptance and funding for telehealth might be one of the few silver linings of the COVID19 pandemic. A big thanks to everyone who joined today the experts on the our call:

  • Mark Jones, MRHA Executive Director
  • Sue Aberholden, NAMI Minnesota Executive Director & MRHA Board member
  • Teri Fritsma, lead research scientist, MDH Health Workforce Planning and Analysis

We started with a great overview from Teri on who/how/where people are using telehealth in Minnesota. It has picked up considerably since the pandemic and people who can access it are finding that it’s been a great tool. (Many plan to continue use post-COVID19.)

Sue talked about the efficacy when the conditions are right. Telehealth is easier for many patients and their support people (parents, kids, spouses, employers) becuase it requires no travel. But there are challenges with limited broadband, minutes of smartphanes, privacay issues. I loved the story of the procuring headsets for teens to increase privacay at home. Anyone of an age, where maybe you were asked to the promo on the kitchen phone, knows the utter lack of privacay. I’m glad there are better solutions now.

Mark talked about policy changes that have happened and need to happen. Two biggies – reminburesemnt for distance appointments and abaility to use technology that was not previously allowed due to HIPPA. Removing those barriers really opened up opportunities.

We heard from Mary DeVany, gpTRAC. They have the ability to offer assistance!

Finally we learned abotu Mobile Mental Health Crisis Teams. They are in every county. It’s the group you’d want to call in a mental health emergency. And there are efforts to get them connected with 911 – so that they can help triage folks to the police or mental health experts.

Chat Transcript:

  • 00:35:25              Ann Treacy:        Here’s a link to NAMI MN for workplace – Sue may have something more specific
  • https://namimn.org/education-public-awareness/workplace/
  • 00:59:11              Mary DeVany, gpTRAC:  Just a bit of information…If you are looking for more information about telehealth, please know that the Great Plains Telehealth Resource & Assistance Center (gpTRAC.org) is available with resources and can assist with training and building awareness.  We are a federally-funded program out of Univ. of Minnesota.
  • 01:08:31              Natalie Matthewson:      Will we get the slides that Teri used for her presentation?

EVENT JUl 23: Digital Redlining & Connectivity Barriers In Marginalized Communities

I wanted to share the following invitation from Public Knowledge…

Thursday, July 23rd at 2 PM EST
Attend Event

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically exposed how digital inequities are further marginalizing minority populations. Internet service providers invest less in broadband infrastructure in communities of color and low-income communities because doing so is considered to be less profitable.

The same neighborhoods that were redlined by banks and insurance companies now face similar discrimination by internet service providers — deemed “digital redlining.” On top of this, many people in marginalized communities can’t afford to connect to broadband or purchase connected devices. Accordingly, the residents of these communities find themselves unable to engage in distance learning, work remotely, access telemedicine, or connect with loved ones virtually.

The consequences of America’s extreme digital divide have been amplified in the current pandemic. Join us for an expert discussion on policy solutions to these connectivity barriers.

Speakers:

Maurita Coley- President and CEO of Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council

Lukas Pietrzak – Policy Associate at Next Century Cities

Daiquiri Ryan – Strategic Policy Counsel at the National Hispanic Media Coalition & Co-founder at Neta Collab

Angela Siefer – Executive Director of National Digital Inclusion Alliance

Moderator: Jenna Leventoff – Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge

We’ll send call-in information to registrants in advance of the webinar.

Share this event on Facebook and Twitter.

We hope you can make it!

Cheers,

Public Knowledge

Going deep with telehealth application to get medical supplies Where they need to go

Broadband Breakfast reports on a recent Amazon Web Services webinar that highlights Minnesota…

Emily Ward, state planning director for emergency preparedness and response at the Minnesota Department of Health, detailed ways in which the healthcare sector leveraged and repurposed the city’s cloud services in response to the pandemic.

The department’s information technology sector developed two applications to assist in getting medical supplies to those in need, called POD PreCheck and POD Locator.

PODs, or point(s) of dispensing, are community locations at which state and local agencies dispense medical materials and medications to the public.

POD PreCheck allowed clients to prescreen their conditions electronically, which assisted the Minnesota Department of Health in delivering the best medication to consumers with speed and efficiency, reducing wait times.

POD Locator is a dynamic mapping application that shows the locations of PODs on a searchable map and provides any site-specific instructions.

“The scalability offered by the cloud was the most desirable feature,” said Ward. “This app will still work if more than 5 million users try to access it.”

“It is Important that it remains stable,” she added.

EVENT Sep 10: UMN Extension’s Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference

I remember attending the UMN Extension’s Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference last year and being very impressed. The event is being moved online. SO even easier to access and the lineup looks good…

The 2020 Conference will be held online on September 10.

To register for the conference please use this link. The cost is $20 per participant.

To stay informed about updates please sign up here!

Tentative Agenda

9:00 am   Keynote Panel –founder stories from Launch Minnesota regions

9:40 am  Break

9:45 am  Breakout sessions

Minnesota Indigenous Business Alliance- Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Indian Country

Min-Corps- Online Training Resources for Entrepreneurs in Minnesota

Office of the Comptroller of Currency- Rural Broadband Development

10:20 am Break

10:25 am Breakout networking mixer

10:40 am Break

10:45 am Breakout sessions

Launch Minnesota’s Regional Hubs – Panel on Developing an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem across Minnesota

HACER- Workshop on HACER’s Entrepreneurship Program

Speaker 3 to be confirmed

11:25 am Break

11:30 am Keynote – Andrea Stordahl- The story of Minnesota Rust

12:30 pm Closing

EVENT July 21: Broadband Roundtable on Minnesota Rural Mental Health and Telehealth

Bill Coleman, the regular roundtable host, is on vacation July 21 and so I will be hosting a conversation on rural mental health going online. A look at how individuals and communities are weathering the storm of pandemic and civil unrest with help from remote mental health services. What’s working, what’s not and what’s the role of broadband?
We have a few experts ready to share what they know:

  • Mark Jones, MRHA Executive Director
  • Sue Aberholdeint, NAMI Minnesota Executive Director & MRHA Board member
  • Teri Fritsma, lead research scientist, MDH Health Workforce Planning and Analysis

You can register for this and future Roundtables here.

For more information, or to share ideas for future Roundtable starter topics, contact Mary Magnuson at memagnuson@blandinfoundation.org.

EVENTS July 15-29: A series for nonprofits from NetSquared chapters across the US now happening online

One of rare silver linings of the world today, is that distance is no long an issue if you have adequate broadband! (Subsequently without broadband you are likely falling farther and farther behind.)  Here are some opportunities for nonprofits. I used to attend a lot of the local events – so a pro tip, these can be instructive for small businesses too. The folks who present and attend are very generous with their expertise…

Find community and learn with us online. These free tech for nonprofit conversations are hosted by NetSquared chapter leaders and our parent charity TechSoup.

NetSquared chapter leaders and our parent charity TechSoup.

Broadband Roundtable on 5G archive

Today, Brian Pickering of Nokia shared a interesting and digestible presentation on 5G wireless during the Blandin Broadband Leadership Roundtable.  Brian is the VP of 5G Product Sales North America for Nokia.  Brian is responsible for creation and implementation of the 5G sales strategy as well as business development in North America.

Brian outlined the three legs of the 5G stool that combine low latency, high reliability, capacity and connectivity:

  • Extreme mobile broadband with greater than 10 Gbps peak data rates with 100 Mbps available whenever needed
  • Critical machine communication
  • Massive machine communication

Critically important to understanding 5G is knowing how radio spectrum impacts performance.  He described that as the frequency increases, data rates go up and coverage area goes down.  The lower frequencies, like 600 MHz are used by TMobile to deliver broadband in rural areas across a wide area.  The higher frequencies, also known as millimeter wave, in the 24-28 GHz range, are primarily for stadiums, factories, etc.  South Korea and other countries are making strong use of the 3.5 GHz frequencies which is a sweet spot for capacity and range.  The US is in the process of making this available via auction for future use.  Brian’s slides clearly show how different spectrum impacts coverage and business strategy.

Brian highlighted the current and future applications where 5G’s greatest potential will be realized.  Machine to machine communication and virtual and augmented reality are two important applications.  Watch the webinar here:  Download the slides here

Next week, Ann Treacy will host a conversation on Rural Mental Health and Telehealth with local experts from MN Rural Health Association, NAMI MInnesota and MN Department of Health. (More info soon.)

5G articles from Paul Weirtz

Some good pushback on the 5G/Coronavirus conspiracy theories:

5G – Here are a couple of articles helping to debunk the “Coronavirus is caused by 5G”.  I think the media has actually been very helpful with all of this: 

Online chat: Continue reading

EVENT July 14: The Future of Telehealth (online)

Happening today at 11:20 CST…

A virtual event on how new technology is disrupting the health care space. We will unpack how telehealth is facilitating public and private health care — with COVID-19 upending priorities in medical care, understanding these developments has become even more critical.

Axios Co-founder Mike Allen and Health Care Reporter Caitlin Owens will host one-on-one conversations with:

Ajit Pai
Chairman, Federal Communications Commission

Mario Schlosser
Co-founder & CEO, Oscar Health
Axios Co-founder & CEO Jim VandeHei will host a View from the Top segment with:
Zach Reitano
Co-founder & CEO, Ro

Register or learn more.

EVENT July 14: Broadband Roundtable on 5G

An invitation from the Blandin Foundation

Join Blandin Foundation on Zoom Tuesday morning at 9:00 am for our weekly Broadband Roundtable conversation. This week we will talk about 5G with guest expert, Brian Pickering. Brian is Nokia’s Vice President of 5G Product Sales North America. This is a great opportunity to learn about how 5G technologies and services might impact your community’s broadband services and the way that your residents, organizations and businesses use technology.

You can register for this and future Roundtables here

For more information, or to share ideas for future Roundtable starter topics, contact Mary Magnuson at memagnuson@blandinfoundation.org.