More info on Gardonville’s border to border award in Nelson (Douglas County)

The Alexandria Each reports

High-speed broadband internet access is coming to Nelson in 2023, while residents and businesses in and north of Carlos will have to wait.

In December, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced that Gardonville Cooperative Telephone Association of Brandon would receive a grant of just over $1.2 million to bring fiber to 300 homes and businesses in and around Nelson.

Of these 300 locations, 59 include home-based businesses or telecommuters. Gardonville has promised to provide 1G per second upload and 1G per second download to all customers, which exceeds Minnesota’s speed goal for 2026.

The grant is half the estimated total project cost of just over $2.4 million.

Some details on the original application…

Gardonville originally sought grants to install broadband for three neighborhoods in 2023, including Carlos and the Buckskin area to the north and west of Carlos. However, Arvig and Charter each challenged portions of Gardonville’s plans, saying that they planned to provide high-speed broadband to those areas within 18 months.

Gardonville CEO Dave Wolf said Gardonville has a good relationship with Arvig and that they were able to reach an agreement that involved Gardonville redrawing its plans to exclude a small area that is in Arvig’s sights. However, he has not been able to reach an agreement with Charter. Regardless, internet providers can apply for another round of grant funding by March, and Wolf said Gardonville plans to apply again for the Carlos and Buckskin areas.

More info on Fillmore County Harmony Border to Border grant

Fillmore County Journal reports

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced Harmony Telephone Company as a recipient of a Border-to-Border Grant totaling $1.1 million.

The grant program is a partnership between the State of Minnesota and Fillmore County.

Harmony Telephone Company will use the $1.1 million grant and $1.69 million local match to service 34 unserved households, 22 underserved businesses and 56 unserved farms north of Preston in rural areas of Fillmore County. It will improve speeds to 1 Gbps download and 1 Gbps upload on a fiber network, exceeding the state’s 2022 and 2026 speed goals.

And a little more info on Harmony…

Harmony Telephone Company is a privately-held company in Harmony, Minn. It was purchased in 2006 by Mabel Cooperative Telephone Company and Spring Grove Communications. In 2018, MiEnergy Cooperative bought into the company to become an additional owner.  It provides broadband and telephone service to Harmony and the surrounding rural area, as well as, cable TV service in Harmony. Ownership by cooperatives means providing quality service remains a top priority.

More info on Arvig’s Border to Border grants

The Pilot Independent reports

Arvig has been awarded six grants from the State of Minnesota’s Border-to-Border Broadband program which it will invest in fiber infrastructure projects during the next three years to expand and improve high-speed internet access in five counties in Minnesota.

Arvig’s Border-to-Border grant awards, totalling $8.7 million, will be allocated toward constructing six mainline and last-mile fiber-to-the-premise networks around the state by mid-year 2025. The six projects total $28.9 million, with funding from the grants, local matches by city and county funding partners of over $12 million, and Arvig’s own capital investment of more than $8 million.

Duluth City Council prepares for possible fiber project in Lincoln Park

Duluth News Tribune reports

While the City Council has yet to authorize staff to proceed with efforts to construct a municipally owned fiber optic network in Lincoln Park, it has already begun to move money around in anticipation of the proposed pilot project.

Last week, councilors unanimously voted in favor of a resolution to transfer $936,397 from decertified tax-increment financing districts into a newly established “Broadband Enterprise Fund.”

It’s a step but not a commitment…

He went on to say: “This action does not commit the council or the city to moving the pilot forward. It does not commit the council or the city to approve that pilot. But we can’t bring you a funding package if we don’t have a place to put the funding.”

Yet another $1 million in federal pandemic-relief funding from the America Rescue Plan Act had already been funneled into the broadband fund, as the result of a Dec. 5 council resolution.

More info…

If approved, a proposed $5.5 million pilot project in Lincoln Park could lead to the installation of a city-owned high-speed fiber optic network that would provide access to multiple internet service providers. The open-access system is intended to foster competition, delivering faster, more reliable service at a more affordable cost to consumers.

The city continues to pursue state and federal assistance, as it prepares for a possible foray into the internet business.

 

More info on Hennepin County border to border grant

Press & News reports

Nearly $2 million in Minnesota Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grants will move $6 million in broadband infrastructure projects forward in the cities of Corcoran and Rogers. These projects will enhance digital access for residents and businesses in these underserved areas of Hennepin County District 7.

The grants will defray some of the expenses to building out broadband infrastructure in rural areas, where lower population densities often make such projects cost prohibitive. The funding addresses not only unserved areas which do not have internet access, but also underserved customers which experience slow speeds that make using the internet difficult.

More details…

In Corcoran the total investment is $4.3 million with approximately $3 million in from the city, county and Comcast and $1.3 added from the awarded grant. The project will add a list mile of fiber that will provide or enhance service for:

  • 197 unserved households and 253 underserved households
  • Five unserved businesses and 30 underserved businesses
  • Six unserved farms, and five underserved farms

In Rogers the total investment is $1.6 million with $964,584 from the city, county and Comcast and $643,056 in grant funds. Comcast’s existing network will be extended to:

  • 86 unserved households and 66 underserved households
  • One unserved business and one underserved business and
  • 11 unserved farms

 

Review Your Broadband Map to Improve Border-to-Border Access: from Office of Broadband Development

This is a guest post of sorts from By Bree Maki, Executive Director of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Office of Broadband Development…

Recently, Governor Tim Walz announced that internet providers will receive nearly $100 million in funding to expand broadband coverage to more Minnesotans.  This largest-ever grant round is estimated to extend new high-speed internet connections to more than 33,000 Minnesota homes and businesses in 48 counties.

At the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Office of Broadband Development, we’re working hard to get broadband to more Minnesotans who need it. Now, we need your help to make that a reality.

As part of the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, $65 billion in funding is available to states for broadband. We’re excited to implement the bill’s programs, but much of our funding relies on a new mapping project from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to show where broadband is and is not available.

The FCC is accepting challenges to their new map right now, and we encourage all Minnesotans to review the map to see if the broadband speeds shown to be available at their address are correct. Local review of the broadband maps is important, as residents know best if the mapping information is accurate. Minnesotans can go to broadbandmap.fcc.gov to review their map and provide feedback.

To review the map, type in your address. Your home should appear on the map along with a list of services that providers claim to have available for purchase at your location. If your location is missing or inaccurately reflected on the map, you can submit a location challenge to correct it. If the information about the service provided is incorrect, you can file an availability challenge. Detailed video instructions on how to file a challenge can be found at fcc.gov/BroadbandData/consumers.

Our goal is border-to-border broadband coverage across Minnesota. Future federal funding will be allotted based on the number of locations in Minnesota that do not have broadband services available right now. To ensure valid challenges are incorporated into the map before federal funding allocations are made, Minnesotans have until Jan. 13, 2023 to submit feedback.

This year, between 240,000 and 291,000 households in Minnesota lacked access to high-speed broadband. So much of what we do happens online, which is why we want to ensure all Minnesotans have access to high-speed internet.

All Minnesotans deserve equal access to high-speed broadband. If you have any questions, please reach out to the Office of Broadband at 651-259-7610 or deed.broadband@state.mn.us

Broadband is “not one of the worst” investments in Minnesota

The Center Square offers one of the most Minnesotan of all compliments…

Minnesota will award $27 million in state funding and $42.6 million in federal funding to broadband expansion projects across the state.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development on Monday launched a request for proposals for the funding. The funding supports the state’s goal that all homes and businesses have access `to broadband with download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 20 megabits per second by 2026, the news release said.

“I’d say that this is not one of the worst ways for the government to spend money,” Center of the American Experiment Economist John Phelan told The Center Square in an emailed statement Dec. 20. “Unlike most spending that gets called ‘investment,’ this actually is investment in the sense that it ought to increase the economy’s productive capacity and generate a return.”

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe awarded $18 million in federal Internet for All 

NTIA announces

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced today it has awarded 2 grants as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP). These new grants, totaling more than $36 million, bring the total of the program to over $1.73 billion awarded to 132 Tribal entities. With funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, these grants will expand high-speed Internet service network deployment and digital skills training to improve access to education, jobs, and healthcare on Tribal lands.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to connecting all Tribal communities to affordable and reliable high-speed Internet service,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Our Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program is continuing its historic and unprecedented commitment to close the digital divide by investing in Native communities.”

Tribes in two states received grants – Hawaii and Minnesota.

More info on the project in Minnesota…

Applicant – Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
Project Type – Broadband Infrastructure Deployment
Funding Amount – $18,797,452
Description – The Broadband Infrastructure Deployment project proposes to install fiber and fixed wireless to directly connect 4,399 unserved Native American households with qualifying broadband service (fiber to the home service up to 100/40 Gbps and wireless service up to 80/20 Mbps).

DEED Announces Next Round of Historic Broadband Expansion Funding

Here’s the official word from the Office of Broadband Development…

RFP process will award $67.6 million to broadband expansion projects across Minnesota

St. Paul – Building on this month’s historic Border-to-Border broadband grant announcement, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) today launched a Request for Proposals (RFP) to award $67.6 million in broadband grants across the state.

This new grant round comprises $25 million in state funding and $42.6 million from the federal government. It further accelerates the Border-to-Border program in pursuit of Minnesota’s 2026 goal that all homes and businesses have access to broadband with download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 20 megabits per second.

Eligible broadband providers can use grant funding to reimburse up to half the cost of broadband infrastructure deployed. Funding for a single project is capped at $5 million. Applications must be received by March 2, 2023. Grants will be awarded in early summer.

“Broadband access and adoption are critical for workers, education, healthcare and our business community,” said DEED Deputy Commissioner Kevin McKinnon. “We are working hard to provide this resource across the state and to all Minnesotans.”

On December 8, 2022, Governor Walz announced $99.6 million in broadband grants for 61 projects in 48 counties, expected to connect to more than 33,000 Minnesota homes and businesses to high-speed broadband. It was the largest single investment in broadband in Minnesota history; before then, DEED had awarded nearly $130 million in Border-to-Border grants to connect more than 57,000 homes and businesses around Minnesota to high-speed broadband since the program’s inception in 2014.

“Public-private partnerships like the Border-to-Border program are a proven, effective way to make high-speed, high-quality broadband available to more Minnesotans,” said Bree Maki, Executive Director of DEED’s Office of Broadband Development. “Earlier this month we awarded grants to dozens of projects to benefit 33,000 Minnesota homes and business, and this new grant round will further extend that impact.”

Requirements and application materials for this competitive grant program are available on DEED’s website.

DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. For more details about the agency and its services, visit the DEED website, the JoinUsMn.com website, or follow us on Twitter.

Hennepin County Commission talks about MN Broadband grant in Rogers and Corcoran

CCX Media reports

The cities of Rogers and Corcoran also received news that they would be getting broadband service, with funding coming from grants and Hennepin County.

“Residents are going to be connected where they haven’t had service, and there’s a lot of resources coming this way to make that a reality for a lot of people,” said Anderson. “We know, especially through the pandemic, that internet is not a luxury. It’s not something that we can claim as nice to have. It is absolutely a requirement for modern life.”

Next Round Border to Border grant applications are open until March 2, 2023

The Office of Broadband Development has opened up the next round of grant funding

In the 2022 legislative session, the legislature directed an additional $60.7 million of federal ARPA funds to be used for broadband programs of which $42.6 million will be available for Border-to-Border grants, including up to $30 million for a Low-Density Pilot program. Additionally in the 2022 session, the legislature allocated $25 million in State General Revenue Funds to the Border-to-Border grant program for FY24.

With the $25 million in State General Revenue Funding and $42 million in Capital Projects Funds, DEED opened the application window for the 2023 grant round on December 19, 2022. A maximum of $67 million will be available for grants this round, including up to $30 million for a Low-Density Pilot program. Applications are due by 4:00 p.m. on March 2, 2023.

OBD intends to follow state law guidelines for the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program, while building in any measures necessary to comply with federal requirements associated with use of the Capital Projects Fund for the 2023 grant round. Grants awarded will either be entirely funded with State General Revenue Funds or ARPA Capital Projects Funds for ease of implementation and compliance.

The 2023 Application Process tab below provides additional detail on the current grant round. The remaining tabs provide information on the 2022 grant awards and grants awarded during the first six years the program was offered (2014-2017, 2019-2020).

Please continue to visit this page of the Office of Broadband Development website to stay up to date on the Border-to-Border Broadband Infrastructure grant program or Sign Up For Broadband Updates.

More info on MN Broadband grants in Nicollet County

St Peter Herald reports

A proposal to connect up to 23 unserved and 68 under-served locations in rural Nicollet County to high speed internet is ready to launch with the backing of the state of Minnesota.

Nuvera’s planned fiber-optic network, serving rural Nicollet County east of Courtland and south of Swan Lake along and south of Hwy. 24 was one of 61 projects benefiting from nearly $100 million in state Border to Border grants.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development awarded a $479,000 grant to the $950,000 million project, which will offer 1 Gbps upstream and downstream connection speeds to a swath of unserved residences, businesses and farms.

With the funding, Nuvera will be expanding its service in Nicollet County and connecting fiber to homes and businesses within the build area. …

Nuvera’s construction timeline is yet to be determined.

Ribbon cutting in Hawick to celebrate ARPA funded broadband project (Kandiyohi)

KWLM radio in Willmar reports

The ribbon was cut Wednesday on another high-speed internet project in Kandiyohi County…

…Willmar and Kandiyohi County Economic Development Commission Director Aaron Backman says Hawick was able to use Federal ARPA funds for the project. Backman says The Kandiyohi County Board decided to use most of the ARPA funds for broadband projects, like the one they cut the ribbon on in Prinsburg earlier this month…

…The State of Minnesota this month announced 100 million dollars in Border to Border Broadband Grants, including a 4.9 million dollar grant to go toward a project that will be built by Federated Telephone starting this spring in Mamre, St. Johns, Arctander, Dovre and Lake Andrew Townships, which will provide or improve internet service to 640 homes, farms and businesses.

FCC announces latest RDOF winners – None in Minnesota

The FCC reports

By this Public Notice, the Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB), in conjunction with the Office of Economics and Analytics (OEA), authorizes Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (Auction 904) support for the winning bids identified in Attachment A of this Public Notice.
For each of the winning bids identified in Attachment A, we have reviewed the long-form application information, including the letter(s) of credit and Bankruptcy Code opinion letter(s) from the long-form applicant’s legal counsel. Based on the representations and certifications in the relevant long-form application, we authorize and obligate support for the winning bids listed in Attachment A.

How much will it cost to deploy ubiquitous broadband in your MN County? Check the table

I am working on the annual broadband county profiles and I built a table (with the help of Mary Magnuson) that I had to share. It guestimates the cost to deploy ubiquitous broadband in Minnesota ($2.7 billion) and I was able to determine how much is would cost for each county.

I figured out the number of households in each county without broadband based on percentages (and populations) from the Office of Broadband Development. I was in the MN Broadband Task Force meeting where they determined that the average cost to reach these last homes is $9300 each. That number is not far off what it has been in the past. So I multiplied number of households by $9300 to come up with the guestimate. Clearly some houses will cost more and some will cost less but the totals are sobering for most counties.

It has been said, here are other places, that unprecedented amounts of money are being invested in broadband in the next few years, but the numbers I have seen have been more like $650 million not $2.7 billion. This is a reminder that those who are prepared will get the funding. Let’s be prepared Minnesota!

I will paste the table below but you can also download it in Excel.

County Housing Unit Density Number of Housing Units 100/20 Mbps houses unserved Cost to close the gap
Aitkin 7.9 13,944 60.36 5527  $       51,404,834.88
Anoka 309.3 138,017 96.64 4637  $       43,127,552.16
Becker 13.6 19,620 78.45 4228  $       39,321,423.00
Beltrami 7.0 21,271 98.86 242  $         2,255,151.42
Benton 41.9 17,315 89.94 1742  $       16,199,567.70
Big Stone 5.6 2,982 97.09 87  $            807,018.66
Blue Earth 38.0 29,169 81.88 5285  $       49,154,432.04
Brown 19.0 11,780 79.96 2361  $       21,954,621.60
Carlton 17.9 15,688 48.71 8046  $       74,831,289.36
Carver 107.4 40,380 93.2 2746  $       25,536,312.00
Cass 9.9 23,872 56.37 10415  $       96,862,788.48
Chippewa 9.6 5,627 80.55 1094  $       10,178,398.95
Chisago 50.4 22,294 73.63 5879  $       54,674,028.54
Clay 25.5 26,844 92.06 2131  $       19,822,146.48
Clearwater 4.3 4,448 98.85 51  $            475,713.60
Cook 1.8 5,936 90.95 537  $         4,996,034.40
Cottonwood 7.9 5,152 67.02 1699  $       15,801,905.28
Crow Wing 35.9 41,568 87.51 5192  $       48,284,141.76
Dakota 295.4 173,469 96.82 5516  $       51,301,722.06
Dodge 18.8 8,291 84.2 1310  $       12,182,795.40
Douglas 30.2 21,769 74.59 5532  $       51,442,976.97
Faribault 9.6 6,916 72.68 1889  $       17,571,896.16
Fillmore 11.1 9,583 64.95 3359  $       31,237,225.95
Freeborn 19.5 14,114 86.36 1925  $       17,903,891.28
Goodhue 26.7 20,864 78.56 4473  $       41,601,146.88
Grant 5.5 3,155 77.71 703  $         6,540,220.35
Hennepin 915.6 555,779 98.69 7281  $       67,710,555.57
Houston 15.3 8,731 82.98 1486  $       13,819,950.66
Hubbard 14.7 14,705 90.07 1460  $       13,579,920.45
Isanti 36.6 16,550 50.09 8260  $       76,818,976.50
Itasca 8.7 25,375 85.5 3679  $       34,218,187.50
Jackson 6.8 4,891 61.98 1860  $       17,293,891.26
Kanabec 14.5 7,735 23.46 5920  $       55,059,431.70
Kandiyohi 23.1 19,950 68.18 6348  $       59,037,237.00
Kittson 2.1 2,272 87.57 282  $         2,626,409.28
Koochiching 2.3 7,402 72.3 2050  $       19,068,292.20
Lac qui Parle 4.5 3,471 99.86 5  $              45,192.42
Lake 2.4 7,311 84.15 1159  $       10,776,779.55
Lake of the Woods 1.9 3,391 74.26 873  $         8,117,443.62
Le Sueur 27.0 12,811 74.92 3213  $       29,880,888.84
Lincoln 5.6 3,051 99.99 0  $                 2,837.43
Lyon 15.5 11,180 84.27 1759  $       16,355,110.20
McLeod 31.3 15,820 75.48 3879  $       36,075,295.20
Mahnomen 4.4 2,550 70.81 744  $         6,922,408.50
Marshall 2.4 4,416 82.9 755  $         7,022,764.80
Martin 13.3 9,748 67.03 3214  $       29,889,415.08
Meeker 16.4 10,576 72.85 2871  $       26,703,871.20
Mille Lacs 18.8 12,786 66.71 4256  $       39,585,072.42
Morrison 13.9 16,074 77.57 3605  $       33,530,203.26
Mower 23.7 16,928 83.25 2835  $       26,369,592.00
Murray 6.1 4,388 51.38 2133  $       19,841,044.08
Nicollet 28.6 13,371 77.29 3037  $       28,239,953.13
Nobles 11.6 8,394 80.27 1656  $       15,402,066.66
Norman 3.7 3,230 55.52 1437  $       13,361,347.20
Olmsted 105.6 69,270 94.38 3893  $       36,204,658.20
Otter Tail 16.4 36,506 70.54 10755  $    100,018,408.68
Pennington 10.7 6,639 99.4 40  $            370,456.20
Pine 11.8 16,886 35.1 10959  $    101,918,830.20
Pipestone 9.3 4,337 80.7 837  $         7,784,481.30
Polk 7.3 14,623 95.24 696  $         6,473,309.64
Pope 8.9 6,367 79.15 1328  $       12,345,931.35
Ramsey 1343.8 228,546 99.63 846  $         7,864,267.86
Red Lake 4.3 1,876 100 0  $                             –
Redwood 8.0 7,086 48.35 3660  $       34,037,246.70
Renville 7.0 6,913 70.79 2019  $       18,779,371.89
Rice 48.4 25,018 85.23 3695  $       34,364,974.98
Rock 8.7 4,222 99.9 4  $              39,264.60
Roseau 4.2 7,137 90.71 663  $         6,166,153.89
St. Louis 15.1 103,681 74.89 26034  $    242,118,981.63
Scott 148.3 54,658 92.04 4351  $       40,462,224.24
Sherburne 79.6 35,909 82.82 6169  $       57,373,245.66
Sibley 10.7 6,454 65.63 2218  $       20,629,630.14
Stearns 47.3 65,684 84.69 10056  $       93,522,849.72
Steele 36.2 15,691 88.28 1839  $       17,102,562.36
Stevens 7.3 4,213 97.08 123  $         1,144,082.28
Swift 6.2 4,693 97.5 117  $         1,091,122.50
Todd 13.0 12,770 47.52 6702  $       62,325,772.80
Traverse 3.2 1,877 67.5 610  $         5,673,232.50
Wabasha 18.5 10,158 71.24 2921  $       27,169,399.44
Wadena 12.8 6,939 98.88 78  $            722,766.24
Waseca 18.2 7,895 75.12 1964  $       18,267,766.80
Washington 245.6 104,014 93.59 6667  $       62,005,865.82
Watonwan 11.1 4,874 71.06 1411  $       13,117,981.08
Wilkin 4.0 2,972 77.48 669  $         6,224,437.92
Winona 33.8 21,716 85.62 3123  $       29,041,675.44
Wright 76.2 54,467 78.02 11972  $    111,338,173.38
Yellow Medicine 5.9 4,513 58.17 1888  $       17,556,427.47
 $ 2,706,078,925.98