Kandiyohi County supports three Border to Border grants

The West Central Tribune reports on three projects Kandiyohi Board of Commissioners decided to support for Border to Border grants…

A motion by Nissen 2nd Anderson to authorize a Letter of Support from the Board to be included in Charter Communications. lnc.’s application to the Border-to-Border application was on vote unanimously adopted. A motion by Imdieke 2nd Gardner to authorize a Letter of Support from the Board for Federated Telephone’s Cooperative’s application as the Primary project application for the Kandiyohi Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program was on vote unanimously adopted. A motion by Anderson 2nd Berg to authorize a Letter of Support from the Board to be included in Frontier Communications of Minnesota’s application to the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program was on vote unanimously adopted.

MN may see $650M for broadband but expected cost to deploy is $1.3B

MinnPost reports

Minnesota could be in line for an unprecedented windfall of money to help build high-speed internet in rural areas.

Every state was promised a minimum of $100 million for broadband development from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed by Congress late last year. But some states could get more, based on need.

Now, Minnesota officials have an estimate of that extra cash: $550 million. That would bring Minnesota up to $650 million for broadband from the infrastructure bill, a sum that would far eclipse any government spending in the state for developing high-speed internet in recent memory.

There’s federal funding…

The $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill — passed with some bipartisan support under President Joe Biden — contained $65 billion for broadband across the country. Of that, $42.5 billion was earmarked for states to distribute. But so far each state has known only that they would get a minimum of $100 million. …

The feds have previously outlined several potential purposes for the money, including allowing states to install Wi-Fi in multi-unit residential buildings. But Wells said Minnesota’s money is expected to be spent entirely on “deployment” of internet, primarily subsidizing the development of infrastructure — traditionally, fiber-optic cable — in places where it would be too expensive for internet providers to otherwise justify.

And State (directed) funding…

Legislators this year directed the state to use $110 million from the American Rescue Plan stimulus program passed under Biden for broadband infrastructure. In 2021, the Legislature approved $70 million from the plan for broadband development. That was already a large sum compared to historic spending on broadband.

How much would it cost to get broadband to all Minnesotans?

In October, the state estimated about 88.5 percent of Minnesotans have access to wireline internet like DSL, cable and fiber at speeds of 100/20 Mbps. And in March, before the Legislature approved $110 million for broadband, DEED officials said they would conservatively estimate the cost of meeting the 2026 goal for adequate broadband at $1.3 billion.

Gardonville applies for Border to Border grants for Carlos and Nelson MN (Douglas County)

The Alexandria Echo reports on Border to Border grant applications from Gardonville for areas around Carlos and Nelson…

That could change in a year or to if internet provider Gardonville Telecommunications receives a state Border-to-Border grant to supply broadband internet access to more than 1,100 homes and businesses around Carlos and Nelson. It would provide up to 1 gigabyte download and upload.

Over the past several years, Gardonville has applied for 12 Border-to-Border grants and won seven, said Dave Wolf, the company’s general manager and CEO.

“If we are awarded grants in these project areas, we would begin construction in the spring of 2023,” Wolf said. “We are already buying material, planning the construction, lining up financing and crossing our fingers.”

The area the company is targeting are northwest of Carlos , on the northeast side of Lake Le Homme Dieu , and around Nelson .

If Gardonville gets the grant, the first homes and businesses would be online by mid-June of 2023, he said. He added that projects of this size can take up to two construction seasons to finish.

2022 Border-to-Border Grant Application Projects Added as Layer to Interactive Map

News from the Office of Broadband Development…

The 2022 Minnesota Border-to-Border Broadband Grant application locations are now available as a layer on our Minnesota map. The layer is configured with the Applicant’s name, Project name and Highest speed available to all.

Check out the Minnesota Broadband Map with layers

To view the layers on the map, click the checkbox next to the “2022 Applications-Border to Border Program” and the layer will light up on the map. This layer can be found near the top of the upper left menu panel under the default Access tab.

The download can be accessed by clicking on the Downloads tab in the upper right hand menu panel and is the first option “2022 Grant Applications (Shapefile)”.

To view a specific project for challenge purposes, click on an application and the Applicant name, Project name, and Highest speed available to all will pop-up.

Reminder: Challenges to 2022 Border-to-Border Applications Due September 8

Reminder: A challenging provider must submit its challenge via email to deed.broadband@state.mn.us no later than 4:00 p.m. Central Time, September 8, 2022.

Mille Lacs County support SCI’s Border to Border grant application

Mille Lacs Messenger reports

The Mille Lacs County Board of Commissioners signed a letter in support of broadening the county’s broadband options at their regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 9.

SCI Broadband has put in a grant application to the Office of Broadband Development, which has a Border-to-Border Broadband Development program. According to the letter signed by County Chair Genny Reynolds, “SCI Broadband is proposing to build out a Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) to rural residents, businesses, and farms in South Harbor, Isle Harbor, Lewis, and Eastside townships in Mille Lacs County.”

The State of Minnesota has broadband goals in place, which state two goals: The first, that “no later than 2022, all Minnesota businesses and homes have access to high-speed broadband … [with] minimum download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second …” The second is, by 2026, for businesses and homes to “have access to at least one provider of broadband with download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second …”

Reynolds’ letter says the proposed project from SCI Broadband would “exceed” those state goals. Currently, “nearly 40 percent of households in Mille Lacs County lack access” to broadband that would meet the state’s goals for 2026.

Rogers City Council approves Border o Border grant application (Hennepin County)

Hometown Source reports on applications to the Border to Border program. One caveat, the reporter seems to think that applying implies immediately funding. I love the optimism but what it really means is they may get funding to upgrade 165 rural Rogers households…

Broadband capabilities will come to 165 rural Rogers households, as a result of action taken by the Rogers City Council on Aug. 10.

The council approved a $40,191 matching grant for Minnesota DEED (Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development) Broadband grant application in partnership with Comcast Communications and Hennepin County Supporting Broadband Grant.

City Administrator Steve Stahmer said the staff and council “have worked for years with our local cable companies and county and state representatives in an effort to facilitate the expansion of broadband internet access to unserved/underserved areas of Rogers.”

The city agreed to provide 2.5% of the total project cost of $1.6 million.

The city of Corcoran currently is working with Hennepin County and Comcast on a similar project, Stahmer said

“This came to light during the pandemic,” Mayor Rick Ihli said. “It became a big issue for a lot of families. We need to get the project going. It’s quite needed.”

Paul Bunyan may have Gig access to Cook MN before the end of the year (St Louis County)

The Timberjay reports…

Faster internet may be coming to Cook sooner than anticipated, as Paul Bunyan Communications announced on Tuesday that there’s a good chance the system will be installed this fall, rather than next spring.
“It looks like our Cook project is going to go ahead earlier than expected,” Paul Bunyan CEO Steve Howard told the Timberjay on Tuesday. “It’s still tentative. We originally were planning to start work there late this year and then finish up next year. But the weather’s been cooperative, and things are lining up nicely to potentially start working on that project as soon as right after Labor Day, and we very likely would finish this year.”
Bemidji-based Paul Bunyan Communications received a $311,000 state Border-to-Border grant to partially fund deployment of their fiber optics GigaZone network in the community in February 2021, and after minor changes to the original proposal were approved by the Cook City Council that March, the project was slated to be completed in spring 2023. Outside of an $8,000 contribution from the city of Cook, Paul Bunyan will foot the bill for the remainder of the $700,000-plus project.

Duluth pursues Border to Border grant for Lincoln Park

The Duluth News Tribune reports

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson this summer proposed a pilot project to bring faster, more affordable broadband internet service first to Lincoln Park. And last month, as the News Tribune reported, the City Council gave the go-ahead for city administration to apply for a $3.2 million state Broadband Development Grant to help fund the proposal. Councilors expressed discomfort, however, with withdrawing $5 million from Duluth’s Community Investment Trust to help fund the project, which is expected to cost $7 million to $9 million total. If Duluth is successful in securing the requested state grant, there’s confidence in City Hall that there are other financial paths for the pilot project without having to dip into the Community Investment Fund.

135 Border-to-Border Broadband Applications Received—Challenge Process Begins

An update from the Office of Broadband Development…

One hundred and thirty-five (135) applications for the 2022 Border-to-Border Broadband Development grant program were received by the August 4th deadline. The Office of Broadband Development has initiated the challenge process required by Minnesota law (Minn. Stat. 116J.395 subd. 5a) concurrent with its review of the applications. A list of the applications filed and instructions on how to file a challenge, if necessary, are available on our website and under the “2022 Application Process” tab.  Any challenges must be submitted via email to deed.broadband@state.mn.us by 4:00 p.m. Thursday, September 8, 2022.

If you have any questions, please contact our office at 651-259-7610 or via email at deed.broadband@state.mn.us.

Le Sueur County and Bevcomm are applying for Border to Border funds – again post-RDOF issues

Le Sueur County News posts an update of what’s happening with broadband plans in the county since they last applied for MN State Border to Border grants and were disqualified because they were in an area where LTD Broadband had subsequently been awarded an opportunity to apply for federal (RDOF)…

After two years of being walled off from state broadband dollars, Le Sueur County is reviving efforts to bring high speed internet to nearly 250 rural households.

At the July 26 Le Sueur County Board of Commissioners meeting, Broadband Initiative Coordinator Barbara Droher-Kline announced local internet service provider Bevcomm would be seeking a Border-to-Border grant to expand high speed internet service to 152 homes in Montgomery Township 89 homes in Lexington Township and 6 homes in Sharon Township.

Le Sueur County agreed to dedicate $350,000 toward the project with Montgomery, Lexington and Sharon townships compensating the county $1,500 per home in their respective territories.

The county has attempted to lift the project off the ground since September of 2020. Back then, Bevcomm requested $300,000 in matching funds from the county to build a $1.6 million fiber optic network providing 1 Gbps speeds to 239 homes.

The network was to build off of Bevcomm’s existing fiber optic network, constructed in partnership with Le Sueur County and a $2 million Border-to-Border grant in 2020.

Morrison County Commissioner support Border to Border grant from Charter Communications

Hometown Source reports

Some residents of Green Prairie, Little Falls and Pike Creek townships may soon have another option for broadband internet service.

Tuesday, Morrison County Administrator Matt LeBlanc told the Board of Commissioners that he had recently been contracted by the director of government affairs with Charter Communications. She informed him that the company was looking to extend fiber optic broadband service to 474 locations within the county.

“That stretches from approximately midway up Camp Ripley — everything’s on the west side of the river — down to kind of the parallel line of Sobieski, but again, tight to the river through the county, skipping over Little Falls,” Le-Blanc said. “It’s a $3 million project that Charter would be looking to do.”

Her purpose for contacting LeBlanc was to ask for the County Board to provide a letter of support on Charter’s behalf. In order to do the project, the company is applying for a Border to Board Broadband grant from the Minnesota Department of Economic Development.

He said a timeframe on the potential project would likely be contingent on successful receipt of the grant for Charter.

The Board unanimously encouraged LeBlanc to send the letter of support in hopes of getting the project done.

Kandiyohi County Commissioners support three Border ro Border grant applications

The West Central Tribune reports…

At Tuesday’s Kandiyohi County Board meeting, the commissioners approved submitting three letters of support toward three broadband projects hoping to be awarded state Border-to-Border grant funds. An update on projects was also given at the meeting.

It took much longer than anyone wanted, but applications for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program through the state Department of Employment and Economic Development are finally being accepted. By the due date of Thursday, at least three of those applications will be coming from Kandiyohi County.

The County has also invested ARPA money…

When the county received its more than $8 million in American Rescue Plan Act coronavirus relief funds, the board made the commitment to earmark around 75% of those monies for broadband. So far, the board has approved allocations to several projects across the county.

Some details…

At Tuesday’s meeting of the County Board, the commissioners approved signing and sending three letters of support to DEED for three different broadband projects. Border-to-Border awards grants of up to $5 million or 50% of the project cost, whichever is less. This year, there is approximately $95 million in funds available, thanks to an influx of cash from both the state’s general fund and from the federal government.

The county’s primary project, which is made clear in the letters of support, is the Kandiyohi County West project, that would bring fiber broadband to 645 locations in Dovre, Mamre, St. Johns and Arctander townships. The project is estimated to cost more than $9.8 million, and the EDC Broadband Committee is asking for $4.5 million from the DEED program.

“We are asking for that full 50%,” said Sarah Swedburg, business development manager with the EDC. “We need every penny that the state can give us.”

Martin County Commissioners support Frontier’s Border to Border application for Fairmont, Northrop and Ceylon

The Fairmont Sentinel reports

The Martin County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday heard from Scott Bohler of Frontier Communications, Inc. who asked for a letter of support from the county for the grant application to the DEED- Office of Broadband, Minnesota Border to Border Grant Program.

The proposed project would cover about 500 locations in the Fairmont, Northrop and Ceylon area.

Commissioner Kathy Smith asked if the proposal was brought to the broadband committee. Bohler said the specifics haven’t been presented to them.

The commissioners noted that the city of Ceylon has already received a broadband grant and has been working with Federated on a project. Bohler said they had designed the project based off of the areas that the state program identified as eligible for funding.

There was some back and forth in part because the area in question had already received funding but also because Frontier was interested in covering the city only and the Board wanted the whole area to be covered. In the end, the Board decided to support the project…

Smith asked about the $3.5 million project Frontier did in 2016. Bohler said the expectations have changed from then to now.

Bohler said that the grant needs to be applied for by Thursday this week. Commissioner Elliot Belgard noted that Frontier could apply for it without a letter of support from the county.

“I don’t think supporting it can necessarily be a bad thing. If it’s not worthy we’ll let the committee that decides who gets the grants say it’s not worthy, not us,” said Belgard.

Smith made a motion to approve of the letter of support for Frontier.

Kandiyohi County taking more steps toward the Border to Border grant application

The West Central Tribune reports

High-speed broadband internet expansion continues to be a major priority for the Kandiyohi County Board. The commissioner will receive an update on where projects stand and consider sending out letters of support to be included in the county’s Border to Border grant application.

The board meeting begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the board chambers at the Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services building in Willmar.

Mower County looking at using RODF, ARPA and Border to Border funds to improve broadband access

Gov Tech reports on Mower County’s plans for better broadband. It reads like alphabet soup with a mix of RDOF, ARPA and BTB funds, which is both of sign of the complexity and availability of various funding sources right now. If you’re community needs better access and they aren’t looking into options like these you should ask why. There’s a lot of money being invested right now but that won’t go on forever…

During the Mower County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, County Administrator Trish Harren laid out where the county currently stands in getting better broadband Internet coverage for the county.

As of last year, nearly 85% of the county’s residents had access to broadband, but that access is mostly condensed to high population densities, which includes Austin and small town areas.

More detail…

While 85% of the population is served, however, nearly 90% of the geographical makeup of Mower remains underserved.
That leaves large swaths of the county with either spotty coverage or no coverage at all.
However, a pair of funding opportunities are allowing the county some flexibility in terms of filling out that coverage.
Through the Federal Communications Commission’s based Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) and Minnesota Border to Border (BTB) grants, Mower County is hoping to spread that access even further.
The RDOF uses an auction format where the winner of a reverse bidding process agrees to build out for a certain amount of money. In Mower County, LTD Communications was a top 10 bidder at $1.3 billion. They are also the largest provider in this area. Charter Communications had a bid of $1.2 billion
BTB runs through a grant process with a well of $95 billion to draw from in grant money. Grant applications for that program are due by Aug. 4.

And info on specific, proposed projects…

The northeast LTD project would come in at an estimated $2.45 million and would lay 82 miles of fiber over an area north of Grand Meadow and stretching east to parts surrounding Racine. It would also include 376 passings, or physical locations where residences and businesses would hardwire into the fiber network.
The southwest project would lay 138 miles of fiber with 209 passings at an estimated cost of $3.5 million over an area south of Austin and stretching east to the Rose Creek area.
Charter will also be part of this BTB project, serving an area to the south of Austin where LTD doesn’t serve. Its side of the overall project will include 99 passings coming in at around $677,000.
In order to form a partnership with projects coming out of the RDOF and the BTB programs, the county has agreed to set aside $750,000 in ARPA money of which $585,000 will be committed to the LTD projects and $99,000 will be committed to the Charter project.