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.
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.
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.
This post is to help spread the word in St Louis County for a fun event. If you’re outside of St Louis County, this point is to spread the word on a good idea.
The folks in Pike Township are holding a virtual letter writing party to invite residents to write letters to support their Border to Border grant application. They are working with Paul Bunyan Communications. What a fun way to get people involved and excited for broadband. Gone are the days when half the battle was getting the locals excited but never gone is the advantage of a community that is excited to subscribe.
This is a reach out to folks in Redwood County and a possible idea for other counties. Redwood County is working with Arvig on a Border to Border grant. The County EDA has been working on a broadband vision…
Every resident and business in Redwood County will have access to an affordable, reliable, high-speed internet connection delivered by committed community partners skilled in operating and maintaining a successful fiber broadband network.
And a place for Redwood County residents to engage. Folks are invited to take the broadband survey or send in their personal message about broadband need. It’ll be a great accompaniment to their grant application as well as providing insight into need.
Thomson Township supervisors made a resolution of support and pledged $187,500 to two broadband initiatives in the area during a meeting Thursday, July 21.
The two initiatives include a Mediacom broadband expansion and joining the Cloquet broadband project, both of which are applying to secure state funding for their projects.
Leah Pykkonen, the township’s deputy clerk, presented the Mediacom proposal to the board and explained its benefits.
According to Pykkonen, the project would cover 420 homes in the northern part of the township and connect to the existing infrastructure.
They will be using ARPA funds…
Town Clerk Rhonda Peleski said the township has $565,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds, and some of it could be allocated for broadband expansion. …
After some deliberation between board members, they agreed on pledging $150,000 to the Mediacom project.
The Cloquet broadband project, which the supervisors also pledged support to, has a smaller scope for the township as it would only cover 92 homes.
With that in mind, Paulson said it would make sense to give the project 25% of the funding, $37,500, as it would be closer to an equal share compared to the number of homes covered with the Mediacom project.
KWLM in Willmar reports om the progress of Kandiyohi’s Border to Border grant…
Local economic development officials are applying for state money for a broadband expansion project on the western side of Kandiyohi County. Sarah Swedberg, Business Development Manager with the Willmar and Kandiyohi County EDC says if approved, the grant money will be used to lay down lines to improve internet access in an area north and west of Willmar.
If you live in in the area, you are invited to send letters of recommendation to be included in the application, which is due August 2.
After 15-minute discussion last Tuesday, the Sherburne County Board Tuesday approved three grant applications by Arvig for broadband projects in Haven Twp., Clear Lake Twp. and Elk River.
Arvig has requested to partner with Sherburne County on 2022 State of MN Border to Border Broadband program applications.
The grants are $666,406 for the Haven Twp. project, $192,477 in Clear Lake Twp. and $217,060.50 in Elk River. The board passed a resolution of commitment of 30% contribution for each project. Should Arvig be awarded any of the grants by the state, the county’s contribution (using ARPA funds) would be $499,804.50 for Haven Twp., $144,357.75 for Clear Lake Twp. and $162,795.38 for Elk River.
The projects would serve a total of 254 homes for the three projects combined.
The board tabled its decision on proposed broadband projects in Santiago Twp. and Becker Twp. until August.
Otter Tail County commissioners have pinpointed how to spend about half of the $11.4 million allocated to the county via the American Rescue Plan Act.
During the County Board meeting on Tuesday, July 12 resolutions on fund allocations were reviewed. The funds come with stipulations, such as to decrease the spread of the virus, replace lost revenue for governmental entities, economic stabilization and to address public health challenges.
Here’s the broadband related investment…
- $2.8 million (or technology) will go to technological infrastructure, such as broadband access expansion. It was noted the improvements in the county would also utilize state and federal sources.
- $150,000 was earmarked for funding a jobs portal for three years. The strategy supports efforts to attract new employees and by doing so support businesses in the county that provide a living wage.
MiBroadband has broken ground on installing a fiber network for southeastern Minnesota and northeast Iowa.
The company says it received a $1.1 million state grant and a $2.1 million local match to extend fiber communication service to 257 locations in southern Fillmore County.
“Building a fiber network is expensive for areas with lower population densities. Without the partnership with the State of Minnesota, Fillmore County, and the City of Preston this would not be happening,” says MiBroadband CEO Jill Huffman.
Regional provider Arvig and Redwood County, Minnesota, have agreed to work together on a $4.4 million public-private partnership to bring fiber to eight cities in the county.
The linchpin of the project will be approval of an application for a $1.3 million grant that Arvig and the county will make to the State of Minnesota Border to Border Broadband Development Grant program.
That funding would be supplemented by $1.2 million from Arvig and a local match of $1.9 million from the county. The county’s contribution will be money secured through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
If the Border to Border grant is received, the project will bring 1 Gbps connectivity to residential customers and 10 Gbps service to businesses in Belview, Clements, Morgan, Seaforth, Vesta, Wabasso, Walnut Grove and Wanda. More than 1,870 structures will be served, which represents about 30% of Redwood County residents.
If it goes forward, the Arvig public-private partnership project would be completed in June, 2025.
Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the approval of an additional group of four states under the American Rescue Plan’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund (CPF): Kansas, Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota. The CPF provides $10 billion to states, territories, freely associated states, and Tribal governments to fund critical capital projects that enable work, education, and health monitoring in response to the public health emergency. A key priority of the program is to make funding available for reliable, affordable broadband infrastructure and other digital connectivity technology projects. In addition to the $10 billion provided by the CPF, many governments are using a portion of their State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) toward meeting the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of connecting every American household to affordable, reliable high-speed internet. Through these two programs, the American Rescue Plan is supplying considerable federal broadband funding and laying the groundwork for future funding provided in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Here’s info on the award in Minnesota…
Minnesota, approved for $68.4 million (representing 38% of its available CPF funding), estimates it will connect 23,517 homes and businesses by using the funds for its Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program, a competitive grant program designed to provide financial resources for new and existing ISPs to invest in building broadband infrastructure in areas of the state that currently lack high-speed internet.
A local broadband company is hoping to take advantage of historic funding to help rural residents south of Courtland.
For the first time ever, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has been able to draw from multiple sources to increase its broadband grant funding, making it the largest amount of this kind of funding they’ve been able to award.
Now, New Ulm-based broadband provider Nuvera Communications is hoping the extra cash will help those in need.
Nuvera President and CEO Glenn Zerbe said one of the main targets for this funding, should it be awarded, would be about 90 to 100 homes south of Courtland.
“We’d be building fiber to their residence, so down their street and at their request from their street to their home at no charge,” he said.
They are hoping for $5 million and have county support…
Zerbe said in a normal year, the company receives between $1 million to $2 million in funding. He said the company is hoping to be awarded at least $5 million this year.
On Tuesday, Nicollet County commissioners voted to approve a letter of support for the grant application, which Zerbe said Nuvera will officially submit in the coming weeks. The letter helps show community interest in the process.
Zerbe said the “supersized” grant helps the company reach more people.
A new law containing appropriations for agriculture, drought relief and broadband internet will provide $50.9 million from the General Fund in the 2022-23 biennium and $32.5 million in the next biennium. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Mike Sundin (DFL-Esko) and Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake).
The [broadband] provisions taking place on Friday include:
$25 million from the General Fund to transfer to the Border-to-Border Broadband program, helping to bring broadband infrastructure to underserved communities
Broadband access in Duluth has been an ongoing headache for many residents and business owners.
Now, city leaders are working on a plan to address the problem.
They are going to pursue Border to Border funding…
“The City of Duluth is looking and proposing to City Council to go and seek some border to border grant funding to do a pilot project of fiber internet access here in Lincoln Park,” Nygren said.
Fiber internet access is faster than what is currently offered in Duluth — cable and satellite.
“Fiber is the difference between using a fire hose to get your internet access versus somebody’s garden hose,” said Nygren.
The plan doesn’t increase taxes.
Funding would come from grants, the community investment trust fund and a few other sources.
From the MN Office of Broadband Development…
Border-to-Border Application Frequently Asked Questions
Border-to-Border Broadband Application FAQs have been added to the Broadband website.
A reminder that June 23 is the Pre-Application Outreach deadline (only two weeks away). If you plan to submit a grant application, this outreach must be done by June 23.
Required Pre-Application Outreach to Other Providers
Minnesota law 116J.395, subd. 5(9) requires that an application include evidence that no later than six weeks before submission of the application the applicant contacted, in writing, all entities providing broadband service in the proposed project area to ask for each broadband service provider’s plan to upgrade broadband service in the project area to speeds that meet or exceed the state’s broadband speed goals in section 237.012, subd. 1, within the time frame specified in the proposed grant activities. The application is also to include the broadband providers written responses. This means that the required notification to other providers must be completed by June 23, 2022 for an application to be submitted by the last day of the filing window of August 4, 2022. This requirement is in statute and cannot be waived; an application that does not contain the necessary information will not be considered for funding.