Top reasons for great connectivity in the parks in Dakota County (or any place!)

campingDakota County has great wireless broadband in their parks. They just installed fiber at the Whitetail Woods Park and three wireless ports that support speeds from 40-60Mbps. It’s out near UMORE Park.

I’ve told a few folks and the common response seems to be why? So I’m going to do something different and just post my top ten reasons I think it’s great to have good, wireless broadband in the park.

  1. In case you get lost or injured. If you have a smartphone and can access the network, you can get help.
  2. Got community space to rent – having good access makes it much more attractive for a business retreat.
  3. Got a cabin to rent – having good access makes it possible for more people to stay longer. Yes, being off the gird can be nice but many people simply can’t leave work unattended for that long. Being able to check in a couple times a day can help many people extend a visit.
  4. Snap and post those pictures in real time. It makes a vacation with teens a lot easier! If it’s Instagram-worthy, it’s a vacation. (And great promotion for the park.)
  5. Look it up – find out what tree that is or what that rash could mean.
  6. Bring in the students – bring in their one-to-one iPads and make use of some fun outdoor adventure apps.
  7. Broadcast nature to the cubed masses. Several parks have webcams that broadband the nature to us – such as the Ely International Wolf Cam. They are popular, they build an interest and demand for the park.
  8. Internet of Thing can means remotely monitoring and managing park stuff from afar – turn on air conditioning, monitoring fire risk, warn for dangers.
  9. Apps for everyone. There are lake finder apps, star gazer apps, fishing and hunting license apps and more.

Want to be a gamer when you grow up? Here’s a MN resource to help.

It feels like “I want to be a gamer when I grow up” is a little bit like “I want to be an actor, firefighter or astronaut.” Yes – someone does grow up to become those things but for most, it’s impractical. Unless you have the support to help you hone the skills and lead the way.

Well, Minnesota has such a resource, a nonprofit called Glitch and they were recently featured in Duluth New Tribune

Headquartered on the University of Minnesota’s west bank, Glitch helps incipient game designers create, develop and publish games. The organization has helped designers throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas.

They have a number of opportunities to learn…

Glitch offers weekly events and has larger educational programs throughout the year. Its two-week Immersion program, occurring in January, takes a group of 20 people and asks them to stay awhile and listen — a joke any gamer should instantly get — as professionals educate them on a game development topic from start to finish. A past program resulted in an augmented reality game for the Minnesota Historical Society called Play the Past.

And they have the number indicating that there’s work to be had…

And there’s certainly money to be made. Video games have become a $16.8 billion revenue industry in the U.S. and generated $79.7 billion worldwide last year, according to the International Trade Administration. U.S. revenues are projected to increase by another $3 billion by 2019.

And Minnesota has at least a toehold in the industry…

Though the U.S. video game industry is generally established in California, Minnesota makes notable contributions. Game Informer magazine, a monthly video game publication, is based in Minneapolis and has a circulation of 6.3 million, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

Minnesota Iron Range Communities gear up for better broadband adoption

Yesterday six new Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC) – all from the Iron Range (so now they are IRBCs) – met to get started on their path to greater community broadband engagement.

The project born is of a partnership between Blandin, IRRRB (Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and St. Louis County). Yesterday they met to learn more about the IRBC program, the process and each other.

It’s a great group with a healthy competitive collaboration among them. Several communities have joined together as teams for the first time. It will be exciting to see what gets done in the area.

Below are videos from each community on their hopes and expectations for their projects.

New network providers may mean easier access to dark fiber in Southern MN

According to a press release (posted in Financial News)…

neutral-pathHurricane Electric, an IPv6-native Internet backbone, is collaborating with high-capacity communications transport service provider Neutral Path Communications to establish a new Point of Presence (PoP) within Neutral Path´s MSP1 facility, the company said.

The carrier-neutral MSP1 facility provides customers with direct access to Neutral Path Communications´ dark fiber backbone and additional fiber interconnects to a variety of providers.

The company´s underground backbone network spans over 1,300 route miles and over 110,000 fiber miles throughout the heart of the Midwest between key aggregation points in Denver, Omaha and Minneapolis. With the establishment of this latest PoP, Hurricane Electric is now one of ten additional Internet suppliers at this location.

According to their map (right) they are in Rochester, Minneapolis, Mankato Belle Plaine, LaSalle and Windom.

A press release from Neutral Path explains some of the benefits to local providers or providers with a local presence in terms of peering…



Broadband hot topic at MN Association of Townships

bill rightIn the midst of rain and snow and wind, township officials met in St. Cloud last week for their annual conference.  Broadband was the topic of choice.  I stared with the following introductory presentation…

Senator Amy Klobuchar, Danna MacKenzie and two panels of presenters talked about rural broadband challenges and solutions.  Blandin Foundation community partners Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Chisago County and Cloquet Valley Internet Initiative were all featured as was the USDA and Paul Bunyan Telephone Cooperative.  It was great to hear of the winning solutions that will result in Fiber to the Home networks at Fond du Lac and north central Minnesota.  The value of partial solutions was also highlighted recognizing that more work and some luck will be required to reach a full solution.  The Minnesota Association of Townships has been a strong partner in an alliance of rural stakeholder groups, all of which recognize the foundational necessity of rural broadband services.

Southwestern Minnesota Counties Working Together on Broadband

bill rightLincoln, Murray and Pipestone Counties are three rural counties that have decided to work together on better broadband.  The counties share a similar mix of small communities and big farms on the southwestern Minnesota prairie.  They also see a growing number of neighboring counties getting fiber to their homes and farms, including Lac qui Parle, Swift, Big Stone and Rock Counties.

The leadership of these counties, staff and elected leaders alike, are worried that current broadband is hindering economic growth and detracting from their ability to attract manufacturing firms, other businesses and, most importantly, people due to the lack of broadband services.  More than 60 people attended one or more of three meetings held in Ivanhoe, Pipestone and Slayton, including a variety of broadband providers.

Attendees learned about the financial and technical challenges of providing high speed broadband in areas with such low population densities.  Those who live behind trees or in low valleys talked about their discussions with providers and challenges of even receiving wireless services.  They learned about the promise of the Connect America Fund 2 and when improvements might be coming.  In the future days, leadership teams from the three counties will meet to discuss the meetings, the input from residents and businesses and next steps.  Each county had 15 or more volunteers ready to team with county staff and elected officials on prospective solutions, including investing their own dollars to make expanded broadband possible.

Economic Impact of Rural Telecommunications Industry in Minnesota? $900+ million

Last April I wrote about the Hudson Report on the Economic Impact of Rural Broadband Industry. But back then I only had the executive summary – not the full report. Recently I got the full report with details specific to Minnesota.

The report quantifies the impact rural telecom industry has on the economy nationally…

Rural broadband companies contributed $24.1 billion to the economies of the states in which they operated in 2015.  Of this, $17.2 billion was through their own operations and $6.9 billion was through the follow-on impact of their operations.  The total represents the amount added to the Gross Domestic Product by this set of firms.

And in Minnesota (in 2015)…

  • Direct Impact – $659.4 million
    Additional Impact – $251.8
    Total Impact – $911.3 million
  • Number of Jobs –  2,527
  • How much went into rural economies? $279.1 million
    How much went into urban economies? $632.2 million

They also report on Regional Input-Output Modeling System indicating that in Minnesota and the Rural Broadband industry:

  • Output is: 1.3819
  • Earnings is: 0.2373
  • Employment is: 4.7036

These numbers attempt to estimate how much a one-time or sustained increase in economic activity (such as State grants, CAF money, other inputs) will be supplied by industries located in the region.

I think it’s worth noting that investment in rural broadband does not benefit only rural economies. In fact, the urban economy gets the greatest boost. And investment yields output, earnings and employment.

It makes the case for public-private funding. The state benefits when jobs increase and funding is spent in other industries to support telecom and telecom companies benefit with added earnings.