Community Networks Quickstart Program – application deadline September 28

The Institute for Local Self Reliance introduces a new program…

Introducing the Community Networks Quickstart Program, Our New Service with NEO Partners

Determining if a publicly owned network is right for your community is a multi-step, complex process. Many factors will influence whether or not the residents, business owners, and local leaders in your community will want to make an investment in Internet access infrastructure.
ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative is now working with NEO Partners, LLC, to help local communities in the early phases as they consider investing in publicly owned infrastructure. Along with estimates for three different broadband approaches (Full Fiber-to-the-Premise model, Full wireless model, and a Hybrid approach), communities will receive advice and resources tailored to their needs. For a limited time, a few select communities will receive special pricing to help spread the word about the Community Networks Quickstart Program.

Communities of all sizes are encouraged to apply! Applications must be submitted by September 28th to be considered for the reduced rate. Find the details about the application process here. Please contact us at info@cnquickstart.com with any questions.

Fond du Lac reservation is building FTTH to 1,800 homes by 2020

Minnesota Public Radio reports on the network deployments up on Fond du Lac…

The Fond du Lac band of Lake Superior Chippewa is getting into the internet business.

The band recently submitted a petition with the Federal Communications Commission to form a telecommunications company called Aaniin, which means “hello” in Ojibwe.

The band’s ambitious plan is to provide fiber-to-home high-speed broadband internet service to more than 1,800 homes, and anyone who lives in the network’s roughly 120-square mile service area, by 2020 — both band members and non-members alike.

Service is expected to begin at around $50 a month. People who live below the poverty line — which includes about a third of people living on the reservation — will qualify for subsidized rates.

Broadband may not seem like a big deal to city-dwellers accustomed to high-speed internet service, whether it’s via a fiber optic network, cable, or DSL.

But many people who live on and around the Fond du Lac reservation have never had access to high-speed internet in their homes, said the band’s planning director Jason Hollinday.

PUC public hearing on Frontier – the frustration of a community held hostage by a broadband provider

Last night I attended the Public Utilities Commission meeting taking comments from frustrated Frontier customers. This is one of several meetings the PUC is having across the state. There were about 100 people in attendance. The meeting when from 6:00 until after 9:00. People spoke passionately.

The point that most people made was their frustration at having one choice. Most were in the position where there were no other broadband providers that reached their homes. And it sounds like the service is slow (often less that 1 Mbps) and unreliable. Someone mentioned their connection had cut out 75 times in a 24-hour span. Most were disappointed with customer service and billing issues.

One person mentioned that they opted for satellite instead of Frontier – but they were unhappy with satellite as well. Some used mobile hotspots when they really needed to get online. But others mentioned that hotspots were even an option because they leave/work in a cell dead zone.

People were frustrated because they couldn’t work from home. They could run credit cards in their small businesses. Kids couldn’t do homework. It took 5 hours to watch a movie on Netflix due to buffering. Other were worried because the phone went out when the internet went out – and again many were in cell dead zones. They worried about what they would do in case of emergency. How could they make a call to 911?

Living in the Cities, it’s easy to think that everyone has access. But the videos of this meeting are here as a reminder that not everyone does – and often it’s not their choice.

The PUC is accepting written comments until October 3, 2018.

Woodstock Communications expand coverage in Pipestone County

The Pipestone County Star reports…

Fiber optic cable is going in the ground between Edgerton and a communications tower northeast of Trosky as part of Woodstock Communications’ effort to expand internet service in the county.
The tower near Trosky is one of two existing towers the company plans to lease space on and connect fiber to as part of its effort to bring high-speed internet service to unserved parts of Pipestone County with a hybrid fiber-wireless system. The other tower is north of Pipestone.
Woodstock Communications also plans to build two new communications towers — one in Altona Township and one in Eden Township — that it will use to transmit wireless internet service. The towers are expected to provide broadband service within a six-mile radius.
When complete, the system is expected to serve 135 currently unserved households, 540 unserved businesses and one unserved community anchor institution, the Altona Township Hall. It’s expected to provide internet speeds of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloading and 3 Mbps uploading, meeting the federal government definition of broadband. In some areas, higher speeds of 75 Mbps downloading and 25 Mbps uploading are expected.
The fiber installation — about 15-20 miles in all — and tower construction are part of a $967,000 project for which Woodstock Communications received a $363,851 Border-to-Border Broadband Grant from the state of Minnesota last fall.

Minnesota PUC rules in favor of Charter limits state regulation by calling VoIP an “information service”

Ars Technica reports…

A court ruling that limits state regulation of cable company offerings was praised by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, who says the ruling supports his contention that the FCC can preempt state-level net neutrality rules.

The new court ruling found that Minnesota’s state government cannot regulate VoIP phone services offered by Charter and other cable companies because VoIP is an “information service” under federal law. Pai argues that the case is consistent with the FCC’s attempt to preempt state-level net neutrality rules, in which the commission reclassified broadband as a Title I information service instead of a Title II telecommunications service.

The ruling was issued Friday by the US Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, following a lawsuit filed by Charter Communications against the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC). A three-judge panel ruled against Minnesota in a 2-1 vote—the FCC had filed a brief supporting Charter’s position in the case.

You can find the decision online.

CentraCare Health Awarded $324-K Grant For Rural Telehealth Services In Minnesota

According to KXRA...

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is awarding a 324-thousand-dollar grant to CentraCare Health in Saint Cloud to provide telehealth services in rural areas.

Congressman Tom Emmer says the grant will help make behavioral health care services more available for Minnesotans living in the Sixth District. CentraCare Senior Director Rachel Lesch called it “a great opportunity to deliver innovative mental health services in areas not possible before.” The funding will support telehealth networks to deliver 24-hour emergency department consultation services to rural providers.