ITC Expands Fiber-Optic Services to the City of Ivanhoe (Lincoln County)

ITC fiber reports...

 ITC is excited to announce a fiber-optic expansion to the City of Ivanhoe, Minnesota. Along with ITC’s investment in the fiber-optic expansion, this project is funded by the City of Ivanhoe and Lincoln County. To ensure area residents have access to world-class telecommunications services, ITC continues to expand its network. This fiber-optic expansion to Ivanhoe, Minnesota, is another example of ITC’s continued commitment to this region.

Tracy Bandemer, ITC’s CEO, adds, “Since we completed the initial expansion into rural Lincoln County in 2019, there have been continued conversations about expanding into the City of Ivanhoe. We are excited this project is moving forward. In analyzing Lincoln County, the city of Ivanhoe was the only area without fiber-optics, so this expansion will bring Lincoln County to 100% fiber.”

Vince Robinson, Executive Director of the Lincoln County Enterprise Development Corp. further explains, ”About seven years ago we set out to become a County that would provide fiber to the premise to all of our residents and businesses. ITC has proven to be a solid partner with the previous joint rural fiber expansion project in the County. Broadband delivered on fiber is the future, and with this partnership of the City of Ivanhoe, the County, and ITC we will ensure that all residents of Lincoln County have equal access to state-of-the-art broadband technology.”

ITC is planning to start the construction this Fall. This new fiber-optic connection will offer residents and businesses a reliable, unlimited, Fiber-Fast Internet connection and local phone service. The plan is to plow fiber-optics to every location. To verify your location’s eligibility, please visit www.itcfiberlinc.com . You will have the option to sign up for service with ITC or grant permission for the fiber-optics to be plowed to your location for future utilization. ITC requests that this step be completed by September 15 to maintain the tentative timeline.

ITC is a local telecommunications company providing services to communities in Northeastern South Dakota and Southwestern Minnesota for over 68 years. Currently, ITC provides service to more than 14,000 customers.

Hospital at Home Programs gaining popularity

Minnesota Monthly reports

Rachel Riedesel, population health manager at Allina Health, was in her final year of the Masters of Healthcare Administration program at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in 2019. For her team capstone project, she partnered with leaders at Allina Health to design a program that would allow patients to receive hospital care in the comfort of their homes.

At the time, funding models and abundant hospital capacity meant there was little urgency to implement the program. All that changed when the pandemic hit. By then, Riedesel was working at Allina Health in the hub of the system’s COVID-19-related activity. “This came forward as an opportunity to increase hospital capacity while we were trying to serve our community and their needs,” Riedesel says. The Hospital at Home plan she had previously worked on was put in motion. “We were able to deploy the program in less than a month because of the plans we’d already prepared.”

Instead of being checked into the hospital, patients who participate in the program are sent home with biometric monitoring equipment. The kit includes a tablet, blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeter, and thermometer—all Bluetooth-enabled. Patients are continuously monitored, and their data is sent to a centralized nursing hub along with personalized parameters. If their biometric markers go outside of a preset zone, nurses are alerted to check on them. If needed, a nurse, physician, or paramedic may also be dispatched to the patient’s home. “We have an escalation process in place to ensure the patient is safe,” Riedesel says.

Allina’s program is now one of the fastest growing Hospital at Home programs in the country. To date, it has served roughly 3,700 patients in the Twin Cities metro and a few regional areas throughout the state. When the program started, 60% to 70% of the Hospital at Home patients were COVID-19-positive. In 2022, it’s closer to 40%. The bulk of the patients are now being treated primarily for other conditions, such as sepsis, chronic heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and post-surgery recovery.

“We continue to see equal- or better-quality outcomes for people who get to recover in their homes, with their loved ones,” Riedesel says. While in-patient hospital care is necessary for some acute conditions, hospitals are not without risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates hospital-acquired infections account for 1.7 million infections and 99,000 deaths each year. “We want to make sure we’re providing the safest care in the safest place, and that can often be the patient’s home,” Riedesel says.

eNews: MN Monthly Recap Sep 2022: Federal funding planning and rejection

Blandin Foundation’s New Strategic Direction
After speaking with leaders across rural Minnesota, the Blandin Foundation is moving forward with excitement to focus on three areas of priority:

  • Rural Placemaking for arts, culture and systems people use to create the unique destinations and social fabric rural folks love about their home places and their identity;
  • Community Wealth Building so communities can build their bases of knowledge, money and more, and keep it close to home; and
  • Small Communities to get those places, especially in our home giving area, grants to fund work that changes systems to work better for everyone.

MN Broadband Task Force Aug 2022
The Task Force got a tour of the Office of Broadband Development interactive mapping tool. They also heard from Scott Marquardt from the Southwest Initiative Foundation. He noted that the top concerns in his area are: housing, childcare and broadband.

LTD Broadband RDOF application rejected
The FCC rejects RDOF applications of LTD Broadband and Starlink. In Minnesota, LTD Broadband had been awarded the opportunity to apply for $311 million to expand broadband in rural MN. However, many potential customers and industry leaders were afraid that that lacked the capacity to be successful. So the rejection is met with mixed responses.
Before the FCC rejection, the Minnesota PUC starting to look at LTD Broadband’s qualifications. Post-rejection, they continue to investigate revoking their ETC designation. The next prehearing call happens September 10.

State News    

Federal News

Vendor News   

Local Broadband News

Bois Forte Band
Broadband update from with Bois Forte Band of Chippewa

Cook
City of Cook is looking at having fiber before winter
Cook might benefit from FCC rejection of LTD RDOF application
Paul Bunyan may have Gig access to Cook MN before the end of the year (St Louis County)

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

Duluth
Duluth New Tribune opinion piece says government involvement is needed to get broadband to some communities
Duluth is looking at Open Access Fiber Options with the help of State funding
Duluth gets $24.9 million through USDOT’s RAISE program in part for broadband
UMD is bringing back telehealth counseling by popular demand
Duluth pursues Border to Border grant for Lincoln Park

Harmony
Harmony Telephone to build FTTH in Harmony (Fillmore County)

Kandiyohi County
Kandiyohi County Commissioners support three Border ro Border grant applications

Le Sueur County
Le Sueur County and Bevcomm are applying for Border to Border funds

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

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

Minneapolis
Lumen (aka CenturyLink) to offer 8-gig broadband in Minneapolis

Morrison County
Morrison County Commissioner support Border to Border grant from Charter Communications

Northeast Minnesota
A fiber cut takes down internet and phone service in Northeast Minnesota (Cook & Lake Counties)
Top tips for the housing crisis in NE Minnesota –include get better broadband

Redwood County
Update on Redwood County’s Blandin supported Lead Fellowship

Rodgers, Dayton & Wayzata
Comcast expands broadband to Rogers, Dayton and Wayzata MN (Hennepin & Wright Counties)
Rogers City Council approves Border to Border grant application (Hennepin County)

Scandia
Scandia moving forward with broadband plans with MidCo and Frontier (Washington County)

Sherburne County
Sherburne County Board approved $600k for 3 broadband grants to Midco
Sherburne County to invest $1.5 million from ARPA in better broadband

Upcoming Events, Opportunities and Resources

Federal Funding Tools


Update from Blandin Foundation

Dear Rural Broadband Champions,

It’s been a significant year for investments in rural broadband access and use. I hope you, and your network of changemakers, are celebrating this moment of triumph and reflecting on all the work you’ve done to bring this abundance of opportunity to rural places.

When C.K. Blandin laid out his vision for Blandin Foundation, he directed its investments to strengthen rural communities without supplanting public responsibility. Our broadband programming built rural Minnesotans’ capacity to imagine their community’s broadband future and create the partnerships necessary to get the access and skills to realize that vision. It’s powerful to look at the map of folks we’ve worked with over the years, and see the impact made by rural people inspired to forge a tech-driven future for their community and its people.

The landscape has shifted since we began this work in 2003. With historic public funding on its way, coupled with recruitment challenges in our Blandin Broadband Communities Program, we now turn to the public responsibility of connecting the last miles.

Blandin Foundation is also shifting to meet today’s moment. After talking to leaders across rural Minnesota, and doing deep research, we’re focusing on three areas of work to move rural places forward:

  • Rural Placemaking for arts, culture and systems people use to create the unique destinations and social fabric rural folks love about their home places and their identity;
  • Community Wealth Building so communities can build their bases of knowledge, money and more, and keep it close to home; and
  • Small Communities to get those places, especially in our home giving area, grants to fund work that changes systems to work better for everyone.

Technology will continue to be a thread woven through many of our program investments. While we do not have any specific work planned in the areas of broadband access or digital equity, we will continue to watch the space and assess our role.

As we set out on a new strategic direction, I’m thankful for the years of partnership and network building that made the broadband program so successful. Please stay in touch as we develop and communicate emerging opportunities from Blandin Foundation. We look forward to learning from you and with you as we step forward together towards strong rural communities.

Tuleah Palmer, Blandin Foundation President & CEO

EVENT Sep 20: MRBC IIJA/BEAD Broadband Funding Webinar

An invitation from the Minnesota Broadband Coalition…

MRBC IIJA/BEAD Broadband Funding Webinar

This event is scheduled for September 20 from 9:00 – 11:00 am and will include guest experts from around the nation as well as opportunity for small group discussion and reporting.   Details on how to join the meeting are below.

The current line-up includes:

  • Adrianne Furniss – Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
  • Peggy Schaffer – former head of the Maine Broadband Office
  • Doug Dawson – CCG Consulting
  • Brian Ford – NTCA.

If you have ideas for guest experts, please let Bill know at bill@communitytechnologyadvisors.com.

Agenda
9:00am Welcome – Jay Trusty, Chair, MN Rural Broadband Coalition
9:05am Quick overview of the IIJA Timeline/Planning Process, Adrianne Furniss, Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
9:15am Expert Panel – Key considerations for community-focused broadband
9:45am Breakout discussions on key topics
10:15am Small group reporting to the large group
10:40am Prospective role of MN Rural BB Coalition in IIJA process/Ensuring effective community voice (facilitated discussion by Bill Coleman)
10:55am Closing – Jay Trusty

Meeting Information:
Topic: IIJA/BEAD Broadband Funding Webinar
Time: Sep 20, 2022, 09:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 882 3489 1525
Passcode: 834949
One tap mobile
+13017158592,,88234891525#,,,,*834949# US (Washington DC)
+13092053325,,88234891525#,,,,*834949# US

Update on MN PUC looking into LTD Broadband – movements forward

Last week, I mentioned that the Minnesota PUC decided to continue to move forward looking at revoking LTD Broadband’s ETC designation. (Background: LTD was awarded an opportunity to apply for$311 million in federal RDOF funding. They needed the ETC designation from the MN PUC to qualify; industry folks asked the MN PUC to rethink their designation because there were concerns about LTD being able to fulfill the contract. Last month, their application for RDOF was rejected.)

Last week, the PUC asked LTD to share their long form RDOF application. They also invited folks to send comments (by Sep 16) in advance of a prehearing conference call planned for Sep 20. So afar a Lawyer from Moss and Barnett sent a– Nondisclosure Agreement – Trade Secret Information for Richard J. Johnson relating to the Protective Order issued September 1, 2022 and enclosed a Certificate of Service. The document highlights the folks who will have access to the long form application.

Not much news but it looks like there is movement forward.

FCC and Paul Bunyan raise awareness of Affordable Connectivity Programs

The latest from Paul Bunyan…

Paul Bunyan Communications and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are promoting Lifeline Awareness Week, September 12-16.

“Access to reliable high speed Internet service is critical.  We promote the Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program a lot throughout the year and Lifeline Awareness Week is another opportunity to spread the word about these programs.  We want to make sure all of our membership and those who live within our service area know about them and the benefit they can provide.  These programs help those struggling to afford Internet services get and stay connected!” said Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General Manager

Lifeline is an FCC program designed to help make communications services more affordable for low-income consumers.  Lifeline provides up to a $9.25 monthly discount on qualifying voice and broadband services for eligible low-income subscribers and up to $34.25 per month for subscribers on qualifying Tribal lands.  To learn more about Lifeline, go to www.fcc.gov/lifeline-consumers or www.lifelinesupport.org/.

A new FCC program, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), is also now available to help families and households struggling to afford internet service.  The Affordable Connectivity Program provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands.  Additional information about the Affordable Connectivity Program Benefit is available at www.fcc.gov/ACP, or by calling 877-384-2575 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET any day of the week.  Households that qualify for Lifeline also qualify for the ACP Benefit.

EVENT Sep 15: Webinar on getting assistance from Affordable Connectivity Program

Sahan Journal posts information on how people in Minnesota can get funding from the Affordable Connectivity Program and they are hosting an online even on Sept 15…

On September 15, 2022, Sahan Journal–with support from Comcast–is hosting a free virtual community discussion that uncovers how the landscape around digital equity and access has changed in the last two years, and how that has impacted schooling and remote work in the state of Minnesota. This discussion is ideal for parents who are in the midst of planning for the new school year, or for adult learners and remote workers who have questions on how to take advantage of local and state programs that not only offer affordable internet access and technology, but ensure that you have the proper skills to use hardware and devices, and access broadband when available. Register here no later than September 8,2022: www.tinyurl.com/digital-equity

Update on LTD Broadband hearings at MN PUC – next meeting scheduled for September 10

In July, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) held a hearing to decide whether or not to look into revoking LTD Broadband’s ETC designation. The designation was important because their ability to receive a large amount ($311 million) was in part dependent on having the designation. They decided to move forward. In August, the FCC rejected LTD’s application for the federal funds based on numerous reasons. So the big question was whether the PUC would continue on with its investigation or not. They did.

 

August 24, the PUC heard from interested parties and have decide to ask for materials from LTD, give folks an opportunity to respond and to meet again (via phone) on September 20…

  1. LTD shall serve and file the long-form application, related correspondence, and attachments by August 26, 2022.
  2. Parties wishing to intervene in this proceeding must file their requests by 4:30 p.m. on September 16, 2022.
  3. A prehearing conference will be held by telephone on September 20, 2022, at 2:30 p.m. to review the status of the case, define the issues and set the dates for hearing. At that time, please call 1-866-705-2554 and when prompted enter passcode 406954.
    Dated: September 1, 202

OPPORTUNITY: position open on the MN Broadband Task Force

From the Minnesota Secretary of State…

The Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State today released notice of vacancies for various state boards, councils and committees that are accepting applications. Minnesotans are encouraged to apply and serve in demonstration of public service. The newest vacancies are listed below, and the full list of 344 vacancies can be found on our website Open Positions.

The positions include a seat on the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband. They meet monthly and it’s a great opportunity to help shape the future of broadband in Minnesota.

ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative unveils new Affordable Connectivity Program Dashboard

Big new tool from the Institute for Local Self Reliance…

Today the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) unveiled its Affordable Connectivity Program Dashboard.

A product of ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative, the interactive dashboard tells a visual story of how many Americans are enrolled in the program, offers predictive models on when the funds will be depleted, and shows how much is being spent at the national, state, and zip-code level.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) was established with the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to help low-income households get in-home high-speed Internet service. The program offers a $30 monthly subsidy for income-eligible households to pay for a broadband subscription. The subsidy is $75/month for Tribal citizens and offers a one-time $100 subsidy for all program participants to buy an Internet-connected digital device.

The ACP Dashboard contains numerous features, including the month and year the fund will be depleted. At the current enrollment rate, the fund will run out in March 2025. The dashboard also includes a list of the 10 major cities with the highest ACP enrollment numbers:

  • Cleveland, OH
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Detroit, MI
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Columbus, OH
  • San Diego, CA
  • New York City
  • San Antonio, TX/Washington D.C.

“Although the ACP is a short-term solution to a long-term challenge, it is a vital program for Americans unable to afford basic home Internet service where it’s available now,” noted Community Broadband Networks Initiative Senior Researcher Ry Marcattilio. “However, only a relatively small percentage of eligible households have enrolled in the program.”

“As efforts to ramp-up enrollment are ongoing, it’s important for those concerned about digital equity to bear in mind that the ACP relies on Congressional appropriation. And when the fund is exhausted, low-income households will see their bills go up significantly without further appropriation,” said Christine Parker, Community Broadband Networks Initiative GIS/Data Visualization Specialist.

The ACP Dashboard, which relies on data from the Universal Service Administrative Company, was designed to make ACP enrollment data more accessible to the public, interested policy makers, and frontline digital equity advocates. It can be especially useful as a tool to quickly identify where there are inequities across different parts of the country and begin exploring what may be driving these disparate outcomes. 

“Some parts of the country are seeing higher enrollment rates than others, suggesting there are things to be learned about the obstacles in signing up participants,” Marcattilio said.

The dashboard is iterative and updated with the latest enrollment numbers every two weeks. ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative has created a standalone website for the dashboard, which can be found here.

About the Institute for Local Self-Reliance:

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has a vision of thriving, equitable communities. We are a national research and advocacy organization that partners with allies across the country to build an American economy driven by local priorities and accountable to people and the planet. ILSR.org 

Here’s where Minnesota stands (today) with:

  • 27.7 % of eligible households enrolled
  • 139,161 total household enrolled
  • $4,279,200.75 Total spending in MN

A fiber cut takes down internet and phone service in Northeast Minnesota (Cook & Lake Counties)

MPR reports on how a fiber cut took down internet and phone services (landline and many mobile services) on the North Shore. Shops couldn’t accept credit cards, tourists couldn’t use credit cards or ATMs, hospitals couldn’t transfer x-rays for review and while police could accept calls few people could make them…

Those headaches began at 11:19 a.m. on Friday morning, when a company installing an underground cable about three miles north of Silver Bay accidentally cut the main fiber optic trunk line that runs from Duluth up the North Shore.

That line is owned by the Northeast Service Cooperative, or NESC, a nonprofit public corporation established by the state legislature that operates a 1,200-mile fiber optic network across northeastern Minnesota.

Jon Loeffen, who oversees that network for NESC, said it’s still unclear who cut the line. What is clear, he said, is that whoever it was broke the law by failing to properly notify existing utilities through Gopher State One Call that they were planning to dig in the area.

“That was a terrible place for us to get hit because it was a main artery to our network,” Loeffen said.

And that fiber optic line doesn’t just provide internet service. It provides fiber connectivity between cell towers and carriers like AT&T and Verizon. So when the line was cut Friday, it also disrupted cell phone service.

The story reminded me of Winter 2010, when a broken steam pipe in Duluth caused the same issues. I assumed the new fiber service took that incident into effect, sounds like they did but there are still issues…

For years there was only a single fiber optic line that linked the North Shore to the Duluth area. Any disruption to that line would often lead to widespread outages.

A few years ago NESC installed a second line to create a more diverse system with redundancy built into it, so that if one line went down, traffic could be diverted to the other line almost instantaneously.

But this incident exposed holes in the system. The cut to the fiber line a few miles north of Silver Bay occurred “in an area that did not have that redundancy built in on that particular segment,” said Loeffen.

It took about six hours to switch most internet and cell phone service over to that redundant line. But it took AT&T nearly 24 hours to restore its service, DeCoux said.

NESC is now putting together a plan to install additional equipment and reconfigure its network links up the North Shore, “so that hopefully in the future, if something like that occurs again, there won’t be an outage for some of those services because they’re going to be on a protected, diverse path,” Loeffen said.

The goal, he said, is to complete that work in less than a month.

Comcast expands broadband to Rogers, Dayton and Wayzata MN (Hennepin & Wright Counties)

Fierce Telecom announces investment in broadband in Kansas as well as a few areas in Minnesota…

Other builds include an expansions to 267 homes in Rogers, Minnesota, and another 245 in Dayton; as well as work to reach 537 homes in Grain Valley, Missouri. It also plans to spend $2.5 million on a network expansion in Wayzata, Minnesota.

EVENT Sep 12: Affordable Connectivity Program Sign Up Day in Inger

An announcement from Paul Bunyan…

Paul Bunyan Communications, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and the Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) are holding a sign-up day for the Affordable Connectivity Program, on Monday, September 12 from 2-7 p.m. at the Inger Community Center.

This new long-term benefit will help to lower the cost of broadband service for eligible households struggling to afford internet service and provides a discount of up to a $30 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for qualifying households on qualifying Tribal lands.

A household is eligible if one member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:

  • Has an income that is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines;
  • Participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, SSI, WIC, or Lifeline;
  • Participates in one of several Tribal specific programs, such as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal Head Start (only households meeting the relevant income qualifying standard) Tribal TANF, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations;
  • Is approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision;
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year; or
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband provider’s existing low-income program.

Eligible households can enroll at the sign-up event, through a participating broadband provider, or by going to ACPBenefit.org to submit an online application or print a mail-in application and contacting their preferred participating broadband provider and selecting a plan.  Additional information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit is available at www.fcc.gov/ACP, or by calling 877-384-2575 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET any day of the week.

About Paul Bunyan Communications

Paul Bunyan Communications has the region’s largest and fastest all fiber optic network with over 6,000 square miles throughout most of Beltrami County and portions of Cass, Hubbard, Itasca, Koochiching, and St. Louis Counties.  The Cooperative provides fiber optic fast Internet speeds up to 10 Gig powered by the GigaZone, television services, digital voice services, Residential and Business IT services, and is also the home of northern Minnesota’s certified Apple Service Center.

About Itasca Economic Development Corporation

The Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) formed in 1981 as a non-profit corporation dedicated to the creation of high-quality jobs in and around Itasca County. Throughout its history, IEDC has established itself as a go-to resource for business retention, growth, and expansion. Their mission is to grow the Itasca County economy through education, research and outreach that creates business opportunities.

MN Broadband Task Force Aug 2022: tour of OBD mapping tool

The Broadband Task Force met this morning. They got updates from the Office of Broadband Development and a tour of their online interactive mapping tool. They also heard from Scott Marquardt from the Southwest Initiative Foundation. He noted that the top concerns in his area are: housing, childcare and broadband.

10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m.  Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from July 13, 2022 Meeting

10:10 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Economic Development and Broadband Deployment in Greater MN
Scott Marquardt, Southwest Initiative Foundation

  • Pre-pandemic: our biggest issues by far: housing childcare and broadband
  • We have the largest number of Business loans ever, which means businesses want to expand. Broadband can foster economic activity.
  • Suggested reading IEDC How Economic Developers are Expanding Broadband Access
  • Site selection is important to our communities and broadband is an important aspect of site selection.
    • 51 percent of site selectors said their businesses are looking to move from cities to suburbs and rural areas – but they need broadband, childcare and housing.
    • 83 percent found remote access was important in site selection
    • Our 10 year plan is not possible without broadband investments
  • We will miss the work of the Blandin Foundation in the Broadband world – hopefully other sources can help meet the need

Q: What kind of businesses are getting loans?
A: Great diversity – from manufacturing to hospitality, barber shops, social enterprises and more.
Q: Any creative community partners?
A: ABE, church community…

10:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Bernadine Joselyn, Outgoing Member of Task Force
Blandin has decided to sunset their broadband work and eliminated the programs. It has been important to be in a position to know what’s happening on the frontlines. Blandin has done a good job setting up tools and infrastructure that help build better broadband. As a Task Force, we’ve seen changes – we know the importance of ongoing investment. Now that the State have funding coming in, the Task Force needs to make sure we maximize public investment for the long term. As a State we need to be ambitious in our aspirations.

11:15 a.m. – 11:20 a.m. Office of Broadband Development
Diane Wells, Deputy Director

  • They have $95M for grants and got requests totally $192M – that may sound low but that’s in part because we have a $5 million cap and will only cover up to 50 percent; challenges are due Sep8
  • BEAD application is in. We hear from NTIA is going to be closer to $650 million. But the guestimate to get broadband to everyone is $5575 per household for 297,000 unserved homes – that means $1.6billion
  • Digital Equity plan – we have about a year to do that. Hannah Buckland has been hired as Digital Equity Lead
  • Capital Project Funding is still out there – it will include the low density pilot project and line extension program
  • Executive Director hiring is in process – we’re hoping September

Q: BEAD sounds like there will be a lot of regulatory reporting – any feedback?
A: No. We’re looking more at working with Treasury first. And we’re probably a year out from anything happening with BEAD.
Q: With the funding – any thought of running more than one program per year
A: Yes, we will roll out second round ASAP
Q: When do you think you’ll hear from NTIA about digital equity?
A: After late September

11:20 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Minnesota Broadband Map
Jennifer Frost, Grant Administrator, Office of Broadband Development
Jenn gave a tour that you can watch in the video
Q: Are we worried about the proposed FCC maps?
A: There is a place on our maps where people can verify an address and report anomalies.

11:45 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. Affordability and Adoption Sub-Group
Met Aug 19. Talked about funding issues. Recognized the importance of hearing from Hannah Buckland. We want to make everyone aware of the broadband they have and how to make the best use. How can we support Hannah? Trying to find a way to fill in the space left by Bernadine. We talked about the Affordability programs and how to get the word out. We’d like to learn more about telehealth. How can providers work with digital equity folks?

11:50 a.m. – 11:55 a.m. Funding, Mapping and Usage Sub-Group
Have not met. But while on the road, I heard a lot of questions about broadband. There’s some concern about FCC mapping and funding criteria.

11:55 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Update
Teddy Bekele, Chair, Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
They’ll be using the same writing process as last year for the annual report.

12:15 p.m. – 12:20 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, September 29 Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

Mapping can help determine broadband needs but mapping also opens door to broadband uses

This is a little beyond broadband today but at the 2022 Senior Executive Summit @ Esri UC, Governor Walz talks about the many uses of mapping, such as precision agriculture and electronic vehicles. (Did you know that Minnesota is fourth state in terms of miles of road – yet 18 in land size?) Broadband is going to be required to make the best use of maps. We need broadband to monitor and report back on crop nutrients; we need broadband to access to the maps to tell us where the nearest EV charging station is…

You can see his 25 minute speech on the ESRI site.