FCC says $28.5 million for rural broadband in MN

WCCO reports

The Federal Communications Commission announced Monday it will provide $28.5 million in broadband funding to rural households in Minnesota.

The FCC says the money will benefit more than 8,000 homes and businesses in Minnesota that are currently unserved. The funding, which providers will begin receiving in late August, will be distributed over the next 10 years. The announcement comes as the fourth wave of support from last year’s Connect American Fund Phase II auction.

“In Minnesota, this round of funding takes yet another step toward closing the digital divide, providing access to digital opportunity to nearly 8,100 unserved rural homes and businesses,” FCC chairman Ajit Pai said.

The FCC says providers must build out to 40% of the assigned homes and businesses within three years. Buildout must increase by 20% in each year afterward, and should be completed by the end of the 6th year.

Counties receiving the most funding include Yellow Medicine, Polk, Traverse, Mower, Marshall, Freeborn, Blue Earth and Kittson.

Intelligent Community Regional Workshops – notes

Pleased to share notes from the Intelligent Community Regional Workshops. They met to go over how to apply to become an Intelligent Community. Here’s more info on the ICF…

ICF publishes research based on the data provided by communities like yours around the world. The goal is to provide cities, towns and regions of all sizes with evidence-based guidance on achieving economic, social and cultural growth in the challenging digital age.

By completing this questionnaire, you will:

  • Receive a free Snapshot Report offering six insights into your community’s global competitiveness.
  • Be considered for one of ICF’s By the Numbers public rankings of Inteligent Communities.
  • Become eligible – with your permission – to compete in the Intelligent Community Awards.
  • Have the opportunity to purchase an Analytics Report that provides in-depth analysis of strengths and weaknesses as well as recommendations for change.

There is no cost to submit a questionnaire. If you wish to be considered for the 2020 Intelligent Community Awards, the deadline to submit a questionnaire is September 23, 2019. Click here to learn more and submit your questionnaire. Nominees for the Intelligent Community Awards are evaluated based on ICF’s six indicators that make up the ICF Method. Click here to learn more.

You can check out the questions you need to answer. And info from the presentation…

Beltrami County getting more attention for awesome broadband

Late last month, Paul Bunyan posted a press release on Beltrami County having the best broadband in the state. It looks like the Bemidji Pioneer is elaborating…

When it comes to broadband internet access in Minnesota, Beltrami County is No. 1 out of 87.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development released a new broadband availability map this year, showing Beltrami County having the most access to internet speeds up to a gigabit per second. According to DEED, 98.78 percent of Beltrami County now has access to those speeds.

In comparison, just 24.58 percent of the state has access to those internet speeds, and there are nine counties where no gigabit availability exists.

Shane Delaney, DEED communications director, said the region has benefited from having several providers.

“The reason Beltrami has so much broadband is you have Garden Valley Telephone Co. in the northwest corner, and Paul Bunyan Communications throughout the rest of the county,” Delaney said. “Those two companies have largely been building out with fiber and most of the populated areas have a connection with that fiber.”

How does MN rank in prosperity? Pretty well

The Legatum Institute is…

a London-based think-tank with a global vision: to see all people lifted out of poverty. Our mission is to create the pathways from poverty to prosperity, by fostering Open Economies, Inclusive Societies and Empowered People.

They have created a tool that tracks how a state (or country) is doing in a number of categories:

  • Business Environment
  • Market Access & Infrastructure
  • Economic Quality
  • Safety & Security
  • Personal Freedom
  • Governance
  • Social Capital
  • Living Conditions
  • Education
  • Health
  • Natural Environment

Here’s what they say about the US…

United States is 17th in the overall Prosperity Index rankings. Since the Prosperity Index began in 2007, United States has remained at the same position.

PILLAR RANKINGS

In the Prosperity Pillar rankings, United States performs best on Business Environment and Social Capital and scores lowest on the Safety & Security pillar. The biggest positive change, compared to last year, came in Personal Freedom increasing by 5 places, whereas they dropped 4 places on Natural Environment.

Visit our Rankings table to see how United States compares to other countries.

The also have a Minnesota report. Spoiler alert: Minnesota comes in third for overall prosperity! So that’s good. And our score has increased from 62.4 to 64.3 in the last 10 years. It’s a 14-page report and it’s very interesting. I strongly suggest you check it out it’s so broad in topic. Looking at the details with a broad brush, I’d say its Minnesota’s quality healthcare and social capital that buoy our scores. Personal freedom is an area where we could use some improvement. Unfortunately our market access and infrastructure are not boosting us either.

Iranian pleads guilty in Minnesota in tech smuggling case

A strange story, but one worth reporting, I think as a head up. A Boston News outlet reports…

An Iranian woman pleaded guilty in Minnesota on Friday to conspiring to facilitate the illegal export of communications technology from the U.S. to her home country.

Federal prosecutors say Negar Ghodskani, 40, and others established a front company in Malaysia to illegally obtain restricted technology from companies in Minnesota and Massachusetts, in violation of U.S. law and international sanctions. She was indicted in 2015 in Minnesota and arrested in Australia in 2017, where she became the subject of a long extradition fight. She entered her plea before U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen in Minneapolis. A sentencing date was not set.

Here is what she was doing…

According to the indictment and the plea agreement, Ghodskani worked for a Tehran, Iran-based company, Fanavar Moj Khava, also known as Fana Moj, which specializes in broadcast and microwave communications equipment, and supplies microwave radio systems and wireless broadband service in Iran. Its principal customer is the government-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting company.

Prosecutors said Ghodskani, Jalali and others established Green Wave Telecommunication in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as a front for buying restricted equipment and unlawfully reshipping it to Fana Moj in Tehran. The Treasury Department put Fana Moj on a list of banned companies in 2017, accusing it of providing support to the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Event to showcase power of broadband in ag sector

I plan to attend. Looks like a great event…

Minnesota’s agricultural and broadband leaders will come together on September 12 in Winthrop, Minn., to co-host an event demonstrating the role and potential of broadband-powered technology to spur the competitiveness of Minnesota’s Ag sector. The public is invited to participate in the presentation, discussions and demonstrations.

Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Thom Peterson will kick off the event with a keynote followed by sessions on agriculture technology workforce, opportunities for connected farm communities, and case studies of how broadband is impacting agricultural operations.

The event will draw more than 250 agricultural producers and supply chain vendors, local government officials, economic developers, state officials, broadband service providers and local leaders interested in the health of ag-dependent communities.

Feeding Innovation in Greater Minnesota is co-hosted by RS Fiber, Farmward Cooperative, Cooperative Network, GreenSeam, Minnesota Crop Production Retailers, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Southwest Initiative Foundation, Technology & Trades on the Prairie, United Farmers Cooperative and Blandin Foundation.

The event will take place on Thursday, September 12 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Berdan Center (705 4th Street East) in Winthrop, Minn. The cost to attend is $49. To register and see the full agenda, visit http://bit.ly/32OZfj2

Two MN State websites are hacked and defaced

The St Paul Pioneer Press reports…

A hacker or hackers early this week defaced two Minnesota government web pages, defacing them with anti-government images or messages, officials confirmed Wednesday.

State information technology officials will continue to investigate, but as of Wednesday, they said they had no reason to believe any sensitive information was compromised. The effort was more akin to Internet vandalism analogous to graffiti tagging in the real world, as opposed to a true “breach” involving theft, according to officials with MNIT, the state’s IT agency.

The two pages targeted were in the realm of the Department of Human Services. While the pages are technically public, they’re only used by government workers, and there’s no evidence anyone from the public viewed the content, officials said.

One of the pages is used by local workers to report to DHS how much time they administering state programs, while the other is connected to the refugee services. However, officials don’t believe the attack was connected to refugee or immigration issues — or even DHS or Minnesota as a whole.