No more County-wide 911 outages in Lake County

Lake Superior News reports Cook County’s Interim Administrator, Rena Roger’s 2019 highlights…

2019 saw two long term initiatives/issues finally resolved:

  • The County and the Forest service completed the BWCAW Land Exchange, a reflection of extensive work by our Attorney and Assessor’s Offices, GIS analyst, and others.
  • 911 Service redundancy was finally achieved through a partnership with CenturyLink, The Northeast Service Cooperative, True North Broadband, and the State of Minnesota, assisted by Cook County MIS, the Sheriff’s Office, and Emergency Management. The result: no more County-wide 911 outages!

Waseca’s Theresa Sunde appointed to Minnesota Governor’s Broadband Task Force

Fun to see a community excited about a broadband appointment. Waseca County News reports

Mediacom Senior Manager and Waseca resident Theresa Sunde has been appointed by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan to serve a four-year term on the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband.

The purpose of the Task Force is to advise the executive and legislative branches on policies to help ensure every Minnesotan has access to high-speed broadband.

Sunde is the one member of the 14-person Task Force whose professional career has been in the cable industry. She is a senior manager for Mediacom, a company that offers Gigabit internet speeds to residents and businesses in more than 180 small and mid-sized communities throughout Minnesota.

Sunde has worked in the cable telecommunications industry for 23 years. She is responsible for government relations in Minnesota and three other states where Mediacom offers advanced broadband services.

MN Broadband Task Force Meeting December 10

The first meeting of the new Broadband Task Force is scheduled for December 10…

December 10

10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
James J. Hill Conference Room
332 Minnesota Street, Suite E-200
St. Paul, MN 55101-1351

10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

  • 10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.  Welcome by DEED Commissioner Steve Grove
  • 10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Introductions and Reasons for Being on the Taskforce
    • Teddy Bekele, Chair and Task Force Members
  • 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Overview of MN Government; Basics of the Legislature
    • Darielle Dannen; Govt. Relations Director, DEED
  • Overview of the Office of Broadband Development
    • Diane Wells, Telecommunications Mgr., OBD
  • Overview of Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program
    • Angie Dickison, Broadband Development Mgr., OBD
  • Open Meeting Law and Data Practices Act
    • Diane Wells, Telecommunications Mgr., OBD
  • 12:15 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. Lunch
  • 12:45 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. Overview of Reports from Previous Task Forces
    • Diane Wells, Telecommunications Mgr., OBD
  • 1:15 p.m. – 1:40 p.m. Role and Goals for this Task Force
    • Task Force Members
  • 1:40 p.m. – 1:50 p.m. Future Meetings Discussion
    • Task Force Members
  • 1:50 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.  Other Business

Minnesota has surplus estimated at $1.3 billion

Good news for Minnesota. Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (and I’ve highlighted the portion that may interest broadband advocates)…

Minnesota lawmakers have an estimated state budget surplus of more than $1.3 billion to work with as they tee up new spending or tax cut proposals for the 2020 legislative session.

The expected surplus, while good news for Minnesotans, sparked an immediate debate at the Capitol over fiscal priorities, with Democrats and Republicans offering sharply contrasting responses to the new revenue figures announced Thursday.

Republicans, who control the state Senate, suggested potential tax cuts. Democratic House leaders urged caution and said more revenue is needed to cover $1.2 billion in estimated inflation in 2022 and 2023.

DFL Gov. Tim Walz was more hesitant to give specific ideas for the surplus, but said he was open to legislators’ suggestions. However, he emphasized the need for a “robust” bonding bill, where the state borrows to pay for improvements to transportation, wastewater systems, state and university buildings and other infrastructure. He also underscored the importance of maintaining a strong budget reserve to protect the state’s fiscal stability.

Blandin on Broadband eNews: MN Monthly Recap (Dec 2019)

People need better broadband
Inc Magazine recently reported that entrepreneurs need better broadband. While the Chronilce of High Education reports that students need broadband too.

State Policy Issues

Federal Policy Issues

Vendor News

Local Broadband News

Cloquet Valley
Jan Keough receives Blandin Foundation Courageous Broadband Leader Award

Fillmore County
MiBroadband launches fixed wireless service in Fountain, Peterson, Spring Valley

Southwest MN Broadband Services looks at closed meetings in the future

Southwest MN Broadband Services receives Courageous Leadership Award

USI fiber unveils expansion areas for 2020

New device makes home-based telehealth easier in MD, SD, ND and IA

MN’s CentraCare Health gets $234K to improve telehealth

Tekne Awards recognizes award-winning MN companies

Pipestone County
CenturyLink upgrades broadband services around Pipestone County

Red Wing
Neela Mollgaard focuses on capital, culture and talent at Launch Minnesota

Renville & Sibley Counties
RS Fiber gets an international shout out for publicly supported broadband

Mayo Clinic implements telehealth approach for neonatologists

Swift County, Rock County, and Cannon Falls
Swift County, Rock County, and Cannon Falls talk about their Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC) activities

White Earth Reservation
New FirstNet Cell site will  support public safety in Northwestern Minnesota near White Earth Reservation

Upcoming Events and Opportunities

We are looking to add MN broadband-related events to the Blandin on Broadband blog calendar. If you have an event you’d like to add please send it to

Stirring the Pot – by Bill Coleman

In this season of gratitude, I am grateful to be able to work with the great team at Blandin Foundation and the many community leaders working to improve broadband across greater Minnesota.  The Leadership Awards presented at the fall broadband conference recognized only the tip of the iceberg of rural broadband leaders.  In almost every successful local initiative, there are multiple leaders working together to bring positive change to their community.  Sometimes one person is honored as the leader, but all good leaders know that this is a limited view of reality.

It takes multiple leaders and many followers to build the momentum necessary to overcome fears, objections and interference from both inside and outside the community.  At a recent meeting of current Blandin Broadband Communities, we heard all the good things happening in these communities, with some credit to the momentum created via the BBC program.  Isaac Newton’s theories in action!  These communities are moving in the right direction led by many cooperating leaders.

If you are looking for a fun way to illustrate this concept at your next broadband meeting, check out one of my favorite TED Talks:

If you want to start a movement in your community, get organized, and apply to be a Blandin Broadband Community.  Look for that application soon.  Call us for assistance!

Blandin Foundation is looking for 4 communities to expand local broadband innovation

Good news, Blandin Foundation will very soon be looking for 4 partner communities for the next round of BBC (Blandin Broadband Communities)…

C. K. Blandin Foundation seeks four rural Minnesota communities to participate in the Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC) Program. Selected through an application process, BBCs will define their community technology goals, receive planning and technical assistance and have the opportunity to apply for resources to implement resulting projects.
The definition of “community” is flexible and based on local definition. Application can be submitted by an individual city or a group of cities, a county or tribal government, or a self-defined region or community of interest. Applicants should be a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization or unit of government. Preference will be given to applications that demonstrate established or emerging partnerships between multiple organizations and entities, including economic development, education, housing authorities, and health care.

If you’re reading the blog, you might already be well versed in the world of BBCs. IN short, it’s a great opportunity for your community to gather around a desire for better broadband access or use. Here’s a little more info…

Once selected, Blandin Broadband Community teams will receive planning and facilitation support, and the opportunity to apply for a $75,000 program grant to fund multiple locally developed projects that address identified community technology needs. Most funded projects require a minimum cash and in-kind match of 25% (1:3) of total project cost; projects funding primarily equipment require 1:1 cash match. Communities must meet a minimum standard of active, cross-sector community participation to be invited to apply for funds.
In addition, participating communities with significant shortcomings in existing broadband services will receive priority to apply for up to $25,000 to conduct a Robust Network Feasibility Study; this program requires a 1:1 cash match. This study is an optional component of the overall program.  More information on Feasibility Studies can be found here: 
Significant commitment on the part of the Blandin Broadband Communities will be expected and required throughout the 18-24 month project period. 

The application isn’t yet available – but soon it will be and Blandin wanted to give a heads up. It’s a great time to contact your local partners about potential interest. The deadline will likely be early 2020 -and luck favor the prepared. With any luck, I’ll be posting more info and a link to the application in a week or so. In the meantime, starting those minds to thinking!

Neela Mollgaard focuses on capital, culture and talent at Launch Minnesota

It’s always fun to see a friend in the news – for doing well. Neeela Mollgaard, former head of Red Wing Ignite, was involved in the Blandin Broadband Communities program for Red Wing and was on the MN Broadband Task Force. So she’s pretty well known with the Blandin broadband team. I was delighted to see her move to Launch Minnesota; Neela was recently highlighted in Finance and Commerce

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced in August that Neela Mollgaard, founder of the Red Wing Ignite entrepreneurship group, is the inaugural leader for Launch Minnesota. A public-private partnership created by the Legislature this year, Launch Minnesota offers grants, mentorship resources and other assistance to the end of making Minnesota a top-five state for startups.

They asked questions about her background…

Q: You came here from Red Wing Ignite. What led you to start that program, and what did you do there?

A: I was really fortunate to be part of a small grassroots effort back in 2012. Our city had gigabit broadband, and we had just received a 2012 National Partnership with US Ignite, which is a nonprofit that was funded by the White House and the National Science Foundation. I worked for about a year as a volunteer, trying to bring the vision to reality, and then in 2013, I threw my name in the hat to lead that organization. We created Red Wing Ignite as a model really for rural innovation, and feel proud that it has received national attention.

And her future…

Q: As you’re standing up this new program, what are some of your goals in the first year?

A: Our three goals that I’m focusing on are capital, culture and talent. For capital, I want to increase access to capital through grants and private investors. We’ve just launched our innovation grants to increase capital to startups, and then also working to increase private investors with the angel tax credits and other ways. Regarding our talent, our goal is to provide education to increase the knowledge needed to start and scale startups in Minnesota.

Then the third goal is really trying to foster a collaborative culture to simplify the navigation of resources to save our startups time, which is a valuable resource. We want to make sure that startups know where they can go to plug in when they have an idea, and on that whole roadmap from idea to launch, what organizations and individuals are there to help them along the way.