Nominations Open: Benton Digital Equity Champions deadline Dec 19

From the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society…

We’re Now Accepting Nominations for the 2023 Charles Benton Digital Equity Champion Awards

Do you know someone who should be recognized for their work in digital equity? Or someone who has brought a fresh, innovative perspective to the field? NDIA is now accepting applications for the Charles Benton Digital Equity Champion Awards. Named in honor of Charles Benton, founder of the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, the awards recognize leadership and dedication in advancing digital equity: from promoting the ideal of accessible and affordable communications technology for all Americans to crafting programs and policies that make universal broadband a reality.

Nominees are being accepted for two awards: the Digital Equity Champion Award recognizes an outstanding individual who has made a difference in the field of digital equity, while the Emerging Leader Champion Award acknowledges an up-and-coming digital inclusion practitioner. Winners will be announced during our Net Inclusion conference on Feb 28-March 2, 2023.

Nominate yourself or an amazing colleague by Dec. 19!

OPPORTUNITY: MN PUC is looking for members

The Secretary of State reports…

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 792 vacancies / 1312 positions can be found on our website Open Positions.

Applications may be submitted online, and must be submitted within 21 days of the “Publish Date” listed on our Open Positions page, to be assured of full consideration by the appointing authority. Appointing authorities may choose to review applications received by the Secretary of State after the 21 day application period.

One open position is at the Public Utilities Commission

Web Site

Supporting Entity/Enabling Legislation Supported by Public Utilities Commission

MS 216, 216A, 216B, 216E, 216F, 216G, 216H, & 237
Enabled: 08-01-1980

Note: It also looks like there’s a opening in the Broadband Task Force but that has actually been filled.

OPPORTUNITY: Office of Broadband Development looks for Grants Specialist Coordinator

OK this is really notice of an extended deadline – but maybe you have someone coming home for the holidays that needs to know about it. The deadline was Nov 28; it’s now Dec 2. (The website may not be updated to reflect that yet.)

The Office of Broadband Development is looking for a Grants Specialist Coordinator

Working TitleBroadband Program Administrator
 Job Class: Grants Specialist Coordinator
Agency: Department of Employment & Economic Development 

  • Who May Apply: This vacancy is open for bids and for all qualified job seekers simultaneously. Bidders will be considered through 11/12/2022.
  • Date Posted: 11/04/2022
  • Closing Date: 12/02/2022
  • Hiring Agency/Seniority Unit: Department of Employment & Economic Development
  • Division/Unit: Business & Community Development / Broadband Development
  • Work Shift/Work Hours: Day Shift
  • Days of Work: Monday – Friday
  • Travel Required: Yes – 10% local and occasional overnight travel
  • Salary Range: $27.93 – $41.24 / hourly; $58,317 – $86,109 annually
  • Classified Status: Classified
  • Bargaining Unit/Union: 214 – MN Assoc of Professional Empl/MAPE
  • FLSA Status: Exempt – Administrative
  • Telework Eligible: Yes – May be eligible to telework up to five (5) days per week
  • Designated in Connect 700 Program for Applicants with Disabilities: Yes


The work you’ll do is more than just a job. Join the talented, engaged and inclusive workforce dedicated to creating a better Minnesota.

Will BEAD fund unlicensed spectrum? Good question and it will matter in Minnesota!

So many posts about the FCC maps and funding and details because the details will impact how much money communities will receive for broadband in the next few years. The issue this post – unlicensed spectrum versus licensed spectrum. Telecompetitor reports

The BEAD program is designed to cover some of the costs of deploying broadband to unserved rural areas. In establishing rules for the program, NTIA omitted fixed wireless service that relies totally on unlicensed spectrum for last mile connectivity from its definition of reliable service – a decision that impacts the BEAD program in two ways.

It makes FWA deployments using unlicensed spectrum ineligible for funding. And it makes areas that have high-speed broadband eligible for overbuilds if the only high-speed broadband available is FWA that relies on unlicensed spectrum.

But some folks want that changed…

Seven U.S. senators sent a letter to Alan Davidson, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, today urging NTIA to revise its definition of reliable broadband for the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program.

So what’s the difference between licensed and unlicensed spectrums?

Here’s a definition from IotaComm. I was hoping for a less commercial perspective but also high level enough to take in easily.

Most of the radio spectrum is licensed by the FCC to certain users, for example, television and radio broadcasters. Individual companies pay a licensing fee for the exclusive right to transmit on an assigned frequency within a certain geographical area. In exchange, those users can be assured that nothing will interfere with their transmission.

Alternatively, organizations can still use the airwaves to transmit communications without getting permission from the FCC, but they must transmit within those parts of the spectrum that are designated for unlicensed users. The amount of spectrum that is available for public and unlicensed use is very small—only a few bands. Both the size of the area and the lack of exclusivity mean there’s greater potential for interference from other users located nearby. (It’s like the “wild west” of radio communication.)

The Telecompetitor article touches on it a little…

NTIA hasn’t said much about why it defined reliable broadband as it did. But David Zumwalt, CEO of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) told Telecompetitor a few months ago that NTIA’s primary concern was the future availability of unlicensed spectrum.

WISPA is particularly concerned about whether areas that already have unlicensed high-speed FWA will be eligible for overbuilding through the BEAD program, as many WISPA members already have made high-speed FWA deployments that rely on unlicensed spectrum.

Folks in Minnesota may have a special interest in this issue. According to the FCC map, LTD Broadband is serving a large portion Southern Minnesota with unlicensed spectrum, as the map below indicates.

OPPORTUNITY: You could be living in the next Intelligent Community

The Intelligent Community Forum report…

ICF has opened nominations for the 2023 awards program. Click here to access the questionnaire for your chance to join the Smart21 Communities of 2023! Data submitted for awards consideration remains valid for three cycles.
The Intelligent Community Awards Program will name its 25th Intelligent Community of the Year at the 2023 ICF Global Summit in October 2023.
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.

OPPORTUNITY: job opening for Regional Outreach Director for Senator Klobuchar

This is a little off the usual topic for us and Senator Klobuchar already has a broadband expert (Chuck Ackman) who is very good but I always like to see broadband-forward folks find places to flourish and the Senator is looking for a Regional Outreach Director for the Northwest MN region…

Regional Outreach Director


The primary role of a Regional Outreach Director is to serve as a liaison between Senator Klobuchar and constituencies in their regions. Issues areas could include business, commerce, banking, manufacturing, export promotion, travel and tourism, workforce development, agriculture and consumer protection, as well as to build and maintain relationships within those communities. The Regional Outreach Director position will be responsible for proactively reaching out and being in their region on a regular basis and for reporting back as necessary on information gathered and any follow-up action that may be needed, either on the part of staff or the Senator, including possible legislative or policy initiatives.

Additionally, this position will be responsible for staffing the Senator at meetings or other events when she travels to their region, and for preparing by the prescribed due date all necessary briefing materials for the Senator.

Job Functions:

  • Serve as lead contact person in their region for the Senator and any issues constituents raise.
  • Coordinate meetings, briefing materials, and assist Media Advisor on media events related to their region.
  • Informs the Senator and office leadership of all happenings in his or her assigned region by screening district media sources and interacting with constituents
  • Build strong internal working relationships across MN and DC offices
  • Attend key meetings on behalf of the senator
  • Advance and staff the Senator at in-state events as needed.

Skills and Knowledge Required:

  • Excellent interpersonal and relationship building skills
  • Knowledge of all issues and events in the region in which the Member is involved
  • Ability to manage multiple priorities in a fast-paced environment
  • Works well under pressure and handles stress
  • Innovative thinker; idea generator
  • Demonstrable experience working with or managing coalitions
  • Excellent organizational and time management skills
  • Proven ability to work collaboratively and enjoys building relationships with diverse groups and individuals


–          Bachelor’s Degree in political science or related field or related experience.

Working Conditions:

–          Work is mainly performed in a fast-paced office environment.

–          Hours are 8-5, Monday-Friday, some evenings and weekends.

–          Ability to travel as needed for meetings.

Interested and qualified candidates should send a cover letter and resume to

OPPORTUNITY: Job opening Manager of Broadband

Last week I posted about East Central Energy moving into the broadband business; I’m please today to let folks know that opportunity has turned into another for the right person – they are looking for a broadband manager.

East Central Energy is excited to add a knowledgeable Manager of Broadband to our team. Are you a highly motivated leader who thinks strategically and can lead a team effectively? Can you creatively solve problems and bring together viable solutions? Come work with us in this brand-new position!

A day in the life

• Coordinate with VP/CIO to develop and maintain a department vision, strategy, and roadmap.

• Manage and direct operations and activities of ECE’s fiber network including hiring and managing employees; preparing reports; budgeting; reviewing and executing vendor contracts; maintaining public relations; marketing services; and managing assets.

• Ensure the culture set forth by ECE’s executive team is communicated and implemented.

• Keep employees informed of safety as it relates to their positions.

• Interface with broadband and internet service industry to explore new ways to bring value to ECE members.

• Represent the cooperative with regulatory agencies, legislative bodies, and industry associations.

OPPORTUNITY: Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program now open

If you are working to spread the word on Affordable Connectivity Program funding (ACP) in your community, this funding might be for you

The Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program (ACP Outreach Grant Program) is comprised of four complementary grant programs:

  • National Competitive Outreach Program (NCOP)
  • Tribal Competitive Outreach Program (TCOP)
  • Your Home, Your Internet (YHYI) Outreach Grants
  • Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Navigator Pilot Program (NPP) Outreach Grants

The FCC issues this NOFO to describe the requirements under which it will award grants for the NCOP and the TCOP. A separate NOFO will be issued for the ACP Outreach Grant Program – Pilot Programs, YHYI and NPP. The ACP Outreach Grant Program is one tool among a comprehensive set of measures authorized by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021(Infrastructure Act) and implemented by the FCC to help bridge the digital divide. The ACP Outreach Grant Program will help increase awareness of and participation in the ACP among eligible households. The ACP Outreach Grant Program provides new federal funding for the FCC to grant eligible governmental and non-governmental entities with the funding and resources needed to increase awareness of and participation in the ACP among those households most in need of affordable connectivity. See Section IV – Program Description of this NOFO for the full Program Description.

OPPORTUNITY: President/CEO position for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce

A great opportunity in the same town at Blandin Foundation…

Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce – President/CEO

Grand Rapids, MN 55744
From $66,000 a year – Full-time
The President is the leader and chief spokesperson for the organization and reports to the board of directors. The President’s responsibilities should be carried out in accordance with directions provided by the board of directors and within established guidelines so that organizational, fundraising, budgetary, community relations and volunteer objectives are achieved. The President serves as communicator, facilitator, and interactive community planner by developing, implementing and assessing Chamber programs, projects and events. The President provides strategic direction, vision and management for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

OPPORTUNITY: Office of Broadband Development looks for Grants Specialist Coordinator

The Office of Broadband Development is looking for a Grants Specialist Coordinator

Working TitleBroadband Program Administrator
 Job Class: Grants Specialist Coordinator
Agency: Department of Employment & Economic Development 

  • Who May Apply: This vacancy is open for bids and for all qualified job seekers simultaneously. Bidders will be considered through 11/12/2022.
  • Date Posted: 11/04/2022
  • Closing Date: 11/21/2022
  • Hiring Agency/Seniority Unit: Department of Employment & Economic Development
  • Division/Unit: Business & Community Development / Broadband Development
  • Work Shift/Work Hours: Day Shift
  • Days of Work: Monday – Friday
  • Travel Required: Yes – 10% local and occasional overnight travel
  • Salary Range: $27.93 – $41.24 / hourly; $58,317 – $86,109 annually
  • Classified Status: Classified
  • Bargaining Unit/Union: 214 – MN Assoc of Professional Empl/MAPE
  • FLSA Status: Exempt – Administrative
  • Telework Eligible: Yes – May be eligible to telework up to five (5) days per week
  • Designated in Connect 700 Program for Applicants with Disabilities: Yes

Make a difference in the lives of Minnesotans

The work you’ll do is more than just a job. Join the talented, engaged and inclusive workforce dedicated to creating a better Minnesota.

Time to take a survey? Digital Equity Vision + Framework

The Benton Institute for Broadband and Society is looking for your help, or at least your expertise and opinion, to help us all better understand what a Digital Act might look like. If you have a minute, please take their survey. Here’s more info from the survey…

Thank you for participating in this information-gathering process. We know, and want to recognize, that this work builds on so much that has come before. Our sincere hope is to add to the body of work by creating a community-generated vision for what a successful implementation of the Digital Equity Act would mean to community. We want to amplify the existing work and elevate an increasing number of community voices.
If you have any questions about any of this, please email

OPPORTUNITIES: Vacancies in State Boards, Councils and Committees

I thought the following openings might be of interest to folks:

Minnesota Cybersecurity Task Force

  • Vacancies: 6 Seats — County, City, Town, or Tribal Government Member
  • Vacancies: 1 Seat — Critical Infrastructure
  • Vacancies: 1 Seat — Minnesota National Guard
  • Vacancies: 2 Seats — Private Sector IT
  • Vacancies: 1 Seat — Public Education
  • Vacancies: 1 Seat — Public Health
  • Vacancies: 3 Seats — State Planning Member

You can learn more on the Secretary of State website.

OPPORTUNITY: Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Opportunity Fund Fellowship Call

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society has an opportunity for the right folks…

Through the Marjorie & Charles Benton Opportunity Fund, we aim to support a new generation of broadband scholars, practitioners, and advocates. We welcome applications from people working on broadband access, adoption, equity, and use. For instance, you may be working on issues of infrastructure or digital inclusion, but are interested in dedicating some of your time to policy-focused research and writing. Or you may be a doctoral candidate ready to begin fieldwork and collect data on the impact of broadband access on health or education outcomes. We are interested in supporting a range of projects that can better inform our current or emerging broadband policy debates, either through critical research about the future of the internet in our communities or the development of best practices and tools to advance our field’s work. Proposed projects can yield either practice or research-focused publications or multimedia content. Some potential topics include:
● How are grassroots organizations and coalitions working to advance digital equity?
● How can we best measure and map the availability and quality of broadband?
● What state and local policy levers can influence broadband availability and adoption?
● How does improved access to broadband impact local economies and communities?
● What resources and information do state legislators or government agencies need to ensure universal broadband access and adoption? This is by no means an exhaustive list and you should feel free to propose other ideas of critical importance to our field. We especially welcome applications that focus on historically marginalized communities. Fellowships will range from $5,000-$20,000, with a tenure ranging from 6 months to 2 years.

Deadline is October 15.

Minnesota senior may need extra IT support – the libraries are there to help

A recent letter to the editor in Minneapolis Star Tribune outlines the reasons that Minnesota seniors need special attention to close the digital equity gap…

Virtual as the new normal is now our reality. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the importance of digital inclusion and literacy for all. Technology is considered an essential resource, a necessity for civic and cultural participation, lifelong learning and access to critical services, including shopping at Target.

As Pommer noted, there is an age-based digital divide within our state with older adults exhibiting lower access to the internet, fewer digital skills and more limited use of technology. To add to the problem, as 10,000 baby boomers retire daily from now until 2030 across the U.S., new retirees are realizing that there is no longer an IT department available to them. With rapid and continual changes in technology, ongoing adoption and assistive services are essential, regardless of age or where a person lives.

The downside is significant for seniors. The digital divide contributes to increased social isolation, severity of chronic diseases and an overall diminished quality of life. The problem is worse in rural areas than metro areas.

And it offers a solution…

Through policy developed through the University of Minnesota Project Reach Program, Minnesota’s public libraries are emerging as the IT department for retirees.

The Library Services and Technology Act of 1996 (LSTA) established a federal grant program to identify priorities centered on technology infrastructure. Under the leadership of the State Library Services, Minnesota’s library network of 356 public locations has historically provided community-based digital device and training resources.

Every five years, the LSTA requires state library agencies to submit a five-year grant plan identifying state priorities. With the current plan through 2025, Minnesota is prioritizing digital inclusion and digital literacy programs championing Minnesota’s older adults, especially those living in rural areas.

Minnesota has a significant funding opportunity via the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act. Linking the development of a state digital equity plan to existing broadband access initiatives strategically positions the Minnesota State Library Services to lead digital inclusion and digital literacy using its extensive statewide footprint across both metro and rural areas.

Broad deployment of digital inclusion and digital literacy programs will enable Minnesota’s growing older-adult population to fully participate in the virtual new normal. Thank you to Minnesota’s public libraries. They have the geographic reach, knowledge, expertise and savvy to create real change and implement digital inclusion and digital literacy as an essential healthy aging strategy benefiting all of Minnesota citizens.

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 or

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, 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.