Best of the BBCs (Blandin Broadband Communities) #MNBroadband Conference

I can only be in one room at a time so for many of the breakout sessions, I’m just going to be able to post the info that was shared with me. (I will add links to earlier BoB posts for more info on these programs.)

Hear from Blandin Broadband Community leaders about how their best projects generated community excitement and positive outcomes around access to and use of broadband. Moderated by Bernadine Joselyn, Blandin Foundation

And you can see Marc’s presentation here.

Broadband-based Economic Development: #MNBroadband Conference

I can only be in one room at a time so for many of the breakout sessions, I’m just going to be able to post the info that was shared with me.

Economic development is often cited as a key justification for broadband investment. Learn about strategies that can leverage broadband connectivity. Moderated by Bill Coleman, Community Technology Advisors

  • o Samantha DiMaggio, City of Shakopee
  • o Tom Garrison, City of Eagan
  • o Dave Hengel, Greater Bemidji
  • o Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications

Youth Speak for Themselves at MN Broadband Conference

We heard from students from Fond du Lac Ojibwe School, Lac qui Parle Valley High School, and Two Harbors High School about how young people can be engaged in community broadband initiatives, both adding and receiving value. Moderated by Bernadine Joselyn, Blandin Foundation

Lac qui Parle Valley High School spoke first and joined us via livestream. (See that segment online.) They do regular livestreamed events, including a news program, broadcasting athletic and other school events and public service announcements. (You can learn more about their programs from an earlier BoB post.)

Two Harbors High School spoke about the seniors teaching seniors program where high school seniors work with older folks to get them making more use of technology. It’s been a win-win program where everyone is learning and friendships are forming. (You can learn more about their programs from an earlier BoB post.)

Fond du Lac Ojibwe School spoke about their App Camp, where students learned how to create mobile apps in a 2-week summer program. To get into the program, students wrote essays on what broadband meant to their community. (You can see some of the apps they created in an earlier BoB post.)

We got into talking about kid as digital natives. In the video below Charles Hilliard (from Fond du Lac). I think he nails it when he talks about how kids can use technology – but there’s more to technology than just using it. Kids need to learn how to fix and develop technology too:

Questions:

What training did you do with kids before they worked with seniors?

We had a team member who helped kids learn to work with seniors – awareness training like wearing the wrong glasses and still trying to read the computer. But as far as the digital sills go – not much training was required. The seniors (elders) weren’t looking for high tech topics.

If you’re working with seniors – sessions right after school is best. Elders aren’t looking for after dinner activities.

Here are slides from Lake County:

Developments in Federal Broadband Policy: What Should Minnesota Be Paying Attention To?

We started the day with a look at federal policy. I am going to post my scattered notes in deference to getting information out there – please feel free to send questions to us during the conference at #mnbroadband. You can track the conversation here: http://mnbroadbandtalk.com/

Moderated by Bill Hoffman, Connect Minnesota

Diane Wells, Office of Broadband Development

Connect America Fund started 3 years ago. It transformed the high cost program into CAF – a recognition that broadband has gone from luxury to necessity. 83% of Americans without broadband were in Price Cap territories (big providers). So they tried to find a way to incent those providers to upgrade service. In Phase I they offered a set price per home to provide service. In Phase II they went more granular. The Price Cap Carriers can agree to funding and serve all areas – OR those areas will be put up for a competitive bid.

The FCC has also been working on Rural Experiment Funding. They are starting to think about faster broadband speeds. They will be giving money based on price models. You can learn more here: http://www.fcc.gov/document/rural-broadband-experiments-draw-interest-nearly-200-applicants We’re hoping to have more info on the applications by the end of 2014.

Lindsay Shanahan, Connected Nation

We have Connect American Fund, E-Rate, Rural Experiments and ConnectED. We’re also hearing about mergers, Net Neutrality and FirstNet.

On E-Rate:

On Monday the FCC proposed a permanent $1.5 billion (62%) increase in funding for E-Rate. They will vote on it on Dec 11. Funding could go to a range of things such as wireless networks in the school.

Tom Jensen – USDA Rural Development

USDA is a federal bank that will loan money to providers. We focus on Rate of Return providers (the smaller guys – mostly family-owned or coops). To get a loan they require business plans that look back 5 years and look 5 years forward. Re-classifying broadband would help with the loan process.

Questions from the audience:

Q: Lifeline – does that include a data plan? They are trying to transition to broadband for low income. E-Rate is looking too.

Q: Price Cap is getting first chance to serve BUT we haven’t had good experience with them. It seems like a non-answer. So why give them another chance?

The FCC is going with incumbent and in its acceptance they have to commit to providing service but timeframe and speeds are still in question.

Q: Any chance for forgiving USDA loans?

Not much chance – out default rate is very low. We want to keep your tax money safe. Through ARRA we worked with grants – but those are no more.

We do have Distance Learning Telemedicine grants through USDA.

Q: Sometimes E-Rate is a frustration because it’s unreliable. It’s hard to budget with that unreliability. We have heard this before. Be sure to file a complaint.

Q: Why is funding still in silos and not for a broad community effort? No real answer.

Preconference Session ~ Broadband Networks: Community Considerations

The Border to Border Broadband conference has begun! Folks are enjoying a reception and talking about the pre-conference session. There was something for everyone – starting with a discussion on “what is broadband” and ending diagrams of various iterations of fiber networks, comparison between fixed wireless and DSL and a super quick primer on satellite.

As Bill Coleman pointed out, “Broadband knowledge is a mile wide and a mile deep. Community doesn’t need to know everything; they just need to find some good partners.” And the room was full of good community leaders and good potential partners.

The discussion wasn’t only technical. We observed that broadband in rural areas is always about economics. How do you make broadband affordable? Get value from the connections. One difficulty is that the value isn’t always realized by the provider – often it’s the community that benefits. (For example by providing social services online.) But that’s just another good reason to look for public private partnerships!

A few good resources were mentioned:
Google Fiber City Checklist
FTTH Community Toolkit

Bernadine Joselyn did a great graphical representation of the session:

bjs bb map

And Pat Sims brought us some pretty detailed tech diagrams:

Here’s the official description:
Bill Coleman and guest experts will illustrate the tech and policy choices facing communities. Without getting too bogged down in tech terms and jargon, this presentation will help
community leaders to better understand their current situations, prospective choices and the impact of those decisions on the future economic vitality of the community or region.

And the Speakers:
Tim Johnson, MVTV Wireless
Andy Sackreiter, AT&T Radio Access Network
Pat Sims, FTTH Network Architect

Border to Border Broadband: No Community Left Behind

Is your community tech savvy or tech sorry? 

Join community broadband champions, thought leaders and policy makers from across the state to recharge and celebrate our shared efforts to make border to border broadband come true for Minnesota. Our kids think there is a “webtone” out there – but only if we build it and use it for more connected, better lives.  Come be part of the solution. 

Sponsored by Blandin Foundation and Connect Minnesota, the Border to Border Broadband: No Community Left Behind conference is being held November 18-19 at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd.

Consider attending the optional Preconference Session on Broadband Networks: Community Considerations, facilitated by Bill Coleman of Community Technology Advisors:

Depending on who you ask, “adequate” broadband ranges from 4 Mbps to 1 Gbps.  Now that most community leaders know that, in general, they need broadband, they need to understand the ramifications of alternative network scenarios and decisions and the prospective impact on their community. This session will focus on network infrastructures, capabilities and trends in usage by organizations and users.

Bill Coleman and guest experts will illustrate the tech and policy choices facing communities.  Without getting too bogged down in tech terms and jargon, this presentation will help community leaders to better understand their current situations, prospective choices and the impact of those decisions on the future economic vitality of the community or region.
Visit the conference webpage for more information and registration. Registration is Open!!!