Webinar Archive – Leveraging CAF II Dollars to Bring World-Class Broadband to your Community

Thanks to all who participated today:

And the description:

Bill Coleman will talk about all you need to know about CAF II and how it effects your community based on his recent report, Impact of CAF II-funded Networks: Lessons from Two Rural Minnesota Exchanges Left Unserved.

Leveraging CAF II Dollars to Bring World-Class Broadband to your Community
Thursday, July 19, 2018 03:00 PM

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Webinar July 19 – Leveraging CAF II Dollars to Bring World-Class Broadband to your Community

Bill Coleman will talk about all you need to know about CAF II and how it effects your community based on his recent report, Impact of CAF II-funded Networks: Lessons from Two Rural Minnesota Exchanges Left Unserved.

Leveraging CAF II Dollars to Bring World-Class Broadband to your Community
Thursday, July 19, 2018 03:00 PM
Register now!

The CAF II program is designed to spur broadband development in unserved, high-cost rural areas and will infuse $2 billion into broadband projects that make service of at least 10 megabits per second (mbps) download and 1 mbps upload available to more than 3.6 million homes and businesses across America by 2020. To date, four companies (CenturyLink, Consolidated Communications, Frontier Communications, and Windstream Communications) in rural Minnesota have received funding to bring Internet service to 170,355 rural homes and businesses.

Using GIS base maps and a GPS-enabled camera, lead researcher Bill Coleman of Mahtomedi-based Community Technology Advisors, conducted field research to identify CAF II-funded broadband equipment in two rural Minnesota communities, Lindstrom and Braham, MN.

After mapping available speeds to end customers based on their distance from the broadband-fed equipment, Coleman found that, even after CAF II investment, the majority of land within these two exchanges will have access to speeds less that Minnesota’s 2022 state broadband goal of 25/3 mbps. These improvements will fall severely short of Minnesota’s 2026 goal of 100/20 mbps.

So what does that mean for your community? Join the conversation to find out.

FCC seeking to establish a new $100 million “Connected Care Pilot Program”

The FCC announced an interest in telehealth funding…

Today, in an op-ed with Senator Roger Wicker, Commissioner Brendan Carr announced that the FCC will seek to establish a new $100 million “Connected Care Pilot Program” to support telehealth for low-income Americans, especially those living in rural areas and veterans.

Here are some of the specifics…

The FCC will vote on a Notice of Inquiry at its August Open Meeting that seeks comment on:
• Budgeting for $100 million in USF support
• Targeting support to connected care deployments that would benefit low-income patients, including those eligible for Medicaid or veterans receiving cost-free medical care
• Supporting a limited number of projects over a two- or three-year period with controls in place to measure and verify the benefits, costs, and savings associated with connected care deployments

Congrats to Danna Mackenzie appointed new BDAC member

Good news for Minnesota, the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) and Danna Mackenzie, Director of the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development. FCC Chairman Pai recently appointed Danna to serve on the BDAC.

The FCC reports

In addition, the Chairman has appointed Danna Mackenzie, a member of the BDAC’s Removing State and Local Regulatory Barriers working group, to serve on the BDAC as a representative of the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development. Ms. Mackenzie will also serve as one of the Vice Chairs of the Harmonization working group (along with David Young). “I am pleased that Danna will be joining the full BDAC and will serve as one of the Vice Chairs of the Harmonization working group,” said Chairman Pai. “She is taking on this important responsibility at a critical time for the BDAC as the Harmonization working group resolves differences between the State Model Code and Municipal Model Code to ensure that the model codes are harmonized with each other and with the BDAC’s prior recommendations. I know Danna will do a great job.”

He also appointed BDAC member David Young to serve as Vice Chair of the BDAC.

MN Broadband Task Force meeting agenda for July 10

I plan to be there and take notes.

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
July 10, 2018
State Capitol, Room 316
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
St Paul, MN 55155
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

  • 10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.  Introductions, approval of minutes, public comments
  • 10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Nancy Hoffman, Chisago County EDA, Chair of the MN Rural Broadband Caucus
  • 10:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Brad Finstad, State Director, USDA Rural Development
  • 11:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Update from Office of Broadband Development
  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Two Studies: Economic Impact of Broadband and Two Rural CAF II Exchanges
    • Ann Treacy, Treacy Information Services
    • Bill Coleman, Community Technology Advisors
  • 12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.  Lunch
  • 12:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Review Draft of Annual Report
  • 1:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Wrap-up/September Meeting Plans

Minnesota cannot rely on federal funds to expand broadband

The Worthington Globe reports on the report Bill Coleman recently wrote for the Blandin Foundation on networks deployed with federal (CAF 2) Funding…

Minnesota cannot just rely on federal funds to expand broadband high-speed internet service, a Blandin Foundation report shows.

CenturyLink, Consolidated Communications, Frontier Communications and Windstream Communications have received $86 million from a federal program to bring internet service to 170,355 rural homes and businesses. The report says even those who get the higher speed service will be at a slower than speed the state considers to be the minimum.

“Minnesota has set ambitious broadband speed goals that position our communities for future success,” said Bernadine Joselyn, director of public policy and engagement at Blandin.

Joselyn said that public officials need to understand that federal, state and local funds all are needed to build adequate broadband networks. Doing otherwise, she said, “will hold rural communities back from reaching the potential they imagine for themselves.”

How correct are the FCC maps? And why does it matter?

The New Food Economy has an article out on broadband access. It is interesting to see that broadband is an issue in a trade publication that doesn’t relate to telecom or cable. It does because as they say – everyone needs broadband. They are finding that the maps that track access, the maps that determine who gets federal funding are not aligning with other maps…

The United States government recognizes that the need is dire. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the federal agency primarily charged with expanding internet coverage, has committed over $9 billion to getting rural America online. In February, it released a national broadband map, purporting to show which parts of the country had access to fixed, or non-mobile, high-speed internet. The goal of the map is to inform policies and target subsidies as the government extends broadband to over 11.5 million American who still lack access.

A closer look, however, suggests that the map is based on misleading data. A New Food Economy analysis of internet speed tests in some rural counties shows connections well below what FCC is claiming, which means the number of Americans without broadband could actually be much higher than reported.

According to FCC, Iowa is the only Midwestern state with virtually complete access to high-speed internet. Every county is covered by download speeds of 25 megabits per second (Mpbs), which the agency defines as “baseline” broadband. But another set of data tells a different story: Internet users in Iowa experience that speed only 22 percent of the time. That’s according to nearly half a million speed tests run on a diagnostic tool operated by the Open Technology Institute, a research arm of the New America Foundation, a non-partisan think tank. Data from these tests, which were run last year, mostly as Google searches, are publicly available on the institute’s website and were updated at the request of The New Food Economy.

They look at why the maps are different…

Why do speed tests conflict so dramatically with what’s on FCC’s map? Because the broadband map, which the Commission calls a “key source” of information for consumers and policymakers, doesn’t include on-the-ground measurements in the first place. The map is based on data taken from Form 477, a filing that internet providers submit to FCC twice annually. The data are the agency’s main source of information on broadband availability, and the backbone of its funding decisions.

Form 477 data have surprising limitations. Providers are not required to include information in the filing about actual on-the-ground internet speeds, which are confidential and considered a trade secret. Instead, when providers submit data, they include lists of census blocks where they “can or do” offer service to at least one location, along with the maximum speeds they advertise there, whether that’s what residents have or not. Nationwide, around 28 people live in a census block, on average. In Iowa, a rural state, the density is closer to 15.

For these reasons, it’s hard to know how many Americans covered in the federal broadband map actually have the internet their providers say they do.


And there are issues with the level of detail of the maps…

Part of the reason for this discrepancy is that FCC doesn’t collect granular data about deployment. “For a long time, the way that the FCC collected data about broadband was, as we found, if there is one subscriber in a census block, we presumed that it was available throughout the block,” Rosenworcel told a House subcommittee in 2017. “I think we all know that that is not a fair assumption anymore, and we’re leaving too many households behind.

And why it matters…

And faulty data can have real-life consequences. When census blocks are reported to have access to 10 Mbps downloads, which was the broadband standard in 2014, other internet service providers are disqualified from receiving FCC funds to expand service there. In other words, the government decides the area is connected enough not to require additional funds for expansion.