21 percent of MN can access fiber through a Cooperative

The Institute for Local Self Reliance has updated their 2017 report on how Cooperatives Fiberize Rural America, because…

In the 18 months from when we originally released our report on rural cooperatives, we have seen a tremendous increase in attention on cooperatives as a key approach for dramatically improving rural Internet access. Many cooperatives have become more aggressive in building next-generation networks for their member-owners and their neighbors. This updated report reflects the latest data we could gather on this essential movement.

Here are some of the high level highlights:

    • More than 140 co-ops across the country now offer residential gigabit Internet access to their members, reaching more than 300 communities.
    • Co-ops connect 70.8 percent of North Dakota and 47.7 percent of South Dakota landmass to fiber, and residents enjoy some of the fastest Internet access speeds in the nation.
    • Georgia and Mississippi have overturned state laws banning co-ops from offering Internet access, and other states, including Colorado, Maryland, North Carolina, and Texas, have implemented legislation that will further ease the way.

And  a look at what’s happening in Minnesota.

They mention a few Minnesota coops and the impact of Minnesota state grants…

In addition to federal funding sources, co-ops
are often eligible for state and local grants. The
Minnesota Border-to-Border Broadband Grant
Program has awarded funds to several
cooperatives, and multiple states looked to it as
a model for their own grant programs. Local 22
government funding for connectivity is rarer, but
in Minnesota, numerous counties have
provided loans and grants to electric and
telephone cooperatives for broadband projects,
often to supplement federal or state funding.23
For example, Cook County, Minnesota, offered
Arrowhead Electric Cooperative a $4 million
grant after the co-op was awarded $16 million
in stimulus funding.

How does MN broadband access by urban/rural status compare to other Midwest states?

I’m so glad you asked how Minnesota broadband access by urban/rural status compares to other Midwest states. It gives me a chance to dive into Roberto Gallardo’s recent article on broadband access in the Midwest. Also a quick caveat – broadband is defined here as 25 Mbps down and 3 up. That is the FCC definition of broadband; it’s also the 2022 speed goal for Minnesota. Minnesota has a secondary speed goal of 100/20 by 2026.

At first glance I was a little worried. We’re were number one (granted the data is from 2017) after a few years of attention on speed (statutory goals) and investment (broadband grants) …

Then I saw that Roberto was also looking at access to 25/25…

And symmetrical gig access

Especially looking at gig access, we are absolutely in leadership position. Undoubtedly the “Minnesota Model”  – speed goals, broadband grants, Office of Broadband Development located in Department of Employment and Economic Development and an active broadband community has played a part.

So I’m not so worried about not coming in first for the 25/3 access; in fact not coming in first helps us recognize the need to try harder and with broadband that means – ubiquitous coverage at high speeds.

37% of Americans now go online mostly using a smartphone

Pew Research reports…

Today, 37% of U.S. adults say they mostly use a smartphone when accessing the internet. This share has nearly doubled since 2013, when the Center last asked this question. At that point, 19% of Americans named their smartphone as their primary device for going online.

Indeed, mobile devices are not simply being used more often to go online – some Americans are forgoing traditional broadband at home altogether in favor of their smartphone. A majority of adults say they subscribe to home broadband, but about one-in-four (27%) do not. And growing shares of these non-adopters cite their mobile phone as a reason for not subscribing to these services.

I could see people do more individual tasks online but (aside from watching videos or listening to audio) I can’t see people choose a smartphone for tasks that take longer – like research or writing. That being said, few people probably spend as much time writing or doing research as I do. I wasn’t surprised to see that people with higher education and salaries seem to choose smartphones and home broadband at about the same rate. So people who can choose, choose both. (Or maybe having home access helps them make more money.)

How is broadband like a dishwasher?

Broadband and dishwasher are neck in neck in renters short list of needs.

Broadband Now recently did a survey of apartment renters and what they thought of broadband. Turns out 39 percent report that broadband is essential. Here are some of the other things they found:

  • Renters were fiber were happiest with their broadband
  • Most renters had wireless
  • Renters wanted dishwashers and laundry more than broadband, but it was close
  • People will pay more for fiber.For customers without a fiber connection today, 17 percent said $50 or more per month to rent a place with fiber. For customers with a fiber connection today, 35 percent said $50 or more per month.

A Case for Rural Broadband: $47–$65 billion annually in additional gross benefit

The Benton Foundation does a nice summary of a recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (A Case for Rural Broadband: Insights on Rural Broadband Infrastructure and Next Generation Precision Agriculture Technologies).

The give a high level Return on Investment…

This latest chapter in the Trump Administration’s American Broadband Initiative finds that the deployment of broadband networks and adoption of new agricultural technologies could result in approximately $47–$65 billion annually in additional gross benefit for the U.S. economy.

They also noted…

If broadband infrastructure and digital technologies at scale were available at a level that meets estimated producer demand, the U.S. economy could realize benefits equivalent to nearly 18 percent of total agriculture production. Of that 18 percent, more than one-third is dependent on broadband, equivalent to at least $18 billion in annual economic benefits that only high-speed, reliable Internet can provide.

They talk about farms without…

The report details how unreliable broadband service undermines scaling adoption of precision agriculture:

  • Some farmers dedicate significant time and effort to find workarounds to insufficient Internet service, which takes time away from managing their businesses and serving their customers.
  • Some precision agriculture technologies function with basic Internet connections, so even slow speeds are better than no connections at all. But many require a more reliable and high-speed Internet connection as a minimum requirement.
  • Without access to online learning and peer sharing platforms, farmers are less likely to succeed with technology implementation, having wasted money, time, and effort without realizing complete benefits.

And note next steps for the USDA…

This “coordinated action” must focus on six key priorities:

  1. Tailor deployment of Internet infrastructure to communities.
  2. Incentivize development of innovative technologies and solutions, both for scaling connectivity and improving agricultural production.
  3. Create the conditions that allow, encourage, and reward innovation, including identifying the statutory or regulatory obstacles that hinder new, innovative providers.
  4. Coordinate across public programs to effectively use taxpayer funds and develop new partnerships.
  5. Build capability to scale adoption and realize value.
  6. Clarify and emphasize the importance of rural connectivity to all consumers of agriculture commodities.

10 Jobs that are Going Away

Governing recently post their list of the 10 jobs that are disappearing most quickly. Here’s the list:

  1. Telemarketers
  2. File Clerks
  3. Postal Service Mail Sorters, Processors and Machine Operators
  4. Bill and Account Collectors
  5. Data Entry Keyers
  6. Order Clerks
  7. Chief Executives
  8. Production Worker Helpers
  9. Installation, Maintenance and Repair Worker Helpers
  10. Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers

It’s an interesting list. There are some that appear to be victims of automation – the production workers, order clerks and repair workers. There are some that are victims of the Internet – telemarketers anything related to the postal service. There is one that surprised me – telecom line installers. Governing points to cord-cutting as a factor.

I mention this because I think it’s valuable to think about the role broadband, not only as the cause of some job changes, but as the solution. If I were talking to kids about jobs (and I have teenagers, so I do), I would encourage them consider the new skills they need and new jobs that will be born of new opportunity.

Minnesota in top 15 states list for remote jobs

FLexJobs reports

California, Texas, and New York were the top three states with the highest number of remote job postings last year, with others such as North Carolina, Minnesota, and Massachusetts also included on this diverse list of states. Half-time remote workers gain back 11 days a year—time they would have otherwise spent commuting (the average daily commute is 26.1 minutes). In more than half of the top U.S. metro areas telecommuting exceeds public transportation as the commute option of choice. It has grown far faster than any other commute mode.

Here are the top job listing in MN:

  • Data Entry
  • Accounting & Finance
  • Engineering

They also list remote-friendly companies:

  1. Edmentum
  2. Walden University
  3. UnitedHealth Group
  4. Carlson Wagonlit Travel
  5. Rasmussen College
  6. Wolters Kluwer
  7. U.S. Bank
  8. Deluxe
  9. Mayon Clinic
  10. 3M