OPPORTUNITY: Center for Rural Policy and Development looking for border members

Not necessarily tied to rural broadband, but definitely would nice to have more broadband heads around the table when they are discussing rural policy; the MN Secretary of State just posted open positions. I’ve included them all, just in case there’s interest:

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 1,078 vacancies / 639 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.

See our new instructions on HOW TO APPLY at the end of the message.

Below is a list of agencies with vacancies posted in the previous 15 days.

Please visit our website for complete descriptions and all other vacancy listings previously posted.

Behavioral Health Planning Council

Vacancies: 1 Seat — Providers of Substance use disorder services to the LGBTQ and/or underserved communities

Board Of Behavioral Health And Therapy

Vacancies: 1 Seat — Licensed Professional Counselor/Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

Board Of Trustees Of The Minnesota State Colleges And Universities System

Vacancies: 1 Seat — Student

Center For Rural Policy And Development

Vacancies: 1 Seat –Regional County Government Rep.

Vacancies: 1 Seat — Business Rep

Vacancies: 1 Seat — Rural County Government Rep.

Minnesota Sex Offender Program – Hospital Review Board

Vacancies: 1 Seat — Attorney

Vacancies: 1 Seat — Psychologist/Mental Health Professional

Vacancies: 1 Seat — Public

Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board

Vacancies: 1 Seat — Teacher

Special Review Board

Vacancies: 1 Seat — Special Review Board Member


Visit the Open Positions page.
Scroll down to find the correct Agency/Board/Council.
Choose the correct seat type, and click button that says APPLY
The system will walk you through creating an application profile.

Page 2 of the application will now allow you to attach the following documents:
• Letter of Interest
• Resume or Biography

A Minnesota Take on the Federal Farm Bill

Axios parsed out Minnesota reaction to several aspects of the Farm Bill, starting with MN policymakers’ role…

Minnesota lawmakers are set to play a big role in shaping the final bill. Klobuchar and Tina Smith are members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, while U.S. Reps. Angie Craig and Brad Finstad are on the House panel.

They note precision ag…

A bipartisan proposal cosponsored by Klobuchar would provide low-interest loans to farmers who want to buy precision agriculture equipment.

“That’s going to allow them to use less water and target their pesticides instead of spreading it over areas that don’t need it,” she said. “Imagine what a game changer that will be.”

And broadband…

Broadband: An estimated 144,000 Minnesota households still don’t have access to high-speed internet. That’s a problem, especially for a growing number of families where one person farms and the other works remote from a rural area, Klobuchar said.

Electronic Health Records used less in rural hospitals – what do MN hospitals look like?

A recent GAO report indicates

Electronic health information exchange is the ability to exchange medical records and other health information electronically among health care providers and between health care providers and patients. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act provided federal enhanced Medicaid matching funds to states through 2021 to support certain efforts to advance electronic exchange. Nearly all states used these funds, and most have identified other sources to sustain those efforts. Survey data show that the use of various electronic exchange methods among hospitals and physicians has increased in recent years. However, GAO found that as of 2021, reported use among small and rural hospitals was lower than that of other hospitals.

The GAO surveyed seven states to see what happened to that funding and how hospitals were using Electronic Health Records (HER). Minnesota was one of those states. The table below shows how Minnesota hospitals are exchanging information. It is eye opening to see that 40 percent of MN hospitals often use mail or faxes and 73 percent receive them! It’s worth noting that both MN and Colorado have a higher percentage of use of EHR vendor network; that’s because in both states most hospitals used the same vendor.

One concerning factor across the board (for most readers here)…

Stakeholders we interviewed, including representatives from state agencies and HIE organizations, also noted that broadband access and availability in rural communities had improved in recent years, primarily due to federal and state efforts aimed at expanding broadband. However, they noted that despite these efforts, lack of broadband access, particularly in very rural areas of the country, continues to be an impediment to electronic exchange.

I’m not patient waiting for a kid’s strep throat results; I can only imaging the USPS playing a role in other diagnosis and I’d hate to think that lack of broadband was a cause!

Imagine moving to an area with slow internet – would you work like Barbara Drӧher Kline to fix it?

This week, the Benton Institute tells the story of one of Minnesota’s most tenacious broadband champions…

Barbara Drӧher Kline thought she knew what she was getting into when she moved halfway across the country and bought a 1890s farmhouse in rural Le Sueur county, Minnesota. Contractors advised her to tear the house down, but she loved a fixer-upper, especially after she had refined her remodeling skills on her previous home in California, a redwood log cabin near San Francisco.
Drӧher Kline wasn’t scared by a rural lifestyle either. Both she and her husband, John Kline, had roots in the state, and he had grown up nearby.
The plot twist was something even HGTV had not prepared her for: slow internet.
The internet service provider for her new home, Frontier Communications, offered outdated technology with frequent outages and notoriously poor customer service.

Barbara has been very active as a Blandin Broadband Communities champion, a speaker at various Blandin and other local events and she was on the last iteration of the Minnesota Broadband Task Force. We are glad she is here. Her lack of good broadband has helped her help her new community but it is frustrating to imagine moving into a new place, albeit a fixer-upper and funding inadequate broadband…

“We just assumed there would be something…we lived in a canyon in northern California, and we had a bunch of different options there,” she said.

Realtors are legally required to disclose lots of information to prospective buyers, like whether the house runs on a septic tank or certain potential hazards like flooding or earthquakes. Internet, however, is less regulated than other fields.

It turns out realtors are the MLS housing database only reveal whether a house can get connected, not if the connection is any good. Realtors and home buyers are interested in changing that…

Among surveyed realty associations in Minnesota and California, realtors agree that the MLS should provide more ways to disclose information about a home’s internet connection but are hesitant to call for another mandatory field.

Across the board, realtors emphasize the shared duty of homebuyers and realtors to avoid assumptions and ask informed questions throughout the process.

After trying various options and getting engaged, Barb found a solution for help herself…

She struck a deal with Bevcomm: she would pay $2,700 of the cost to extend service to her home and the company picked up the rest, an estimated $3,000 – 4,000.

“We were that close, so we could afford to do it, and now it would be double that. Most people can’t afford to do that,” she said.

But she’s used her experience to help others in the community…

When she ran for a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2018, poor internet was one of the bread-and-butter issues that motivated her, and something her neighbors echoed.

While she lost the election, a tide started to turn, at least in her county. Individual requests like that of Drӧher Kline became fodder for a larger public-private partnership between Bevcomm, Le Sueur county, and the state. As part of that deal, and many other similar projects, Bevcomm contributes roughly 25 percent, the state gives 50 percent of the funding, and the county covers the rest, said Bill Eckles, the CEO of Bevcomm.

Barb continues to work on it…

With the advent of a state broadband grant program and the recent influx of COVID-19 relief dollars, Eckles said Bevcomm has seen fewer calls from neighbors like Drӧher Kline, and more counties that come forward with proposals of their own.

But Drӧher Kline is still worried about the math. Now she sits on the Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Broadband, where she’s working to change the funding formula to lower the burden on taxpayers and encourage more companies like Bevcomm to serve rural counties like hers.

One thing Barb wanted me to help clarify, she is not opposed to state and federal tax investment in broadband – it’s the burden of property taxes.

Growing old rural has become new metro and that difference matters

While a rose by any other name will still smell sweet, a community once called rural,  as Daily Yonder points out,  paints a bleak picture of what we’re calling rural areas…

Later this year, some of the nation’s most economically successful “rural” counties will be reclassified as metropolitan, moving their populations and economic output from nonmetropolitan to metropolitan with the stroke of a pen.

That’s because 2023 is the year the federal Office of Management and Budget will create a major revision for its list of Metropolitan Statistical Areas based on data from the 2020 Census.

Because of how Metropolitan Statistical Areas are defined – using a combination of population figures and commuting patterns – the reclassification is likely to move some of the fastest growing and economically productive rural counties into the metropolitan category.

This gives a falsely bleak impression of rural America, according to scholars Daniel T. Lichter and Kenneth M. Johnson. The researchers from Cornell and the University of New Hampshire respectively, call this phenomenon “the paradox of rural population decline.”

Telehealth not as prevalent in rural MN – due to broadband issues

The Post Bulletin reports

Between 2019 and 2022, MDH found that telehealth use among most categories of health care providers grew. Among Minnesota’s physicians, for example, 64% report using telehealth at least some of the time in 2022, compared to 32% in 2019. Mental health providers saw the biggest jump in telehealth use, with 80% of those providers using telehealth some of the time versus 21% in 2019.

But that uptick isn’t evenly distributed between rural and urban patients. Per MDH’s 2021 Minnesota Health Access Survey, rural Minnesotans were less likely to use video or telephone visits than urban residents.

“It’s really hard to characterize the penetration of telehealth, but by almost every measure … people in urban areas used more telehealth during the pandemic and continue to this day to use more telehealth than folks who live in rural areas,” said Jonathan Neufeld, director of the Great Plains Telehealth Resource and Assistance Center, based at the University of Minnesota.


The answer, according to Neufeld, is nuanced. A mix of post-pandemic preferences, internet access and provider availability all come into play when a patient decides whether or not to see their doctor from their living room — or if that option is available at all.

Broadband is a big issue…

MDH’s Minnesota Health Access Survey found that almost 20% of rural Minnesotans don’t have access to internet reliable enough for a video visit. This lack of internet access is an acute issue for rural medical providers. At Gundersen St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Wabasha, clinical social worker Mindy Wise sees it firsthand.

“It’d be great if everybody had internet access at fair and reasonable costs, especially for the senior group,” Wise said. “The budget can be a difficult thing for some people.”

Providers ran into similar problems at Zumbro Valley Health Center. Heather Geerts, ZVHC director of clinical services, said even if patients have a cell phone, limited data can make a telehealth visit less desirable.

NPR introduces the Rural Partners Network

NPR recent ran a story that describes what many readers are experiencing – the excitement of so much money coming becoming available for broadband and other infrastructure projects but nervousness of not knowing how your community is going to apply. So many of the communities that are a good match for funding lack the resources to even look into it.

Rural Partners Network has been set up to help folks. They help with information and are available for help in some communities. Unfortunately, they don’t appear to be available in Minnesota – but I see Wisconsin is on their list.

Learn more from the NPR story – quick to read or listen to it.

US Farm Bill may mean more broadband funding in the future

Fierce Telecom reports…

Congress already allocated $65 billion for broadband in 2021 via the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), but as negotiations over the 2023 Farm Bill get underway some are angling for even more cash to boost rural broadband.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the Farm Bill is a sprawling piece of legislation covering agricultural and food programs that is revisited every five years or so. The last Farm Bill was passed in late 2018, meaning it is up for renewal in the back half of 2023.

Though you might not immediately associate internet infrastructure with agriculture, rural broadband programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been a part of the Farm Bill since 2002. The ReConnect Program is probably the best-known of these, but the USDA also oversees the Telecommunications Infrastructure Program, Rural Broadband Program (RBP), Community Connect Grant Program (CCGP), and Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program (DLTP).

Annual appropriations for the last three – $350 million for the RBP, $50 million for the CCGP and $75 million to $82 million for the DLTP – were included in the 2018 bill and are set to expire on September 30 of this year. The ReConnect Program has received funding sporadically through separate legislation, including $2 billion from the IIJA in 2021. But the Congressional Research Service noted Congress could consider a longer-term funding mechanism for ReConnect in its 2023 Farm Bill.

Why is computer ownership less in rural areas? How can it improve?

Digitunity is a national organization working to close technology gaps. They recently published a report (Rural Communities & Digital Device Ownership: Barriers & Opportunities) on device ownership in rural areas. They looked at three important factors that speak to the need and hampered solution to low computer ownership:

  • Current ownership and rural demographics that do not match up with computer ownership
  • Fewer options for getting refurbished computers or discount devices (even due to ACP)
  • Fewer organizations offering help connect users to computers

The challenge for households?

If universal computer ownership is the goal, this “status quo” means rural communities face an uphill battle. There are a larger percentage of households to reach and a larger number of miles to cover to reach them.

The challenge for business support?

Rural locations typically have fewer options for supplying devices than more urban areas. Local businesses are often an important source of previously used computers. They feature heavily in donation efforts for many device drives (Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, 2021).

The challenge for nonprofit/community support?

Technology-focused nonprofit spending is especially low in rural locations, with $40 spent by an urban nonprofit for each $1 spent by a rural nonprofit (Neuhoff & Dunckelman, 2011). Other studies found that organizational capacity is lacking in rural nonprofits (Walters, 2020). Part of this may be due to significantly more square miles being covered per organization (Neuhoff & Dunckelman, 2011).


  1. Build on What You Have

Rural areas tend to have a higher percentage of lower-income and elderly individuals, and less robust nonprofits and libraries to engage with them. However, other support

networks also exist in rural America, such as religious organizations, book or quilting clubs, or farm cooperatives that often work with these exact demographics.

  1. Develop Rural-Urban Linkages

Distance to urban areas with device refurbishers or computer repair businesses is

another rural disadvantage. However, once a relationship is established, opportunities

exist for mutual benefit (Mayer et al., 2016).

Rural Communities perspective on national broadband imperative

The Rural Communities and the National Broadband Imperative 2022 is a post-pandemic primer on rural broadband. Much of it will not be new to readers. But it is a nice look at all aspects of rural broadband (including citations) on every aspect of broadband in rural areas – from how it’s used and needed to how and why there are issues. It’s a useful tool if you are talking to folks who have not been entrenched in broadband for years.

Useful to everyone is the final recommendations:

Create a rural broadband information clearinghouse: Create an easy to locate, accessible resource clearinghouse that centralizes solutions, data, and information for rural communities to leverage and develop broadband solutions for their own community. In a recent report, GAO59 noted: Federal broadband efforts are fragmented and overlapping, with more than 100 programs administered by 15 agencies. Many programs have broadband as their main purpose, and several overlap because they can be used for the purpose of broadband deployment. This overlapping can lead to the risk of unintended duplication of federal funding support and confusion. An effective clearinghouse will reduce the administrative burdens of rural communities seeking to build out their broadband networks. A Clearinghouse will also assist in ensuring that communities understand funding availability,

Reduce regulatory impediments: Eliminate and reduce unnecessary rules and regulations around broadband deployment. Broadband policies should improve the availability of affordable broadband services in rural areas, including the underserved and unserved areas in rural America. In addition to reducing Federal regulatory issues, local communities and public policy individuals need to reduce state and local impediments. To do this effectively, unnecessary red tape should be eliminated.

Identify and leverage local rural technology champions: Consultation and inclusion of rural community members is paramount to the success of the roll out of rural broadband. It is imperative that all levels of policy conversations around broadband include the input of people living and working in those rural communities. Obtaining buy-in from local communities assists with adoption and affordability.

Leverage technology as an enabler and not an end: Broadband solutions will need to be tailored to specific community needs. Policies should remain technology-neutral to allow for current and future deployment. Funding should be available for technologies that provide acceptable broadband service and is readily available to meet the future needs of rural communities. However, it is essential to include that funding applicants and/or partners must have a proven track record, including the financial and technical capacity to build, manage, and operate a sustainable network.

Mapping for rural communities: Mapping on a house-by-house, location-by[1]location basis is important to understand where broadband internet service is available and to show where broadband issues and connectivity are lacking. There are examples of states and other agencies taking on the responsibility of determining the availability of coverage in their areas. These local or statewide programs assist with ascertaining a valid coverage map/ plan. The BEAD (Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment)Program60 will announce available funding following the FCC’s public release of its Broadband DATA Maps 61, and give applicants 180 days to apply to the fund. The FCC has announced that its Broadband DATA Maps will be released in November 2022. The identification of underserved and unserved areas will assist in closing the digital divide and deployment.

Affordable access: Providers should be encouraged to offer programs for adoption addressing broadband affordability for the consumers. Providers should be made aware of and encouraged to participate in the existing and future federal broadband affordability programs. If possible, states should have consistent eligibility criteria with federal affordability programs, enabling providers to quickly address affordability and make all available options known to rural and remote communities.

Leverage local anchor institutions and other partners: Anchor institutions like schools, libraries, hospitals, medical or healthcare providers, community colleges and other institutions of higher education can be leveraged for greater adoption. Programs providing broadband to anchor institutions should be taken into consideration. Anchor institutions often have high-capacity fiber connections that can provide a jumping-off point to facilitate broadband connectivity to the surrounding residential and business community.62 Rural broadband policies must include creative and non-traditional partnerships. Support for broadband deployment and adoption will need to include local partnerships that help drive programs to deploy broadband cost-effectively.

Increase digital literacy: Increasing availability doesn’t guarantee adoption. Consider having local rural organizations drive adoption by developing programs specifically geared toward specific demographics (i.e., aging, immigrants, etc.). For successful adoption by rural community members, the daunting world of cell phones and the internet must be shown to be helpful in everyday life. Early literacy programs assist with this as more and more educational, healthcare, and business opportunities are only available online. Funding should be available for literacy training, ensuring consumers have the equipment and information they need to get online.

Middle Mile: The term “middle-mile infrastructure” means any broadband infrastructure that does not connect directly to an end-user location, including an anchor institution; (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act ).63 Approving the funding for middle-mile infrastructure reduces the cost of rural community members while simultaneously ensuring that the anchor institutions which are essential to rural life have broadband. Federal and state regulations can greatly impact connecting the middle-mile with the last-mile assists in providing affordable broadband services to unserved areas.

Workforce development: Rural broadband offers significant opportunities to live and work in rural communities, creating and maintaining jobs that sometimes pay higher than local wages. Additionally, rural broadband will require a trained workforce to deploy broadband in each state, creating job opportunities in rural and remote communities. Policy should include workforce development training to successfully and correctly deploy broadband.

Change matching grant requirements for rural communities: Many funding programs often require matching funds that rural communities simply do not have. To deploy grant funding, change requirements for matching funds to accommodate the funding challenges that rural communities will face.

State framework: Policies should provide a framework for states to determine the application process in a fair and straightforward manner. There should not be a blanket prioritization and strategies for states, each state is unique, and the counties within each state may vary considerably in broadband availability, population, geography, or demographics. This is especially true for very rural counties, which may not have any or very limited broadband. As more and more states establish a broadband office, it is essential for local, state, and federal programs and resources to understand the challenges and opportunities that successful broadband deployment can bring to rural America. The BEAD Program64 provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

North Dakota gets grant for telehealth counseling for farmers

The Post Bulletin reports

A federal grant undergirds “Farm to Farm Services” — a counseling partnership with North Dakota State University that delivers “telehealth” aimed at farmers and ranchers struggling with mental or emotional health issues.

Sean Brotherson, an NDSU Extension family life specialist, said the program is offering a range of needed help.

“We all know that — for example — suicide rates and rates of stress-related physical and mental health concerns for folks working in agriculture are much higher than any of us would like to see,” he said. North Dakota’s suicide rate increased 57% over the past 20 years, and farmers are part of that.

The program’s telehealth sessions are used by about 40 to 50 clients a month through Farm to Farm, a branded program of Together Counseling, a group of therapists. Clients can be a range of individuals, from youths to adults.

I know it’s North Dakota but the statistics (suicide rate increased 57% over the past 20 years) are staggering and I can’t imagine things are that different for farmers in Minnesota. The article includes a video that makes the program seem very appealing to potential patients.

Should we change the definition of rural?

Fierce Telecom reports…

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small warned changing the definition of what counts as “rural” broadband could negatively impact programs like the agency’s ReConnect initiative, resulting in a greater disparity between available funding and requests than already exists today.

The comments from Torres Small came during a Congressional hearing on Thursday in response to a call from Congressman Jimmy Panetta for the federal government to adopt a single definition of the word. He noted the federal government currently has more than a dozen different definitions for what counts as rural, and pressed for unification around a single, more inclusive standard.

“The complexity of those definitions can lead to wasted time for our local leaders who are seeking…funds for these types of programs,” Panetta said, noting eligibility for ReConnect and other funding sources is based on whether or not an area is considered rural.

One issue is that rural, suburban and urban are all subjective and comparative. And populations change. The hope often is that broadband will encourage population and commercial growth for an area.

Digital Divide Index show readiness for impacts of COVID quarantines: Most MN counties ready but not all

Back in 2017, Roberto Gallardo was one of the keynote speaker at a Minnesota Broadband conference. He found a way to formulate a Digital Divide Index for each county in Minnesota based on a range of data point especially organized in two categories broadband adoption/infrastructure and socioeconomic factors. He’s done it again looking at county-level data across the United States. The map below will give you an idea of how Minnesota compares. (The brighter the color, the brighter the digital equity outlook.)

We can also see a marked urban/rural divide as he points out…

These groups were then utilized to analyze a host of other variables to better understand this issue. Figure 1 shows a map of U.S. counties by DDI groups. Of the 1,031 counties with a low digital divide, 747 or 72% were considered urban (population living in urban areas 2 was more than 50%). On the other hand, of the 1,063 counties with a high digital divide, only 187 or 17.5% were urban.

Roberto looks at a number of aspects that touch on the digital divide; one that struck me was workforce situations – especially given that the data used was from 2020. It really highlights the divide between those who were ready, willing and able to work online during the early stage of the pandemic and those who weren’t.

Digital divide may not be the only issue in these areas but it’s definitely an exacerbating factor…

The digital divide is holding back counties from participating fully in the digital economy. Again, it is not clear if this would have been the case regardless of the digital divide, but nonetheless it is placing communities at a disadvantage. As shown, counties with a high digital divide lost jobs between 2010 and 2020 while counties with a low digital divide saw an 11 percent increase. Likewise, the share of occupations requiring high digital skills was larger in counties with a low digital divide. Lastly, microbusiness density and activity were also lower in counties with a high digital divide. However, regarding microbusiness activity, the issue seems to be more about sophisticated online presence rather than infrastructure and number of businesses online.

Wondering how your county did – check the list below. Only two counties were in the danger area: Aitkin and Mahnomen. Looking at how they rank in terms of access, Aitkin 79 and Mahnomen is 61.

Aitkin County High
Anoka County Low
Becker County Low
Beltrami County Low
Benton County Low
Big Stone County Moderate
Blue Earth County Low
Brown County Low
Carlton County Moderate
Carver County Low
Cass County Moderate
Chippewa County Moderate
Chisago County Low
Clay County Low
Clearwater County Moderate
Cook County Moderate
Cottonwood County Moderate
Crow Wing County Low
Dakota County Low
Dodge County Low
Douglas County Low
Faribault County Moderate
Fillmore County Low
Freeborn County Moderate
Goodhue County Low
Grant County Moderate
Hennepin County Low
Houston County Low
Hubbard County Low
Isanti County Low
Itasca County Moderate
Jackson County Low
Kanabec County Moderate
Kandiyohi County Low
Kittson County Moderate
Koochiching County Moderate
Lac qui Parle County Moderate
Lake County Moderate
Lake of the Woods County Moderate
Le Sueur County Low
Lincoln County Moderate
Lyon County Low
Mahnomen County High
Marshall County Moderate
Martin County Moderate
McLeod County Low
Meeker County Low
Mille Lacs County Moderate
Morrison County Moderate
Mower County Moderate
Murray County Moderate
Nicollet County Low
Nobles County Moderate
Norman County Moderate
Olmsted County Low
Otter Tail County Moderate
Pennington County Low
Pine County Moderate
Pipestone County Moderate
Polk County Low
Pope County Moderate
Ramsey County Low
Red Lake County Moderate
Redwood County Moderate
Renville County Moderate
Rice County Low
Rock County Low
Roseau County Low
Scott County Low
Sherburne County Low
Sibley County Low
St. Louis County Moderate
Stearns County Low
Steele County Low
Stevens County Low
Swift County Moderate
Todd County Moderate
Traverse County Moderate
Wabasha County Low
Wadena County Moderate
Waseca County Low
Washington County Low
Watonwan County Moderate
Wilkin County Moderate
Winona County Low
Wright County Low
Yellow Medicine County Moderate

RESOURCE: Accelerate: A Community Broadband Planning Program

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society shares…

This week, the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society released a new guidebook for communities that want to create their own broadband vision and goals and pursue the best possible broadband solutions for their area.

Accelerate: A Community Broadband Planning Program a collaboration of the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society and Blandin Foundation. Blandin originally designed the Accelerate Program for Minnesota, creating many of the tools shared in this guidebook. The Benton Institute is implementing the Accelerate Program in Illinois and other states with the support of Heartland Forward and its Connecting the Heartland initiative.

Guidebook author Bill Coleman provides an intro to the publication at https://www.benton.org/blog/helping-communities-prepare-broadband-opportunity

Find the new publication at https://www.benton.org/publications/Accelerate

The FCC looks at increasing broadband speed goals for rural fund areas

The FCC reports

The Federal Communications Commission voted today to seek comment on a proposal to provide additional universal service support to certain rural carriers in exchange for increasing deployment to more locations at higher speeds.  The proposal would make changes to the Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM) program, with the goal of achieving widespread deployment of faster 100/20 Mbps broadband service throughout the rural areas served by rural carriers currently receiving A-CAM support.

The ACAM Broadband Coalition submitted a proposal to create an Enhanced A-CAM program, which is the impetus for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted today.  Enhanced A-CAM, as proposed, would raise the broadband speeds required by the A-CAM programs to those generally required by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, while minimizing duplicative support across different federal broadband programs.  The Notice also proposes targeted modifications to the high-cost program rules to improve efficiency and efficacy in the program, including further streamlining of the annual reporting rules.

The Notice seeks comment on whether and how the Commission could:


  • Offer additional A-CAM support in exchange for increased broadband deployment obligations to additional locations and at higher speeds under an Enhanced A-CAM program.
  • Use the new Broadband DATA Act maps to determine any new deployment obligations.
  • Calculate support for an Enhanced A-CAM program, including whether the existing A-CAM framework continues to be appropriate.
  • Align specific proposals with Congressional intent, as well as programs at other agencies.
  • Improve the administration of the high-cost program and better safeguard the Universal Service Fund.