USDA specific funds for Tribal and Rural communities

Public Knowledge reports

Last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announced more than $1 billion in funding to promote meaningful broadband access in rural, Tribal, and socially vulnerable communities. This program has the potential to deliver robust, affordable broadband to rural and Tribal communities that is essential to their civic, economic, and educational livelihoods. The program will offer eligible recipients a mix of grants, grants and loans combined, and just loans to deploy truly robust broadband networks (capable of 100/100 Mbps upload/download broadband speeds) to eligible communities. Much of what is in the ReConnect program is consistent with Public Knowledge’s advocacy on the infrastructure bill pending before Congress, so we are excited to see the USDA’s RUS step up to deliver meaningful broadband access to rural and tribal communities.

What do we love about this program? There is a lot to love here. Specifically, in order to ensure that our most vulnerable communities, including Tribal areas, are able to benefit from this opportunity, the RUS has set aside $350 million in grant funding for Tribal governments and “socially vulnerable communities” to build 100/100 Mbps networks to their communities.

The scoring is particularly interesting…

Moreover, Public Knowledge is very excited about the evaluation criteria that will be used to award funding. Projects will be ranked and awarded funding based on criteria that includes points for addressing affordability (20 points), serving higher poverty areas (20 points), committing to net neutrality (10 points), and offering wholesale broadband service (10 points).

Even food needs better broadband – well farmers need to growing food efficiently and sustainably

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society has just released an important look at The Future of American Farming Demands Broadband. They start by making the case that farmers need broadband is to be more efficient and the environment needs it to support sustainability. I suspect most readers here understand (or live) that, so I’ll cut to some of the answers they provide based on various facets of farming…

The Farm Office
How do we ensure that farmers get reliable, symmetrical broadband service?

● Establish future-proof performance standards: To meet the growing demand among farmers for both upstream and downstream speeds, networks must be capable of 100/100 Mbps service.

● Clarify rules around easements and rights of way: State governments can address legal uncertainty around easements and rights of way, which can slow deployment and increase costs, particularly for electric cooperatives.

Incentivize build-out to the operations center: Broadband funding programs can reward applicants that deploy broadband to the operations center of the farm and other critical farm buildings.

● Support open-access, middle-mile networks: Middle-mile deployment can pack a powerful punch by bringing scalable, fiber-based connections deep into rural communities while also lowering the cost of last-mile deployment for private providers.

The Field
How can we address the special connectivity demands of farms?
● Adopt high-performance standards: Performance standards for upload speeds and latency should reflect the changing needs of farmers for precision agriculture.
● Encourage deep fiber build-out: Fiber build-out in rural America, even if not directly to the farm, will be needed to support capable wireless connections for higher-bandwidth applications in the field.
● Address gaps in mapping on farmland: Broadband maps should include mobile coverage on agricultural lands. The underlying data that informs these maps must be available to the public.
● Advocate for interoperability and privacy standards: Without better coordination about interoperability and privacy standards, farmers may be less willing to adopt precision agriculture technologies.
● Adjust spectrum award mechanisms to reward farmland coverage: Spectrum auctions can adopt geographic coverage requirements in some rural agricultural areas to encourage deployment on farmland.

The Community
How do we connect the communities that farms rely upon?
● Adopt comprehensive state broadband plans: State plans that encompass all aspects of a broadband strategy—including deployment, competition, and digital equity—are best suited to meeting states’ regional economic development and other goals.
● Support digital equity programs at the state and local levels: Digital equity programs led by state and local governments and backed by federal funding can work with communities to help people make full use of broadband connections.
● Encourage local planning and capacity building: Federal and state funding can encourage local planning and capacity building, which may include developing local or regional broadband strategies and applying for federal broadband grants.
● Implement accountability measures: Federal funding programs for broadband deployment that include strong accountability measures ensure that providers hit their deployment goals.
● Encourage local, community-oriented providers: Federal programs that support broadband can encourage entry from more broadband providers, including cooperative and community[1]based solutions.
● Facilitate federal, tribal, state, and local coordination: All levels of government should work together as partners to create opportunities for collaboration.
● Coordinate efforts of federal agencies: A coordinated effort between federal agencies will allow those agencies to synergize their respective expertise and meet the distinct needs of farmers.

I appreciate the collection of statistics and the frontline stories that give a clear picture of what life is like for farmers in rural America. Each town, farm and person’s perspective may be different based on where they are, what they are doing and even season or time of day but it’s very likely that whatever they are experiencing is different that what folks in urban areas experience. Through examples, theygive some quick lessons on fixed-wireless (pg 9), middle mile (pg 11), cooperatives (pg 12), Starlink (pg 14) and more.

They even give a nice nod to what’s happening in Minnesota and Blandin’s role in the success…

Public and private leadership working in tandem in Minnesota
One of the earliest state grant programs, Minnesota’s Border-to[1]Border Broadband Development Grant Program, was created in 2014 to assist localities, private providers, nonprofits, and cooperatives in building out broadband infrastructure in Greater Minnesota. The program funds up to 50 percent of the cost of a last-mile or middle[1]mile broadband project, including planning, permitting, construction, and installation costs. Since its inception, Border-to-Border has connected more than 56,000 homes, businesses, and anchor institutions to broadband. The eventual goal of the program is universal, “border-to[1]border” broadband coverage across Minnesota. The state plans to achieve universal 25/3 Mbps coverage by the end of 2022 and universal 100/20 Mbps coverage by the end of 2026.

Working in tandem with state broadband efforts, the Blandin Foundation, a private foundation dedicated to building healthy, inclusive rural communities in Minnesota, has partnered with dozens of rural communities to help them get and use better broadband. Participating communities work through a proven process to define their technology goals and measure current levels of broadband access and use. They receive technical assistance and grant funding to implement projects that help close the digital divide and take advantage of the extraordinary benefits of a broadband-enabled economy.

Communities that have participated in the Blandin Broadband Communities program have earned themselves a seat at the table of broadband planning. Having done the work of assessing what they have, what they want, and what they are willing to contribute to a possible project, they have a voice in what broadband solution is “good enough” for their communities.

Nearly half of the network feasibility studies commissioned by Blandin community partners and funded by the foundation have been either fully or partially built. Participating communities have dramatically increased the presence of free, publicly available internet access in libraries, public parks, downtown areas, and township halls, and have distributed more than 2,300 refurbished computers to income[1]qualifying residents in participating rural communities across Minnesota. Communities also have implemented a variety of digital literacy programs for local residents and businesses. They have spurred more sophisticated use of technology through education, training, community events, learning circles, and innovative partnerships—a total of 292 projects that address community technology goals.
Local governments and other entities across the state have endorsed and adopted Minnesota’s Broadband Vision, first articulated at a 2015 Blandin Broadband conference: “Everyone in Minnesota will be able to use convenient, affordable, world-class broadband networks that enable us to survive and thrive in our communities and across the globe.” This vision inspired the creation of the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition, which unites dozens of broadband champions from across the state to sustain broad, bipartisan support for Minnesota’s broadband grant program.
Blandin’s work in Minnesota illustrates the benefits of public and private leadership working in tandem. Investing in the capacity of communities to name and claim their own broadband vision helps to maximize public benefit from public investments such as state grant programs.

Should content providers chip in for broadband networks?

GNC reports on a report from Roslyn Layton on getting content providers to help chip in for broadband networks…

Roslyn Layton, a vice president at Strand Consult, researched four rural broadband providers and found that 75% of downstream network traffic comes from five companies: Amazon Prime, Disney+/Hulu, Microsoft Xbox, Netflix and YouTube, according to her report, “Middle Mile Economics: How streaming video entertainment undermines the business model for broadband.” The traffic from those companies drives about 90% of the net new network costs for the four rural providers.

The remaining 25% of traffic is what she terms “socially valuable” because it comes from sources such as government entities, public safety, education, health care and news sources. They account for about 10% of the network costs.

The author offers some options…

In the paper Layton presents several policy solutions. “The easiest things to do would be for the streamers to recognize that they have to contribute,” Layton said. Fees would be based on agreed thresholds and could reflect periods of peak usage — a tactic she likened to the postage Netflix used to pay to the U.S. Postal Service for mailing DVDs.

Another way to go about this is to incorporate the streaming companies into FCC’s Universal Service Fund by levying a tax on them. Created by the Communications Act of 1934 and expanded by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to include the internet, the fund seeks to ensure that everyone has access to communications, which is paid for by contributions from telecommunications providers – a percentage of their end-user revenues. Or, Layton said, FCC could calculate an amount that internet companies must pay per terabyte of data they send into the middle mile.

Another solution is to charge end users. The problem with that, she said, is that two-third of Americans who subscribe to the internet are watching movies, but one-third isn’t, so those who aren’t streaming entertainment end up paying more for services than they should. “It’s a little bit unfair,” Layton said.

A final option is taxes. The report cites a December 2020 proposal from the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society that suggests using federal and state funding to build government-owned networks that are leased to private providers under the term “Open Access Middle Mile.”

People are ready for Starlink to be great but they don’t really know

PCMag interviewed 1,041 adults about Starlink and found that people liked more than they knew…

Regardless, among the survey respondents who said they were familiar with Starlink, the obsession remains. When we asked that group whether they’d switch to the satellite ISP if or when it was available in their area, 76% said they were likely to; 40% said very likely.

That sentiment is probably informed not so much by the quality of Starlink’s service but more by how deeply people hate their current fixed-wired ISPs. Our follow-up questions showed that the majority of people agree with statements that Starlink is faster and more reliable (meaning fewer interruptions) than nationwide ISPs such as Comcast Xfinity, Verizon Fios, and Charter’s Spectrum. Sure, Starlink is faster than any satellite competitor, but it’s nowhere near faster than a cable or fiber connection today. Starlink does have the lofty goal of 10-gigabits-per-second downloads. Along with the service’s reliability, that remain to be seen.

For remote locations that are essentially disenfranchised by the major ISPs, though, any decent speed is transformative. One thing at least some of the survey respondents got right is agreeing with the statement that Starlink internet is more for rural users than city users. In fact, Starlink’s getting millions from the FCC to improve broadband in rural areas. We researched which US counties need it the most.

I’ve seen this in other places too. Especially for a report I’m hoping to share at the Blandin Broadband Conference. Rural residents are very frustrated with their existing options and they are primed to love something new. We just need to keep a balance on whether the shiny new solution meets the needs of today and tomorrow before we invest too much hope in it.

A look at broadband needs in rural MN: Walnut Grove, Redwood County and Pine County

MN Public Radio takes a look at broadband on the frontlines in rural Minnesota. In Walnut Grove…

The 31-year-old crop insurance adjuster works on a computer set up in his living room, but sometimes he has to travel to the library in a neighboring town for a steady internet connection. Other times, he uses a mobile hot spot. He gets by, Malmberg said, and others he knows, work with less.

“Up until four years ago, I think, my parents had dial-up,” he said. “They basically have dial-up still. They have 3.5 megabits per second is their [download] speed. No Netflix, no Amazon Prime. Only email, and the occasional YouTube video.”

In Redwood County…

“Internet is now as necessary as electricity and water,” said Briana Mumme, Redwood County economic development coordinator. “I mean, like these are just part of how we do life. You just have to have access to it.”

About 90 percent of households have a computer statewide, according to the Blandin Foundation, and 81 percent have a laptop; 76 percent have a smartphone and 59 percent have a tablet. But, there are many areas in Minnesota, Mumme said, where access to high-speed internet is limited and working remotely and distance learning have run into problems, which was the case for one college student she knows who moved back home during the pandemic.

“In order for him to attend school, he literally had to drive to his grandparents house, back into town where the bandwidth was bigger or more robust,” she said. “So he could actually do school.”

In Pine County…

Other rural counties are also competing for better broadband and have seen the shift in how their communities are viewing the necessity for it. Lezlie Sauter, Pine County economic development coordinator, said COVID-19 revealed a lot of disparities where better internet access was needed in northern Minnesota.

“I think that the pandemic opened up our eyes to, ‘we have to be able to pivot and do work online,’ ” Sauter said. “I don’t think our community was prepared for it. I think some people were, but most of us viewed the internet and broadband as a luxury and it’s something we use to stream video and Netflix and all those things. But, we did not see how important it would be to keep conducting business.”

Wisconsin looks at failed history of federal funding for broadband

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel does a nice job detailing the illustrious history of federal funding for broadband over the past few Administrations. The title of the article says it all…

With poor data, deficient requirements and little oversight, massive public spending still hasn’t solved the rural internet access problem

There isn’t a lot new in the summary but it’s a good and succinct account, starting with the stories of people who have been waiting for decades for the federal funds to trickle down to deploy broadband to their homes and including lots of good details, facts and figures. They boil the issue to a few high level points: inadequate mapping of the problem and minimal requirements and even less administration.

The need…

The Federal Communications Commission has said that nationwide around 14 million people lack access to broadband, also known as high-speed internet. However, the firm Broadband Now, which helps consumers find service, estimates it’s closer to 42 million. And although Microsoft Corp. doesn’t have the ability to measure everyone’s actual internet connection, the tech giant says approximately 120 million Americans aren’t using the internet at true broadband speeds of at least 25-megabit-per-second downloads and 3 Mbps uploads — a further indication of how many people have been left behind.

The attempts so far…

None of the efforts under any of the administrations succeeded, and some of the reasons were fairly straightforward. The data on who has broadband  — and who doesn’t  — has been flawed. Some of the upgrades quickly became obsolete. There’s been limited accountability.

“We have given away $40 billion in the last 10 years … and haven’t solved the problem,” said Tom Wheeler, who was FCC chairman in Obama’s administration. “I always thought the definition of insanity was doing things the same way over and over and believing that, somehow, something will change.”

And so the digital divide, which some say has become a chasm, remains.

And the funders having little to say about who gets service…

Under the Connect America Fund requirements, grant recipients had a great deal of latitude in where they deployed upgrades. They were allowed, for example, to bypass thinly populated sections of rural counties and make up the difference in other CAF II-eligible areas that had more customers.

It’s really hurt places like Price County, according to Hallstrand, who says the government subsidies should be used to cover the areas most in need of better service before the money’s spent in other places.

“That’s how rural America gets broadband,” he said.

In one rural Wisconsin county after another, Connect America Fund II has left a trail of skepticism and frustration. Many communities have initiated their own broadband expansion projects, seeking state grants and local partnerships, because they haven’t seen much help from the federal government and big-name service providers.

Mankato Free Press on rural wins in Legislature

Mankato Free Press outlines the impacts of 2021 Legislative session on rural Minnesota…

Outstate Minnesota was not forgotten in the final decisions of the Minnesota Legislature as investments will flow into child care, broadband, meat packing and some regulations will be eased for farmers.

The specifics on broadband…

Broadband efforts also found widespread bipartisan support as the Legislature approved some $70 million in broadband funding for projects over the next two years. While that is only moderately higher than the last two years and the needs are said to be near $200 million, the initial funding will likely be followed with years of higher funding as federal COVID funds come through the pipeline.

Significant areas of outstate Minnesota have no or very poor broadband coverage making running a business difficult and leaving some school kids going to McDonald’s to connect to Wi-Fi.

White House says Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework invests $65 billion

The White House reports

Today, despite the fact that rural and Tribal communities across the country are asset-rich, they make up a disproportionate number of persistent poverty communities. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework invests in rural and Tribal communities, creating jobs in rural America and wealth that stays in rural America. The Framework delivers 100% broadband coverage, rebuilds crumbling infrastructure like roads and bridges, eliminates lead pipes and service lines, builds resilience to climate change and extreme weather events, and puts Americans to work cleaning up pollution that has impacted fossil fuel communities in rural America.

In addition to being the largest-long term investment in our infrastructure in nearly a century – four times the infrastructure investment in the 2009 Recovery Act – the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework is a generational investment in rural America.

Here’s what they say about broadband…

Provide high speed internet to every home. More than 35 percent of rural Americans and Tribal communities lack wired access to broadband at acceptable speeds. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework invests $65 billion, including through USDA rural broadband programs, to make high-speed internet available to all Americans, bring down high-speed internet prices across the board, and provide technical assistance to communities seeking to expand broadband. With the 1936 Rural Electrification Act, the Federal government made a historic investment in bringing electricity to nearly every home and farm in America, and millions of families and our economy reaped the benefits. Broadband internet is the new electricity. It is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to accelerate precision agriculture, to participate equally in school learning and health care, and to stay connected.

New research shows: household of four requires 131/73 Mbps of bandwidth

Telecom Review reports

Research commissioned by the FBA and presented in the white paper indicates that in 2021, a household of four requires 131/73 Mbps of bandwidth and will grow to 2,141/2,044 Mbps by 2030. This makes today’s definition of broadband speeds unusable, as the FCC currently defines broadband as a mere 25/3 Mbps for Americans and 50/10 Mbps for Canadians. These antiquated definitions of broadband affect the rural populations of North America the most. FBA’s research found that 62% of the most rural areas have the lowest performing broadband with speeds for the lowest quantile at 4/1 Mbps.

To eliminate the rural digital divide, the white paper suggests attention and investment should be placed on the most effective rural broadband infrastructure. The research presents that, without exception, there is no communications medium nearly as effective or future proof as fiber optics. Fiber’s transmission capacity can be increased almost infinitely as needed to supply any level of bandwidth. Fiber is immune to electrical interference and requires fewer powered nodes, enabling it to serve as the most consistent and reliable technology option. Additionally, the cost to operate a fiber-to-the-home system is lower than other broadband methods.

“The investment in fiber networks in rural areas to close the digital divide has never been more important. Not only does fiber provide the necessary infrastructure needed for communities to work, learn, shop and play from home, it has the added benefit of creating jobs and fueling the economy in these rural parts of North America,” said Deborah Kish, Vice President of Research and Marketing at the Fiber Broadband Association. “As the federal government makes plans to spend billions of dollars towards America’s digital infrastructure, deploying fiber proves to be the soundest and cost-effective investment.”

Land O’Lakes leading corporate call out for better broadband

The Farmer writes about the role of Land O’Lakes in improving rural broadband. I’ve written about this program in the past, but always good to see word spread…

While federal and state broadband investments surge and fade, there is one supporter is carrying the banner for rural interconnectivity.

Leadership at the farmer-owned co-op Land O’Lakes has voiced concern about the digital divide for several years. More than a year ago, it started the American Connection Project (ACP), which encompasses a three-point mission: lobbying for interconnectivity, providing free Wi-Fi in rural areas and training young adults to help rural communities navigate broadband implementation and stimulate economic development.

“We started working on ACP prior to Covid,” says Tina May, Land O’Lakes vice president of rural services. “We’ve been working on it for over two years. The reason? It’s about access in rural communities. Covid showed us it is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity in every community, every house and every farm.”

They get into some of the details.

The bigger picture with rural broadband access for all encompasses economic development and revitalization of rural communities. That’s where ACP’s American Connection Corps comes into play. The American Connection Corps, funded by 20 organizations, is providing two-year fellowships for 53 young professionals in 12 states, including Minnesota, to work on coordinating local, state and federal resources for broadband access. The fellows also will focus on expanding digital literacy and connecting young people within their community to spur business and nonprofit activity.

“The pandemic showed us that if there is broadband available, you can do your job anywhere,” May says. ACC will announce in late July who the new fellows are and where they will be located. Six will be assigned in Minnesota.

“The fellows will get robust training, as the scope of their work will be difficult,” she adds. “I’m excited to see what they can do.”

EVENTS: 100 rural MN gatherings, 100 rural MN communities.

From our friends at 100 Rural Women…

Join us this summer as we will be “traveling” (virtually) across the state of Minnesota by region during the summer of 2021. Overall we will hold 30 meetings across Minnesota in an effort to create connections, explore existing formal and informal networks of rural women and discuss what leadership looks like for women. Our goal is to ignite action in community, leadership, civic engagement, and rural entrepreneurship, while simultaneously identifying opportunities and connecting local women to each other.

Click here to Sign up for a gathering

I’m hoping folks will join and make sure that broadband is a hot topic!

Quarantine rules help spread telehealth options for rural moms-to-be in Bemidji

The Bemidji Pioneer reports

If there’s a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be how it sped up a change in prenatal care that could improve outcomes for rural mothers and babies.

Dr. Johnna Nynas, an OB/GYN physician at Sanford Health in Bemidji, discussed her hospital’s move to offering virtual visits during the past year.

“We started laying the groundwork a couple of years ago,” said Nynas. “We looked at implementing a virtual visit option that provided patients with some equipment to monitor their pregnancies at home, including a blood pressure cuff, and then a Doppler, so they can listen to their baby at home. But what really thrust us to the forefront and accelerated the timeline was the COVID pandemic.”

Technical and legal challenges involved the interface between patients at home and their medical records. But with the onset of the pandemic, Nynas said, “there were rapid changes in Congress that made it much easier for health care organizations to initiate telehealth.”

They need better broadband…

There are still barriers that need to be addressed, such as broadband and cellular access in rural areas and for lower-income families. And there are days when the technology doesn’t work as well as others, and doctors have to make do with voice-only telephone visits.

Still, Nynas said, virtual visits will likely continue even after COVID-19 fades from public awareness.

There is a need…

The disparity is real. Nynas quoted shocking statistics: 23 percent of American women live in rural areas, but only 6% of OB/GYNs practice in rural areas. “That’s the challenge that we’re up against,” she said.

The benefit of prenatal care is also real, even for women whose pregnancies are considered low-risk. “It’s better to connect with prenatal care and get that care when and however you can,” said Nynas, “because getting no prenatal care is definitely correlated with worse outcomes.”

At the same time, the costs of running a labor and delivery unit while performing fewer deliveries are widening the gap between rural patients and the care they need. “That’s where being able to offer services remotely can be a really helpful thing,” she said.

Telehealth is here to stay in rural Minnesota

WCCO TV reports

WCCO found the successes and the future of the practice for some patients in outstate Minnesota.

A former firefighter and medic, it was a bad fall after retirement that put Bart Cedergren in a wheelchair.

He lives up north with his wife. The three doctor visits a month could take much of the day, but are now done in a fraction of the time because they’re all online.

“Telemedicine I think is the wave of the future,” Cedergren said. “The only thing we go in for these days are basically lab.”

Family Nurse Practitioner Janelle Terhaar now dedicates one full office day a week in Long Prairie to her telehealth patients.

“We went from maybe having one or two a month to now we’re maybe having steady patients every day,” Terhaar said.

From parents with a sick child, behavioral health, and an older population, Terhaar says patient profiles come from all over and that even web cams don’t lie.

Rural areas need broadband to attract rural workers

New York Times reports

“How do you get young people to want to move back into these rural areas when they feel like they’re moving back into a time frame of 20 years ago?” asked Mr. Weiler, the company’s founder and chief executive.

Rural areas have complained for years that slow, unreliable or simply unavailable internet access is restricting their economic growth. But the pandemic has given new urgency to those concerns, at the same time that President Biden’s infrastructure plan — which includes $100 billion to improve broadband access — has raised hope that the problem might finally be addressed.

“It creates jobs connecting every American with high-speed internet, including 35 percent of the rural America that still doesn’t have it,” Mr. Biden said of his plan in an address to Congress last month. “This is going to help our kids and our businesses succeed in the 21st-century economy.”

Mr. Biden has received both criticism and praise for pushing to expand the scope of infrastructure to include investments in child care, health care and other priorities beyond the concrete-and-steel projects that the word normally calls to mind. But ensuring internet access is broadly popular. In a recent survey conducted for The New York Times by the online research platform SurveyMonkey, 78 percent of adults said they supported broadband investment, including 62 percent of Republicans.

Businesses, too, have consistently supported broadband investment. Major industry groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers have all released policy recommendations in the last year calling for federal spending to help close the “digital divide.”

Defining broadband is an issue…

Quantifying that divide, and its economic cost, is difficult, in part because there is no agreed-upon definition of broadband. The Federal Communications Commission in 2015 updated its standards to a minimum download speed of 25 megabits per second. The Department of Agriculture sets its standard lower, at 10 m.p.s. A bipartisan group of rural-state senators asked both agencies this year to raise their standards to 100 m.p.s. And speed-based definitions don’t take into account other issues, like reliability and latency, a measure of how long a signal takes to travel between a computer and a remote server.

The definition matters in terms of getting government support to improve access, but the definition doesn’t matter to the consumer. All that matters to the consumer is that it works…

According to the F.C.C.’s definition, most of Marion County has high-speed access to the internet. But residents report that service is slow and unreliable. And with only one provider serving much of the county, customers have little leverage to demand better service.

The area needs more workers, but new workers, especially younger workers, will not move to an areas without broadband…

Local leaders have plans to attract new businesses and a younger generation of workers — but those plans won’t work without better internet service, said Mark Raymie, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors.

Women leading in Rural Broadband Connectivity: Notes and Video

This morning, 100 Rural Women hosted a conversion on rural broadband. It was a full (virtual) room of women who live on the frontlines of rural Minnesota. There was a discussion between Bernadine Joselyn, Director of Policy and Engagement at the Blandin Foundation and Tina May, Chief of Staff and Vice President at Land O’Lakes moderated by Benya Kraus from Lead for America.

We learned a lot about the new American Connection Corps. We had an honest discussion on why Minnesota doesn’t have ubiquitous broadband yet. We talked about why access to broadband is an issue that impacts women. (For example, Moms were 68.8 percent more likely to take leave from jobs during the pandemic than fathers.)
And we got a taste of Women’s March MN’s Time to Action events, where members learn about an issue and take time to act.