Arvig extends FTTH to 10,000 households in St Cloud, Rochester and Twin Cities

Presswire reports (shares a press release)…

Today, telecommunications and broadband provider Arvig has announced it has installed a fiber optic connection into more than 10,000 townhome, condo and apartment units within the Twin Cities, St. Cloud, and Rochester area. The telecommunications provider continues to grow its high-speed internet connectivity offerings, a service that has become increasingly important with many now working and learning from home because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Frontier and CenturyLink report they may not have met CAF II deployment deadlines for 2020 – in MN and other states

Telecompetitor reports

The CAF II program awarded funding to the nation’s larger carriers to bring broadband to unserved and underserved rural areas within their local service territories. Frontier accepted $283 million in funding annually and CenturyLink accepted $514 million annually.

Funding recipients were given six years to complete buildouts to a specific number of locations and were given interim deadlines to complete deployment to a specific percentage of locations.

In a letter to the FCC, CenturyLink said it met or exceeded the program’s December 31, 2020 milestone in 10 states but may not have met the 100% milestone in 23 states. Frontier told the FCC that it met the year-end 2020 milestone in eight states but may not have reached it in 17 other states.

The companies must report more definitive deployment data by March 1.

Last year at this time, Frontier said it had met the CAF II deployment milestones for year-end 2019 in 16 states but might not have met the target in 13 others. CenturyLink said it had met milestones in 10 states but might miss the target in 23 others.

Frontier filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2020, but attributed this year’s deployment delays to the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than the bankruptcy.

Neither company reports meeting their goals in Minnesota…

According to CenturyLink, states for which the company may not have met its 2020 CAF II deployment target include Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

States for which Frontier may not have met its 2020 CAF II deployment target include Alabama, Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

Frontier said it expects to meet its final CAF II deployment milestone by June 30 in all outstanding states except Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, where the expected completion date is September 30.

The frustration is that this leaves many people without broadband – again. The goal is to build to 25/3 (even lower in some areas) and they haven’t done that. To put that in perspective, it does not get them closer to the MN State speed goal of 100/20 by 2026. In Minnesota we are used to the State MN border to border broadband grant rules where project must build networks that are scalable to 100/100. That is not the case with these networks and getting to 25/3 does not mean getting to 100/20 will be easier.

Also there is the concern for customers that the promise or threat of building has kept competitors out of their market. The promise of a CAF II network has made it more difficult for the communities to get funding from other sources. CAF II funding focused on the providers only – communities didn’t not sign up or on to the program.

MN House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee hears from Telecom folks

The House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee heard from a number of broadband providers and Minnesota League of Cities. It’s a chance for the legislators to learn a little bit about the providers and the type of broadband. Folks talked about what policies would make their lives easier, the investments they had made in Minnesota and their roles in helping during the pandemic. It’s helpful for legislators and I suspect the testifiers become the go-to people for telecom information.

I always think the questions are the most interesting part – because of course I’m better acquainted with what the providers are doing than what the legislators are thinking. Folks asked about 5G, autonomous cars, 911 outages and Internet of Things.

[The permanent video is now in place. please note the link for the YouTube video will change once YouTube archives, the live video – while it’s the live (which will be most of Jan 20), you’ll have to “rewind” to the start of the meeting by moving the cursor that times the video to the left. Hard to guestimate how far to the left as the video gets longer each minute. I will change the link when the archive is available but that change might not happen immediately.]

The Committee heard from several testifier. You can watch above. And I have “tweetable” notes below, which means I Tweeted as I took notes so they are in that format:

Starting now! Commerce Finance and Policy Info on Telecom.

Speakers include:

  • – Brent Christensen, MN Telecom Alliance.
  • – Dana Bailey, Lumen.
  • – Patrick Fucik, TMobile.
  • – Paul Weirtz, AT&T.
  • – Daniel Lightfoot, League of Minnesota Cities.

*No formal action will be taken. 

Brent Christensen, MN Telecom Alliance.

  • -They put the “wire in wireless”
  • Regulated by MN PUC, Dep of COmmernce, Attorney General and FCC

Dana Bailey, Lumen

  • Formerly CenturyLink
  • POTS has been overshadowed by competition
  • Invested $200M in Broadband in MN
  • Wants to change 237.025

Patrick Fucik, TMobile.

  • Second largest wireless company
  • Goal to provide 97% of US with 5G low band in 3 years
  • Spectrum access makes it possible 80% of MN sites are 5G low band
  • Accelerated #COVID19 programs for students

Paul Weirtz, AT&T.

  • Traffic rose 20% in March (COVID)
  • $125B investment in wired/wireless service in 3 years
  • Launched 5G across MN in 2020
  • Committed to FirstNet

Daniel Lightfoot, League of Minnesota Cities

  • Works on rights of way for cities
  • Tries to allow tech growth AND city authority to manage and be compensated
  • Cord cutting puts PEG at risk


Q: What are the problems with 911 outages?
A: They are upgrading to digital 911 
A: There were outages with our network. Often issue with weather or equipment @lumentechco

“Networks are moving to IP – why would I need cable unless they are my broadband provider. Thanks and congrats to ramping up via COVID. There were issues with latency but that seems to be fix. IoT creates a drain on the network.” @EricLuceroMN

Q: How can we facilitate 5G? @BarbHaleyMN
A: Let us know city plans so we can react. Make it easy to get permits? @PaulWeirtz
A: Passing the 5G small cell legislation makes it easier. @FucikR

Q: Will there be conflicts with 5G cabinets and autonomous cars? @ElkinsForHouse
A: We are looking at it and we’re going to need open lines of communication. @DFLightfoot


FCC 10th Measuring Broadband America Fixed Broadband Report

The FCC has released the most recent Measuring Broadband America Fixed Broadband Report. It presents perspectives on empirical performance for data collected in September and October 2019 from the following fixed Internet Service Providers:

  • CenturyLink
  • Charter Communications
  • Cincinnati Bell
  • Comcast
  • Cox Communications
  • Frontier Communications Company
  • Mediacom Communications Corporation
  • Optimum
  • Verizon
  • Windstream Communications

I’m just including a few of the table highlights…

Most Popular Advertised Service Tiers

Weighted average advertised download speed among the top 80% service tiers offered by each ISP

The ratio of weighted median speed (download and upload) to advertised speed for each ISP.

The ratio of 80/80 consistent median download speed to advertised download speed.

Weighted average advertised upload speed among the top 80% service tiers offered by each ISP.

Burnsville not interested in sharing public fiber with private parties

A lot of times, broadband gets built as a public-private partnership. It feeds into the dig once ethos – of put as much fiber as you can info the ground at once. So a public agency might share the “pipe” with a private partner and each gets so many strands of fiber. Dakota County has done a lot of this with the idea that local government can support broadband for end users but through partnerships with private providers, they don’t need to serve the end users. The Dakota Broadband Board (DBB) works on leveraging such opportunities.

It looks like Burnsville is interested in doing things differently. Council Member Dan Gustafson has been the Burnsville seat DBB for two years. But recently the Burnsville City Council voted to replace Gustafson with Council Member Cara Schulz as the council’s representative to the DBB. The reason is because a majority of the Burnsville City Council do not support the public-private sharing of broadband.

The Sun This Week reports

The replacement reflects a long-running policy dispute on the council over the direction of a board formed in 2017 to efficiently manage cities’ individual fiber networks and support broadband expansion.

[Burnsville City Councilmembers] Schulz, Kealey and Workman oppose using excess capacity on the publicly owned “I-net” linking government buildings and utilities as a “C-net” that private Internet service providers can lease.

“Through these partnerships, additional businesses and residents throughout Dakota County can be served, and communities can pursue future economic development opportunities,” the board says on its website.

Burnsville “may be headed off the DBB” because the board is pursuing the C-net, Kealey said during Tuesday’s council meeting. The council’s majority position is “quite different from what it might have been five years ago or four years ago.”

Here’s the view of sharing infrastructure…

In a post-meeting interview, Gustafson said the council originally joined the board — an initiative of the county’s Community Development Agency — knowing that part of its mission was economic development through access to high-speed broadband not uniformly available throughout the county.

C-net lease availability could attract new Internet and content providers to serve residents and businesses and foster competition, Gustafson said.

“The three of them don’t want that to happen,” he said. “They want to keep the incumbents in place.”

The city would collect a lease fee and the community would get better service, he said.

And the view of NOT sharing infrastructure…

In a post-meeting interview, Schulz said federal law is the barrier to competition, and C-net leases paid by private providers would be heavily subsidized because of the public cost of maintaining the fiber network.

Eagan, which didn’t join the county broadband board, lost “millions” on its own C-net, Schulz said.

In the years since the board formed under a joint powers agreement, the county has gained access to other funds it can use to run fiber to areas without high-speed service, she said.

“What we don’t want, is we don’t want the city in competition with businesses to provide something that businesses provide,” Schulz said. “We’re not going to suddenly get into selling clothes, either.”

The C-net was “just an idea that didn’t get done before it was outdated,” Schulz said. The concept is outdated “both in technology and where we’re at with infrastructure,” she said.

North Idaho internet provider blocks Facebook, Twitter for customers who want to block them

I know this isn’t Minnesota but this was concerning news from KARE 11

A North Idaho internet provider, Your T1 WIFI, confirmed it is blocking Facebook and Twitter from its WIFI service for some customers due to censorship claims.

Your T1 WIFI provides internet services to North Idaho and the Spokane area.

The move comes after Twitter and Facebook banned President Trump from their platforms due to incitement of violence and undermining the transition of power to President elect Joe Biden.

The social media sites banned the President due to violations of their terms of service. Because Twitter and Facebook are private companies, their bans on the President do not violate the First Amendment, which protects speech from being limited by the government.

Your T1 WIFI’s actions, however, could violate Washington state’s Net Neutrality law.

Your T1 WIFI said it decided to block Twitter and Facebook after the company received several calls from customers about both websites.

Without irony, the ISP is blocking those site because they don’t think they have the authority to censor…

In an email posted to Twitter by a customer, Krista Yep, the company says it was fielding calls from customers asking that the service not display the sites on the internet, and that they didn’t want their children to be able to access them.

“Our company does not believe a website or social networking site has the authority to censor what you see and post and hide information from you, stop you from seeing what your friends and family are posting,” the email reads. “This is why with the amount of concerns, we have made this decision to block these two websites from being accessed from our network.”

Apparently they got complaints and decided to block Facebook and Twitter. Then they got complaints about blocking the sites and now you can have it either way. The article says two-thirds of customers asked for Twitter and Facebook to be blocked.

There is concern that this may be illegal…

While Your T1 WIFI says they acted in response to censorship, the company’s actions could also be considered censorship. In addition, they may violate Washington state’s Net Neutrality law, which states that internet providers may not manipulate access to content.

The law contains the following language:

A person engaged in the provision of broadband internet access service in Washington state, insofar as the person is so engaged, may not:
(a) Block lawful content, applications, services, or nonharmful devices, subject to reasonable network management;
(b) Impair or degrade lawful internet traffic on the basis of internet content, application, or service, or use of a nonharmful device, subject to reasonable network management; or
(c) Engage in paid prioritization

A spokesperson for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s office said the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division was “taking a look at the matter.” Brionna Aho, a spokesperson for Attorney General Bob Ferguson, said he takes enforcement of the net neutrality law “very seriously.”

It highlights the importance of broadband competition. What if this was the only provider if your area?

Internet outage in Red Wing brings us a new form of “snow day”

RiverTowns.Net reports…

Call it a cable day instead of a snow day late start. Shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 5, [Red Wings School]Superintendent Karsten Anderson called for classes to start at least two hours late because one of the community’s two internet companies suffered a line break.

Hiawatha Broadband’s outage reportedly involves a portion of southeastern Minnesota.

“As a result of that outage, many students and staff members do not have access to the internet or to the school learning platform,” Anderson said.

The disruption affects classes for all K-12 students, who are in full distance learning, regardless of whether they still have internet access.

At 9:45 a.m., he issued a second stating that the internet had been restored. K-6 students could log in at 9:50 a.m. High School students were notified how their four-block schedule was revised.

On the one hand this is a fun story on how “snow days” may not be entirely gone. And if you’ve grown up in a cold climate, you probably have a place in your heart for snow days. One the other hand, this is a reminder of how important secure, reliable broadband is at every level. If you’re Internet went out today – what could your family do and not do. The list is different since the pandemic and I think that list is changed permanently.

Rosemount City review – included broadband update through Charter

Sun This Week Reports

Rural residents of Rosemount got some good news in 2020 when Charter Communications announced a $1 million construction project to bring its fiber-optic network to nearly 265 homes in the northwestern part of the city.

As part of Minnesota’s Broadband Grant Program, Charter was awarded a $500,000 grant to expand its services to 40 unserved and 225 underserved locations in the northwestern Rosemount area.

AT&T to build FirstNet tower in Cook County

Minneapolis Star Tribune reports…

The Cook County Board on Tuesday approved a lease agreement allowing AT&T to build a tower on public land, a decision that sparked controversy among locals and visitors who prefer the region remain off the grid.

Rena Rogers, Cook County’s management information systems director, said the cellphone provider asked to construct a tower near Gunflint Lake so that first responders can access the company’s FirstNet service. Members of the public will also receive regular service. …

The tower will also have room to hold three service providers, should competitors like Verizon or T-Mobile want to venture Up North. Currently, service stops about halfway up the Gunflint Trail.

It was interesting to hear the importance places on the aesthetics of the tower…

“We’re trying really hard to find a balance between service and minimizing impact,” Rogers said.

The new structure will be less than 200 feet tall and built near an existing radio tower “to protect the view shed,” she said. It will not be lit at night to protect the area’s night skies — an asset increasingly used to promote regional tourism.

I understand the conundrum but I don’t hear a “con” for technology deployment now the way I used to years ago. But it’s nice to know that they are thinking about all sides.

“RDOF was a major fail” says MN Task Force member … we need to alert MN legislators

As promised, there’s more commentary coming on the RDOF results. And as a quick reminder – LTD was awarded nearly $312 million to build Gigabit broadband in Minnesota in the next 10 years. People are skeptical that this will happen, as MinnPost reports

In an interview, Corey Hauer, LTD Broadband’s CEO, said he was confident his company could grow fast and meet the challenge. But local competitors and broadband experts said they were concerned LTD could not deliver what it promised, especially since the company has focused primarily on wireless internet technology while it now promises fiber-optic connections.

The award came up at the last MN Broadband Task Forde meeting last Friday.

You can hear concern from at least one member about the ability of LTD (the big winner in Minnesota) to deploy the broadband that they have promised. The concern is multifaceted. Their primary concern with the federal funding is that it won’t happen. From the Task Force perspective, the greater concern is that legislators will assume that RDOF will serve the proposed areas and that therefore no further state funding is needed. An unintended consequence is that the promised funding might prevent other providers from going into those areas, companies that would have provided folks with speeds that would meet the MN broadband state goals. They are concerned that unlike what happens with Minnesota’s state program, the FCC will not follow through with oversight on provider performance.

Funny enough, an earlier iteration of the Broadband Task Force heard from LTD in February 2018. He spoke about their fixed wireless service – not fiber, which I think reflects the concerns that people have about LTD being able to fulfill the obligations it undertook through the RDOF application. They have a history of fixed wireless, not fiber. He also notes that speeds of 10/1 can be as welcome to some customers as 25/3. Again, this is from Feb 2018.

As you can hear, CEO Corey Hauser said that 80 percent of traffic comes from streamlining services. He spoke about the services they provided at the time:

  • 3 Mbps
  • 6 Mbps
  • 10 Mbps
  • 25 Mbps

(Presumably he is talking about download, since that was his focus.) He mentioned that Netflix usually required 2.5Mbps. He could only think of one use for Gig access – game updates. Then he outlines a number of applications and required speeds.

He spoke about cable companies and complaints about broadband pricing. And complaints about telecom broadband service in cities.

He spoke about utilities, building the case that a fixed wireless company has several options for broadband services. About minute 18:30 – he speaks about State funding for broadband – making the case that the State shouldn’t spend money “Cadillac” services when a lesser car will do. He’s annoyed that State funding has gone to overbuild areas where he already provides 25/3 services. He was annoyed because the services that he provided was not considered broadband by Minnesota statute. Annoyed at MN maps because they didn’t reflect his services.

He asks and answers: Why is fixed wireless best? Capital costs because he doesn’t have to spend money to reach every house until they want it. So a lower take rate isn’t a problem for LTD.

About minute 28:20, he speaks about TV White Spaces.

About min 29:42, he takes umbrage of the 25/3 speed goal as 10/1 is also a responsible service as compared to no service or satellite service. He also spoke about the CAF tiers – comparing the 25/3 and 10/1 tiers – saying both have their place.

It may be valuable to note that Reps Baker and Layman were in the meeting as well and clearly Rep Baker had been in earlier communication with LTD. It led to s discussion on government investing in technology that meets the needs today and in the future.

It would be great to see Minnesota get the upgrade that’s promised with RDOF funding – the concern is that it won’t happen and with a dibs on certain communities for 10 years, those communities are in danger of falling farther and farther behind.

NTCA report surveys rural broadband providers: aiming for fiber

NTCA reports on their members’ current and future broadband

To gauge the deployment rates of advanced services by its member companies, for nearly two decades NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association (NTCA) has conducted its Broadband/Internet Availability Survey. NTCA is a national association representing nearly 850 rural rate-of-return regulated telecommunications providers in 45 states.
All NTCA members are small network operators that are “rural telephone companies” as defined in the Communications Act of 1934, as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. All of NTCA’s
members are full service local exchange carriers and broadband service providers. Respondents to this
year’s survey report an average of 3,978 residential and 456 business fixed broadband connections in service.

It’s a look at how the non-national, local folks are doing. I look at these numbers and think about the Minnesota broadband goals of 25/3 by 2022 and 100/20 by 2026. I also think about the comparative goals – the ones that say Minnesota is aiming to be a broadband leader and I wonder if those speeds goals will still get us there.

And interesting to see the adoption spikes in the last year – likely due to increased need with the pandemic restrictions.


USTelecom industry giants outline their hopes for Biden’s broadband policies

USTelecom is the national trade association representing technology providers, innovators, suppliers, and manufacturers committed to connecting the world through the power of broadband. They have come up with recommendations for the Biden Administration’s first 100 days in office – as related to broadband and telecom.

Topics include:

It’s great to have an organization with such prominence highlight the need for better broadband. There are lots of recommendations that make good sense to everyone – like the bottom line goal of getting everyone connected. And there are a few details that might serve as red flags to non-industry folks. I’ve pasted specifics on connecting every American below. You’ll see many points of agreement.

There are a few that won’t get ubiquitous approval since they lift up the needs of the industry more than the nation, such as: Decisively reject any proposal that would treat broadband networks like a government utility and Immediately halt DOD plans to establish its own commercial 5G network or select a single gatekeeper for its communications.

USTelecom’s 100-Day Actions

  •  Advance legislation to rapidly and fully invest in the broadband infrastructure programs required to quickly and permanently close the digital divide in America. USTelecom members are ready to immediately go to work with government partners to build these networks, including fiber investment deeper into all corners of America.
  • Fund the Broadband Data Act so the FCC can promptly map every home and business without broadband to ensure finite taxpayer resources are targeted efficiently and quickly.
  • Ensure the broadband workforce continues to be designated as essential workers with ready and reliable access to PPE so they can safely do their jobs keeping the country connected.
  • Move quickly to address antiquated policies that create barriers to broadband deployment and industry competition. From expedited permitting, to lifting mandates that require companies to sustain outdated networks rather than devote more resources to deploying next-generation networks, to rooting-out discriminatory pole attachment rates, all policies should be viewed with an eye toward removing barriers that impede getting broadband to everyone.
  • Signal a clear and collaborative infrastructure policy course that encourages all to invest with confidence in the nation’s broadband future.
    • Decisively reject any proposal that would treat broadband networks like a government utility. The coronavirus has challenged networks with unprecedented demand—and our members have risen to the challenge. Our nation’s recovery requires that we sustain and encourage this outstanding performance, not put it at risk under the heavy weight of bureaucracy and red tape.
    • Immediately halt DOD plans to establish its own commercial 5G network or select a single gatekeeper for its communications. Rather than working at odds with our nation’s facilities-based broadband partners—which have the unique financial, operating and technical wherewithal, the vast fiber-based plant, and the needed economies of scale to get the job done—continue to work shoulder to shoulder with us to advance our nation’s security and prosperity by quickly repurposing for consumer use as much government spectrum as possible through battle-tested, innovative auction processes led by the FCC.

LTD Broadband is big winner in MN – that’s different

Earlier this week FCC announced the winners of the RDOF funding. There was a standout winner in Minnesota – LTD Broadband. In fact, beyond Minnesota, the LTD Broadband win is one of the biggest in the US. I’ve heard from several people who have been surprised by this. This is the first, but may not be the last, compilation of what folks are saying about RDOF.

Muninetworks (Chris Mitchell) is also in a mode of comment gathering…

The auction resulted in far more gigabit – 85% of locations I believe – than anyone expected, at far lower subsidy than expected. However, there is a lot of frustration and confusion because it is not clear that some of the top bidders can deliver. NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association – shared my original enthusiasm for RDOF and our concerns – best articulated over the years by Jon Chambers from Conexon – that the FCC was going to blow this auction by not ensuring those who bid had the capacity to deliver on the promised level of service. Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA, wrote this and recently tweeted on this:
Not feeling quite as bullish about this final outcome for RDOF #1 and worry that it will take years to show that rural America is still waiting for #broadband and resources needed will be gone. Hoping @FCC has a robust back-end review so the process won’t fail Americans again.

Doug Dawson, President of CCG Consulting, has addressed this in the greatest detail so far, arguing that this “means the FCC believes that fixed wireless technology is the functional equivalent of fiber” even though the underlying point-to-multipoint architecture “can’t be used to deliver giant bandwidth to more than a few customers – and it’s not really designed to deliver gigabit download, and certainly not a symmetrical gigabit.” The result? “By allowing WISPS to claim gigabit capabilities, the FCC cheated huge numbers of people out of getting fiber.”

And specifically about LTD…

But the real puzzle is LTD Broadband, the WISP that took away the biggest awards. They are slated to get $1.3 billion over the next 10 years to build gigabit to more than 500,000 locations – often islands in the middle of non-subsidized areas.

Notice that LTD only qualified to bid to build fiber at the gigabit tier. They do not have permission to substitute wireless, from what I (and everyone else I have talked to) understand.

OK, so what? Assume that LTD will just build fiber. Cooperative Network Solutions has published a map of the winners. These are high cost areas that were bid so long ago that successful fiber network operators in the adjacent areas decided the subsidies were too low for them. Somehow LTD is going to get financing and the expertise to build these areas all out with lower subsidies than what local folks could do?  Seems improbable.

MinnPost also spoke about LTD…

While local broadband advocates celebrated the infusion of cash, the grant awards also raised some eyebrows. That’s because one relatively small company with Minnesota ties came away with the vast majority of the federal money for the state: LTD Broadband.

The company won nearly $312 million to develop high-speed internet in Minnesota, which is far more than was granted to other competitors, including larger companies like CenturyLink and local cooperatives like Arrowhead Electric. LTD Broadband’s success stretched beyond Minnesota, too. The company was awarded $1.32 billion in total for projects across 15 states, the highest amount of cash for any company in the FCC’s round of grants.

In an interview, Corey Hauer, LTD Broadband’s CEO, said he was confident his company could grow fast and meet the challenge. But local competitors and broadband experts said they were concerned LTD could not deliver what it promised, especially since the company has focused primarily on wireless internet technology while it now promises fiber-optic connections.

More on LTD…

LTD uses an internet technology called fixed wireless, where homes get service from a signal placed high on a structure, such as a water tower or a silo. It can be delivered cheaper than fiber-optic cables, which require physical connections to houses.

State officials in Minnesota prefer fiber projects in their own grant programs because they say the technology is more reliable and delivers faster speeds.

Hauer said Minnesota officials have been reluctant to support fixed wireless, which he says can meet essentially every need of home customers and businesses besides unusual tasks like downloading large games.

Still, Hauer said LTD has done fiber projects and will actually be obligated to build fiber in the grant areas. He said there may be a component of fixed wireless in broadband development for the grant program, but declined to go into details, saying the FCC prohibits divulging of certain development plans for grant-winners for now.

The company will be required to offer gigabit internet, which has speeds far above what Minnesota considers to be high-speed broadband. Hauer also contends LTD can spend less to grow their coverage, giving the feds more bang for their buck.

And a view from another provider…

Joe Buttweiler, director of business development for Consolidated Telecommunications Company (CTC), which is headquartered in Brainerd, said there is “a lot of anxiousness right now about the results.”

Auction winners must submit a longer application in coming months that gives more detail on their broadband plans, finances and technology to the FCC.

Buttweiler said many in the industry don’t believe LTD can offer gigabit speeds with fixed-wireless technology, but said if they intend to use fiber, “we’d love to see the plans that they’re going to provide to the FCC.”

Buttweiler said building a “full-fiber network throughout all of Minnesota” will be an expensive task that could be hard to fulfill at the cheap price LTD has promised. “I just have a really difficult time believing they can do it for that amount of money,” he said.

Buttweiler’s CTC is a member of the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition, while LTD is not. CTC also is a competitor. The company was awarded $2.04 million from the FCC grants.

FCC announces 22 RODF winners in Minnesota – LTD Broadband is big winner

The FCC reports

The Federal Communications Commission announced today that millions of rural Americans in 49 states and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands will gain access to high-speed Internet service through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction. Auction results released today show that bidders won funding to deploy high-speed broadband to over 5.2 million unserved homes and businesses, almost 99% of the locations available in the auction. Moreover, 99.7% of these locations will be receiving broadband with speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps, with an overwhelming majority (over 85%) getting gigabit-speed broadband. CCO Holdings, LLC (Charter Communications) was assigned the most locations, just over 1.05 million. A total of 180 bidders won auction support, to be distributed over the next 10 years.

A broad range of providers successfully competed in the Phase I auction, including cable operators, electric cooperatives, incumbent telephone companies, satellite companies, and fixed wireless providers. And the FCC’s structuring of the reverse auction yielded significant savings, as competitive bidding among over 300 providers yielded an allocation of $9.2 billion in support out of the $16 billion set aside for Phase I of the auction. Importantly, the $6.8 billion in potential Phase I support that was not allocated will be rolled over into the future Phase II auction, which now can draw upon a budget of up to $11.2 billion in targeting partially-served areas (and the few unserved areas that did not receive funding through Phase I).


Here are the Minnesota totals:

  • Total dollar amount: $408,150,745.60
  • Winning bidders: 22
  • Locations assigned: 142,841

Here are the winners in MN

AMG Technology Investment Group Minnesota LLC
Amount: $ 3,736,316.00
Locations: 1,408

Arrowhead Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Amount: $ 18,462,273.10
Locations: 4,879

CenturyLink, Inc.
Amount: $ 15,646,093.10
Locations: 3,265

Consolidated Communications, Inc.
Amount: $ 11,126.00
Locations: 12

Consortium of AEG and Heron
Amount: $ 6,709,428.00
Locations: 1,150

Farmers Mutual Telephone Company
Amount: $ 759,822.00
Locations: 332

Federated Telephone Cooperative
Amount: $ 537,399.00
Locations: 248

Fond du Lac Communications Inc
Amount: $ 1,046,123.00
Locations: 728

Gardonville Cooperative Telephone
Amount: $ 63,903.00
Locations: 24

Great Plains Consortium
Amount: $ 81,700.60
Locations: 402

Halstad Telephone Company
Amount: $ 3,118,056.40
Locations: 603

LTD Broadband LLC
Amount: $ 311,877,936.40
Locations: 102,005

Midcontinent Communications
Amount: $ 4,453,803.70
Locations: 6,058

Minnesota Connections c/o Consolidated Tel Company
Amount: $ 2,040,278.70
Locations: 979

Paul Bunyan Rural Telephone Coop
Amount: $ 16,307,892.10
Locations: 5,088

Roseau Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Amount: $ 1,228,494.00
Locations: 266

Savage Communications
Amount: $ 6,090,479.10
Locations: 4,541

Space Exploration Technologies Corp.
Amount: $ 8,424,807.60
Locations: 7,529

Wikstrom Telephone Company
Amount: $ 983,637.00
Locations: 228

Windstream Services LLC,
Amount: $ 6,548,964.10
Locations: 2,899

Winnebago Cooperative Telecom
Amount: $ 20,541.70
Locations: 178

Wisper-CABO 904 Consortium
Amount: $ 1,671.00
Locations: 19