New FirstNet Cell Site Launches in Fillmore County to Support First Responders in Southeastern Minnesota

Good news in Fillmore County from AT&T

What’s the news? First responders in southeastern Minnesota are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet® network expansion currently underway by AT&T. We’ve added a new, purpose-built cell site located in Fillmore County.

This FirstNet site will provide coverage when traveling along State Highway 43 and Alpine Drive near Yucatan between Peterson and Spring Grove. It will also give first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.

Why is this important? We look at FirstNet as the most important wireless network in the country because it’s serving our first responders. And unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides dedicated mobile broadband. To ensure AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) are putting coverage and capacity where first responders need it most, the FirstNet build is being done with direct feedback from state and public safety officials. This helps ensure Minnesota first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency. Other FirstNet sites already launched in Minnesota include Bagley, Baudette, Blackduck, Cloquet, Echo Trail (northwest of Ely), Finlayson, Graceville, Grygla, Hovland, Isabella, Kellogg (Hwy 42), Kjostad Lake, Lewiston and Williams.

What are the benefits to first responders? Building upon AT&T’s current and planned investments in Minnesota, we’re actively extending the reach of FirstNet to give agencies large and small the reliable, unthrottled connectivity and modern communications tools they need. These sites were constructed using Band 14 spectrum, as well as AT&T commercial spectrum. Band 14 is nationwide, high quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet. We look at Band 14 as public safety’s VIP lane. In an emergency, this band – or lane – can be cleared and locked just for FirstNet subscribers. That means only those on the FirstNet network will be able to access Band 14 spectrum, further elevating their connected experience and emergency response. Band 14 has been added on more than 600 existing sites across Minnesota, including markets such as the Twin Cities, Duluth, Rochester, the Iron Range, St. Cloud and the Brainerd/Baxter area.

How does this help Minnesota residents? This new infrastructure will also help improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers in the area. Residents, visitors and businesses can take advantage of the AT&T spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when capacity is available.

What does 5G look like across the states? (Esp Minnesota)

OpenSignal reports

As U.S. carriers continue to hit new milestones in their 5G network rollouts, Opensignal has now conducted the most comprehensive analysis of smartphone users’ 5G mobile experience across the U.S. We included all 50 states and as many as 250 cities in this new study. While 5G was present to some extent everywhere, the quality of 5G experience varied significantly. Our 5G users on the East Coast generally had a better 5G experience, followed by users on the West Coast and in the Great Lakes region.

They looked at the time users spent with an active 5G connection across the 50 states varied greatly. Minnesota seems to rank well above (or at least slightly above) average:

They also looked at download speed where Minnesota did quite well with a mean download of 88.4 Mbps.

New FirstNet Cell Site Launches in the Kabetogama State Forest to Support First Responders in Northern MN

AT&T is making announcements of more deployments – again

What’s the news?

Northern Minnesota’s first responders are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet® network expansion currently underway by AT&T. We’ve added a new, purpose-built cell site located in the Kabetogama State Forest near Kjostad Lake about an hour north of Virginia.

This FirstNet site will provide coverage when traveling along Orr Buyck Road and Crane Lake Road, located in the remote wilderness of northern Minnesota. It will also give first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.

This is the second FirstNet site to launch in this part of northern Minnesota this summer. In May, we added a new, purpose-built cell site located on the Echo Trail northwest of Ely near Meander Lake and Lake Jeannette State Forest – one of the first primarily powered by solar in the Midwest region. This site along the Echo Trail has already provided coverage to first responders who battled the Bezhik wildfire just a few miles south of the tower.

Why is this important?

We look at FirstNet as the most important wireless network in the country because it’s serving our first responders. And unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides dedicated mobile broadband. To ensure AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) are putting coverage and capacity where first responders need it most, the FirstNet build is being done with direct feedback from state and public safety officials. This helps ensure Minnesota first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency. Other FirstNet sites already launched in Minnesota include Bagley, Blackduck, Cloquet, Echo Trail (northwest of Ely), Finlayson, Graceville, Grygla, Hovland, Isabella, Kellogg (Hwy 42), Lewiston, and Williams.

Can broadband help with these wild fires? Turns out yes!

I am in St Paul and I can tell you the air is thick and air quality seems poor. My colleagues up North say it’s worse there (between storms!). So this story from Urgent Communications seems particularly apt today…

Members of the Verizon Response Team (VRT) are using a variety of solutions to deliver broadband communications to public-safety agencies battling wildfires throughout the U.S.—at no additional cost—as part of the carrier’s Verizon Frontline offering, according to a Verizon official.

Cory Davis, director of Verizon Response and public-safety operations, said the VRT has been “super busy,” responding to a total of 74 named wildfires already in what is proving to be a very active wildfire season.

“We’ve had 88 deployments across the United States, from California, Oregon, Arizona, Montana, all the way to Minnesota,” Davis said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “There’s a huge fire—the Delta Lake fire—that’s burning right now along the Canadian border. We sent a team up there to help support the operations center, working really closely with the COMLs up there.”

Apparently some states are used to this, Minnesota is listed as a newer or less frequent fire place…

“This is the first time my East team went to a large forest fire in that part of the country,” Davis said. “Places like Canada and Minnesota just generally don’t have large forest fires that often like the West does. But as things are getting warmer and the climate is changing, we’re seeing that fires are popping up everywhere—I had my team out in North Carolina at a fire about a month ago.

The goal is bringing the network closer to the emergency workers…

Firefighters often work to control and extinguish wildfires in locations where terrestrial wireless coverage is not available, so many of the VRT solutions utilize geosynchronous (GEO) satellite communications with “public-safety-grade priority” to provide backhaul, according to Davis.

“We can get an average of 30 mbps downlink and 10 mbps uplink,” he said. “Obviously, there will be bursts with more [data throughput] being available.

“The biggest thing is dealing with latency when you use satellite backhaul—anywhere between 600 and 800 milliseconds—but first responders can do a lot with 30 mbps.”

Davis said that Verizon is closely monitoring developments in the low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite arena and will consider leveraging that technology in the future. This assessment process include testing of LEO-based offerings from companies like Lynk and AST SpaceMobile, which have announced satellite LTE services that will connect directly to a smartphone, as opposed to requiring the user to deploy a satellite dish or a specialized device, he said.

In addition to traditional deployable communications solutions—from those on vehicles to offerings housed in Pelican cases that can be carried by hand to a location—VRTs are using satellite pico cells on trailers (SPOTs) to deliver broadband in a focused area to help support first-responder communications.

“Essentially, we can provide not only a 4G LTE bubble but also a Wi-Fi bubble for—and it depends on the environment—about 6,000 to 7,000 square feet. So, it’s really good for base camps,” Davis said.

“Since it is enclosed, we also have the capability to have it be like a mini operational command-center—you can fit two or three good-sized adults in there. So, you can turn it into not only an asset that deploys coverage and capacity, but it can also work as kind of a makeshift operations center for a very, very small group.”

Verizon cannot use the high-power user equipment (HPUE) that is only permitted on the 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum licensed for FirstNet, but VRTs do have some solutions that can be deployed when extra range is needed, Davis said.

AT&T deploying 5G in areas around Thief River Falls, Marshall and North Shore MN

AT&T has been busy! They have announced 5G deployment in three areas in Minnesota. I’m going to merge that announcement into one:

  1. What’s the news in Thief River Falls? AT&T’s* 5G network – the most reliable 5G network – is now live for consumers and businesses in the Thief River Falls area.
    With this deployment, consumers and businesses in Thief River Falls, Newfolden, Hallock and Roseau with a 5G-capable device and qualifying plan will now have access to AT&T’s 5G service delivered using low-band spectrum.
  2. What’s the news in North Shore and North Country areas? AT&T’s* 5G network – the most reliable 5G network – is now live for consumers and businesses in the North Shore and North Country areas.
    With this deployment, consumers and businesses in Two Harbors, Silver Creek, Silver Bay, Hovland and Ely with a 5G-capable device and qualifying plan will now have access to AT&T’s 5G service delivered using low-band spectrum.
  3. What’s the news in Marshall and Madison? AT&T’s* 5G network – the most reliable 5G network – is now live for consumers and businesses in the Marshall and Madison areas.
    With this deployment, consumers and businesses in Marshall, Madison and Tracy with a 5G-capable device and qualifying plan will now have access to AT&T’s 5G service delivered using low-band spectrum.

Why is this important? We know how important it is for our customers to stay connected. AT&T 5G offers nationwide connectivity on its low-band sub-6 spectrum, which provides broadband coverage that will ultimately offer a better wireless experience with greater capacity and faster response times for businesses and consumers. 2Committed to our Networks: From 2018-2020, AT&T invested more than $300 million in our wireless network in Minnesota. In 2020, we made nearly 2,000 network enhancements across the state, including more than 25 new cell sites, additional network capacity, network upgrades and small cells.

These investments boost reliability, coverage, speed and overall performance for residents and their businesses.

What people are saying:

“At a time when technology is proving to be even more essential for communications, AT&T customers can rest assured that our company is continuing to invest in our network and new technologies to make connection easier. We consistently work to provide better coverage for Minnesota’s communities. And we’re investing in our wireless network in Thief River Falls, northwestern Minnesota and across the state to accomplish that,” said Paul Weirtz, state president, AT&T Minnesota.

Where can I find more information?

Go here to learn more about how AT&T is supporting Minnesota. Learn more about AT&T’s 5G network at att.com/5gforyou.

Mankato getting more fiber with Consolidated and faster downloads with Spectrum

KEYC News Mankato reports news from Spectrum…

Good news for internet users in our area, two of the area’s main broadband providers are both upping internet speeds for its customers.

Spectrum increases its download speeds from 100 to 200 megabits in Mankato and surrounding areas.

And news from Consolidated…

In an effort to close the local digital divide, Consolidated Communications also brings faster speeds to its customers through its fiber rollout.

Upgrading about 5000 homes in North Mankato and Mankato to fiber optic cable from its traditional copper wire cable.

“This will enable high-speed gigabit symmetrical speeds to these customers homes and small businesses. We are seeing a drastic increase in the demand for bandwidth across the country, especially here in Southern Minnesota where we call home, Mankato is such a special we are excited to bring these faster speeds to our customers,” said Consolidated Communications Senior Director of Operations, Ryan Walker.

The rollout is part of Consolidated’s plan to upgrade more than 70% of its service to fiber optics by 2025.

AT&T Invests More than $300 Million Over Three-Year Period to Connect Local Customers in Minnesota

The latest news from AT&T…

AT&T* is proud to connect customers across the country by continuing to grow the nation’s best network 1. From 2018-2020, we expanded coverage and improved connectivity in more communities by investing more than $300 million in our wireless and wireline networks in Minnesota, including nearly $150 million in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

AT&T’s commitment to communities across the country continues and spans all layers of our network—from fiber to 5G to FirstNet®. These investments are essential to connecting our customers with their family, friends and colleagues by increasing the network’s speed, reliability, coverage and overall performance.

AT&T further improved critical communications for Minnesota’s first responders and improved public safety with FirstNet® – America’s public safety network. We also recently announced that AT&T will invest $2 billion over the next 3 years to help address the digital divide nationwide.

“From connecting family and loved ones to helping first responders during a crisis, AT&T is committed to investing in Minnesota to build state-of-the-art infrastructure that will keep people connected,” said AT&T Minnesota President Paul Weirtz. “By continuing to improve our network at the state and local levels, we are helping businesses grow in Minnesota and helping to ensure that our customers and communities stay connected throughout the country.”

More details about our wireless coverage in Minnesota, and anywhere in the U.S., can be found on the AT&T Coverage Viewer. For updates on the AT&T wireless network, please visit the AT&T network news page.

Bringing fast, reliable, secure AT&T 5G to more Americans

AT&T is unlocking the power of 5G for consumers, businesses and first responders through both AT&T 5G and AT&T 5G+:

 

  • AT&T 5G, delivered over sub-6 spectrum sets us up to offer a better wireless experience with greater capacity to enable faster responses on capable devices. AT&T offers fast, reliable and secure 5G to 240 million people in 14,000 cities and towns nationwide, including Bemidji, Brainerd, Duluth, Mankato, Minneapolis, Rochester, St. Cloud, St. Paul, Virginia and Worthington in Minnesota.
  • AT&T 5G+ is our name for 5G delivered over a millimeter wave spectrum. Its super-fast speeds make it ideal for high-traffic areas and places like stadiums, arenas, school campuses, hospitals and will help unlock unprecedented experiences in iconic destinations and key venues. AT&T 5G+ is currently available in parts of 38 cities and more than 20 venues across the country like U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

To learn more about AT&T 5G, visit our AT&T 5G site.

FirstNet: Dedicated to America’s First Responders

We are committed to improving public safety infrastructure.  As a part of that commitment, we have invested and built FirstNet in public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) – an independent agency within the federal government. FirstNet is the only nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform dedicated to and purpose-built for America’s first responders and the extended public safety community.

  • Expanding to serve: FirstNet focuses on where first responders need connectivity. We’ve moved quickly to deliver more coverage, boost capacity and drive new capabilities for first responders. Using all AT&T LTE commercial spectrum as well as high-quality Band 14 spectrum, FirstNet covers 71 million square miles nationwide. And we’re actively extending the reach of FirstNet in Minnesota to give agencies large and small the reliable, unthrottled connectivity and modern communications tools they require.
  • First responder-centric 5G: FirstNet subscribers in parts of 38 cities and more than 20 venues now have access to AT&T 5G+. Our approach to 5G for public safety is unlike anything else. We’ve upgraded the dedicated FirstNet network core to enable 5G connectivity that is being built to intuitively optimize the experience for America’s first responders. First responders maintain voice communications with always-on priority and preemption on LTE, while the FirstNet network determines the best route for data traffic with compatible devices, whether that’s 5G+ or LTE spectrum.

The FirstNet network is providing Minnesota public safety with truly dedicated coverage and capacity when they need. These advanced capabilities enable FirstNet to help fire, EMS, and law enforcement personnel save lives and protect their communities.

Doug Dawson predictions in upload broadband discussion

Doug Dawson recently wrote about the “Looming Battle Over Upload Speeds” as a precursor to doling out funds to deploy broadband. Even I can find discussion about broadband speed tedious … until you put a dollar sign in front of it, then it’s not just academic and Doug does a nice job queueing up the discussion…

By next week we’re going to see the opening shots in the battle for setting an official definition of upload broadband speeds. You might expect that this is a topic that would be debated at the FCC, but this battle is coming as a result of questions asked by the U.S. Department of Treasury as part of defining how to use the grant monies from the American Rescue Plan Act. Treasury has oddly been put in charge of deciding how to use $10 billion of direct broadband grants and some portion of the gigantic $350 billion in funding that is going directly to counties, cities, and towns across the country.

Treasury asked for comments through a series of questions about the broadband speeds of technologies that should be supported with the grant funding. The questions ask for a discussion of the pros and cons of requiring that grant dollars are used to built technologies that can achieve speeds of 100/20 Mbps versus 100/100 Mbps.

Treasury is not likely to see many comments on the requirement that grant deployments must meet 100 Mbps download speeds. All of the major broadband technologies will claim the ability to meet that speed – be that fiber, cable company hybrid-fiber networks, fixed wireless provided by WISPs, or low-orbit satellites. The only industry segment that might take exception to a 100 Mbps download requirement is fixed cellular broadband which can only meet that kind of speed for a short distance from a tower.

And putting jerseys on the respective teams…

A recent blog on the WISPA website argues that argues for upload speeds of 5 Mbps to 10 Mbps. The blog argues that it costs more to build 100/100 Mbps networks (as a way to remind that fixed wireless costs a lot less than fiber).

We know the cable industry is going to come out hard against any definition up upload speed greater than 20 Mbps – since that’s what most cable networks are delivering. In a show of solidarity with the rest of the cable industry, Altice recently announced that it will lower current upload speeds of 35 – 50 Mbps down to 5 – 10 Mbps. This is clearly being done to allow the cable industry to have a united front to argue against faster upload speeds. This act is one of most bizarre reactions that I’ve ever seen from an ISP to potential regulation and a direct poke in the eye to Altice customers.

Back in March, we saw Joan Marsh, the AT&T Executive VP argue that 21st-century broadband doesn’t need upload speeds greater than 10 Mbps. This was an argument that clearly was clearly meant to support using grant funds for rural fixed cellular technology. It’s an odd position to take for the second largest fiber provider in the country.

New FirstNet Cell Site Primarily Powered by Solar Launches on Echo Trail to Support First Responders in Northern Minnesota

Big news in Ely from AT&T…

What’s the news? Northern Minnesota’s first responders are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet® network expansion currently underway by AT&T. We’ve added a new, purpose-built cell site located on the Echo Trail northwest of Ely near Meander Lake and Lake Jeanette State Forest – one of the first primarily powered by solar in the Midwest region.

This FirstNet site will provide coverage when traveling along the Echo Trail, located in the remote wilderness of northeastern Minnesota. It will also give first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.

This site, which launched May 18, has already provided coverage to first responders who battled the Bezhik Fire – a wildfire that began May 17 near Bezhik Lake, spread north to Moose Loop Road, and burned 782 acres just a few miles south of the new tower.

Why is this important? We look at FirstNet as the most important wireless network in the country because it’s serving our first responders. And unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides dedicated mobile broadband. To ensure AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) are putting coverage and capacity where first responders need it most, the FirstNet build is being done with direct feedback from state and public safety officials. This helps ensure Minnesota first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency. Other FirstNet sites already launched in Minnesota communities include Bagley, Blackduck, Cloquet, Finlayson, Graceville, Grygla, Hovland, Isabella, Lewiston and Williams.

What are the benefits to first responders? Building upon AT&T’s current and planned investments in Minnesota, we’re actively extending the reach of FirstNet to give agencies large and small the reliable, unthrottled connectivity and modern communications tools they need. These sites were constructed using Band 14 spectrum, as well as AT&T commercial spectrum. Band 14 is nationwide, high quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet. We look at Band 14 as public safety’s VIP lane. In an emergency, this band – or lane – can be cleared and locked just for FirstNet subscribers. That means only those on the FirstNet network will be able to access Band 14 spectrum, further elevating their connected experience and emergency response. Band 14 has been added on more than 600 existing sites across Minnesota, including markets such as the Twin Cities, Duluth, Rochester, the Iron Range, St. Cloud and the Brainerd/Baxter area.

How does this help Minnesota residents? This new infrastructure will also help improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers in the area. Residents, visitors and businesses can take advantage of the AT&T spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when capacity is available.

What is FirstNet? FirstNet is the only nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform dedicated to and purpose-built for America’s first responders and the extended public safety community. Shaped by the vision of Congress and the first responder community following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, FirstNet stands above commercial offerings. It is built with AT&T in public-private partnership with the FirstNet Authority – an independent agency within the federal government. The FirstNet network is providing first responders with truly dedicated coverage and capacity when they need it, unique benefits like always-on priority and preemption, and high-quality Band 14 spectrum. These advanced capabilities enable FirstNet to help fire, EMS, and law enforcement personnel save lives and protect their communities.

What people are saying:

Sheriff Ross Litman

Sheriff, St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office

“For our first responders battling the Bezhik Fire, this new FirstNet tower provided critical wireless coverage necessary for communication in a very remote area where we previously had poor to no coverage. FirstNet is helping give public safety the connectivity they need to communicate and coordinate emergency response efforts, especially in remote wilderness areas of St. Louis County.”

Paul Weirtz 

President, AT&T Minnesota

“Minnesota’s first responders deserve reliable coverage across the state to help them effectively and efficiently address incidents. And with FirstNet, that’s exactly what they’re getting. We’re pleased this new site could provide critical wireless coverage for the courageous fire fighters and first responders who battled and contained the Bezhik Fire near the Echo Trail. We have a responsibility unlike any other network provider, and couldn’t be more pleased to support the public safety mission by bringing first responders – and residents – greater access to the connectivity they need.”

Edward Parkinson

CEO, FirstNet Authority

“FirstNet is a dedicated broadband platform for public safety, by public safety. We worked hand-in-hand with the Minnesota public safety community to understand their needs for the network. And this new site is a prime example of how that input and feedback is becoming reality. We look forward to supporting Minnesota’s first responders’ use of FirstNet to help them save lives and protect our communities.”

Where can I find more information? Go here to learn more about how AT&T is supporting Minnesota. For more about the value FirstNet is bringing to public safety, check out FirstNet.com. And go here for more FirstNet news.

MVTV covering campgrounds in Kandiyohi and Redwood Counties

I just got a campground hotspot update from MVTV Wireless. Funny enough I got it while on a campground in Northern Minnesota, which makes me appreciate the work even more…

We have recently added Internet Hotspot Service at two more campgrounds within our network. Diamond Lake County Park in Kandiyohi County and Sailors & Soldiers Memorial Campground in Redwood County. Right now MVTV is proudly serving 23 campgrounds throughout our network with Hotspot Service. Each year more and more people are working from their campers and spending more time camping. It’s also a great way to keep the family entertained, especially when it’s raining. MVTV Wireless Hotspot service offers low priced plans with unlimited data. Hotspot Services make it more convenient than ever to stay connected at parks and campgrounds.

MN Broadband Task Force Mtg May 2021 Notes: Fixed Wireless & State Demographer

Today the Task Force heard from a panel of Fixed Wireless providers. They spoke about advanced in wireless technologies and the range of customers they have. The also heard from Susan Brower, State Demographer. We learned that the state is growing but at a slower rate and that growth is uneven. There’s more growth in urban areas.

Here’s the whole lineup including some of Susan’s slides:

10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from April 5, 2021 Meeting

10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Update on 2021 MN Legislation Deven Bowdry, DEED

Session ended May 17 with no action. But Senate, House and Gov agreed on $70 million over biennium for broadband – not sure if it’s State of Federal funding yet. Funding will not be included in Sen Westrom’s Ag bill. They passed a policy-only bill with nothing related to broadband. It will likely become an infrastructure bill. Spreadsheets expected May 28; June 4 bill language is due; Special session is June 14 – with all new bill numbers.

10:15 a.m. – 11:10 a.m. Fixed Wireless Panel – Luke Johnson, Broadband Operations Manager, Meeker Cooperative Light & Power – VIBRANT Broadband Terry Nelson GM/VP, Woodstock Communications Mary Lodin, CEO/Partner and Jay Mankie, CTO/Partner, Genesis Wireless, Tim Johnson, Operations Manager, MVTV Wireless

Questions:

Can fixed wireless provide symmetrical services?
Only at lower speeds 10/10, 20/20 even 50/50 but not up to 100/100

How much is fixed wireless?
$39.95/month to 99.95 – we really need to average $50 per customers to remain sustainable.
We have 300-400 people who only use email; we have others that seem to stream constantly.
Folks can get 25 Mbps for $35/month.
Woodstock has a service that starts at $24.95/month. It’s a legacy from a Moose Lake municipal service and it’s mostly seniors who only email. No streaming.
If we want symmetrical speeds we have to go with fiber.
If someone wants a light package we can serve northern areas but the trees make it difficult. They try to map accordingly.
Costs can be high for end users – and sometimes we need to go to them to help pay for those costs and people do it – especially with fiber? Do people really need FTTH or do the hybrid solutions work.
It might be helpful to have a “bank” of funds to help offset some of these installation costs for folks who need it.

How has COVID impacted demand?
Many people now know they can work from home and many of them will continue working from home. That might not be the case with students.
Evening hours are the busiest for most providers. They built the network for those nighttime peaks; so we were ready for the shift to day time use. For most, they got new customers and upgraded existing customers.
Learned that we need to deploy quicker in rural areas. They were installing 7 days a week. They’re still seeing growth and people are not getting the lower packages; the buy at higher levels.
Sometimes you can get around obstacles.

How can we help you?
What about a program that helps upgrade existing customers? Rather than introduce a faster competitor, but look at who is the incumbents and how can the State help make them faster. Especially in areas where you might have 4 customers per square mile. The customer is there – we just need to upgrade.
Need better education. Wireless had gotten a bad rap – and there are good ways and bad ways to build it. The new technology is a very good solution.

How many residents actually need a Gig – we have to quick chasing these numbers. Getting to 100/100 with today’s technology is difficult but providers feel they can get there in the future. Not sure about higher speeds.

Cost to build a tower:
In Meeker $120,000
300 ft tower $100-175,000
And there’s a 50 percent increase in steel costs

How do you deal with businesses in range but out of line of sight?
We work with them – taking down trees or extending existing towers.

11:10 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Break

11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Minnesota State Demographer Susan Brower

Minnesota had growth but it has slowed, as has the US growth. Our population is getting older. (More people living longer than babies born.) Most growth is in 7-metro counties and up the Highway 94 core. IN rural areas – there’s not as much growth but these areas are not quickly emptying out. It’s more of a stability that most people think.

In rural areas – we are seeing population declines, albeit modest decline. It has picked up in some areas in the last decade. Entirely urban areas are growing.

12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, June Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

What are we going to do with RDOF? Can we get the legislature to look at the problem of RDOF closing the door on so many communities that night have qualified for Border to Border grants and are now left in the lurch.

New FirstNet Cell Site Launches in Lewiston to Support First Responders

Here’s the latest from AT&T on FirstNet in Lewiston…

What’s the news? Lewiston’s first responders are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet network expansion currently underway by AT&T. We’ve added a new, purpose-built cell site located in Lewiston near the area of Whistle Pass Drive and Rolling Hills Road. This site will provide coverage when traveling along Highway 14 and County Roads 20 and 25 in the Lewiston area. It will also give first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.
Why is this important? We look at FirstNet as the most important wireless network in the country because it’s serving our first responders. And unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides real, dedicated mobile broadband. To ensure AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) are putting coverage and capacity where first responders need it
most, the FirstNet build is being done with direct feedback from state and public safety officials. This helps ensure Minnesota first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency. New FirstNet cell sites in Cloquet and Hovland in
northern Minnesota were also announced today. Other FirstNet sites already launched in Minnesota communities include Bagley, Blackduck, Graceville, Grygla, Isabella, Finlayson, and Williams.
What are the benefits to first responders? Building upon AT&T’s current and planned investments in Minnesota, we’re actively extending the reach of FirstNet to give agencies large and small the reliable, unthrottled connectivity and modern communications tools they need.
These sites were constructed using Band 14 spectrum, as well as AT&T commercial spectrum.
Band 14 is nationwide, high quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet. We look at Band 14 as public safety’s VIP lane. In an emergency, this band – or lane –can be cleared and locked just for FirstNet subscribers. That means only those on the FirstNet
network will be able to access Band 14 spectrum, further elevating their connected experience and emergency response. Band 14 has been added on more than 450 existing sites across Minnesota, including markets such as the Twin Cities, Duluth, Rochester, the Iron Range, St.
Cloud and the Brainerd/Baxter area.

How does this help Lewiston residents? This new infrastructure will also help improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers in the Lewiston area. Residents, visitors and businesses can take advantage of the AT&T spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when additional capacity is available.

EVENT May 24: MN Broadband Task Force Mtg (featuring Fixed Wireless & MN State Demographer)

The MN Broadband Task Force will be Monday (May 24) from 10am to 12:30pm. I will plan to attend and stream via Facebook. There is always room for public comments if you are able to join. Here’s the agenda…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
May 24, 2021
10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Microsoft Teams meeting – Click here to join the meeting
Or call in (audio only) +1 763-317-4323,,974606064#   United States, Plymouth
Phone Conference ID: 974 606 064#
Find a local number | Reset PIN

  • 10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from April 5, 2021 Meeting
  • 10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Update on 2021 MN Legislation
    Deven Bowdry, DEED
  • 10:15 a.m. – 11:10 a.m. Fixed Wireless Panel
    Luke Johnson, Broadband Operations Manager, Meeker Cooperative Light & Power – VIBRANT Broadband
    Terry Nelson GM/VP, Woodstock Communications
    Mary Lodin, CEO/Partner and Jay Mankie, CTO/Partner, Genesis Wireless
    Tim Johnson, Operations Manager, MVTV Wireless
  • 11:10 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Break
  • 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Minnesota State Demographer Susan Brower
  • 12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, June Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

New FirstNet Cell Sites Launch in Northeastern Minnesota to Support First Responders

Here’s the latest from AT&T on FirstNet in Northeastern MN (near Cloquet and Hovland)…

What’s the news? First responders in northeastern Minnesota are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet® network expansion currently underway by AT&T*. We’ve added new, purpose-built cell sites located near Cloquet on County Road 3 and in Hovland along the North Shore between Grand Marais and Grand Portage. These sites will
give first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.
Why is this important? We look at FirstNet as the most important wireless network in the country because it’s serving our first responders. And unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides real, dedicated mobile broadband. To ensure AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) are putting coverage and capacity where first responders need it
most, the FirstNet build is being done with direct feedback from state and public safety officials. This helps ensure Minnesota first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency. A new FirstNet cell site near Lewiston in southeastern Minnesota was also announced today. Other FirstNet sites already launched in Minnesota communities include Bagley, Blackduck, Graceville, Grygla, Isabella, Finlayson, and Williams.
What are the benefits to first responders? Building upon AT&T’s current and planned investments in Minnesota, we’re actively extending the reach of FirstNet to give agencies large and small the reliable, unthrottled connectivity and modern communications tools they need.
These sites were constructed using Band 14 spectrum, as well as AT&T commercial spectrum.
Band 14 is nationwide, high quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet. We look at Band 14 as public safety’s VIP lane. In an emergency, this band – or lane –can be cleared and locked just for FirstNet subscribers. That means only those on the FirstNet
network will be able to access Band 14 spectrum, further elevating their connected experience
and emergency response. Band 14 has been added on more than 450 existing sites across Minnesota, including markets such as the Twin Cities, Duluth, Rochester, the Iron Range, St. Cloud and the Brainerd/Baxter area.

How does this help northeastern Minnesota residents? This new infrastructure will also help
improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers in northeastern Minnesota near Cloquet and near Hovland along the North Shore. Residents, visitors and businesses can take advantage of the AT&T spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when capacity is available.

Scott County uses CARES funding for fixed wireless broadband

Southwest News Media reports on Scott County using CARES funding to expand broadband to rural areas. Unfortunately, they don’t report actual (or advertised) speeds, although the provider’s site claims “speeds up to 30 times as fast as your current connection.” Here’s where Scott County stood a year ago…

Though there are several internet providers that serve Scott County, as of 2020 up to 40% of parts of the rural areas of the county did not have access to adequate broadband services, according to Minnesota’s Office of Broadband Development.

The county recognized the existence of a gap and began working on a pilot program to help internet reach underserved areas using its existing regional fiber network.

They looked to use CARES funding to help…

When the COVID-19 pandemic began last March, Scott County made the move to accelerate the program by entering into a private-public partnership with Netwave Broadband, a fixed-wireless company that now brings internet service options to the county.

To pay for the project, the county used a portion of its CARES funding along with contributions from the city of Jordan and Sand Creek and St. Lawrence Townships.

Now the county is better served…

Through the public-private partnership, Netwave is offering a 25% discounted rate for monthly fees and installation.

Anyone who signs up during the Governor’s Emergency Peacetime Emergency is guaranteed a rate of $149 installation and a monthly cost of $49 per month or $59 per month if a router is needed.

Netwave has also lifted internet speed caps for customers during the peacetime emergency.

”Whatever your equipment is capable of getting is what you will get,” Herman said. “We don’t throttle anything.”

Through the recent deployment of Netwave Broadband, approximately 95% of the rural parts of Scott County now have access to broadband internet services, Mulcrone said.

“It shocks me how fast our speed is with Netwave,” Koepp said.

Herman said Netwave is working toward being able to cover the final 5%.