Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe awarded $11 million from NTIA for broadband

NTIA reports…

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced today it has awarded two grants totaling more than $25.7 million to two Tribal nations – The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota and the Pueblo of Acoma in New Mexico– as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP).

With funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, these new grants bring the total of the program to over $1.75 billion awarded to 135 Tribal entities.

More info on the funding for the Mille Lacs Band…

Project Type: Broadband Infrastructure Deployment
Fund Amount: $11,407,585.00
This Broadband Infrastructure Deployment project proposes to install fiber to directly connect 356 unserved Native American households, 7 unserved Native American businesses, and 10 unserved community anchor institutions with service ranging from 250/250 Mbps to 1000/1000 Mbps.

EVENT April 11: Paul Bunyan Communications and Red Lake Nation to hold Affordable Connectivity Program Sign Up Day in Ponemah

I’m sharing the info from Paul Bunyan for the folks near Ponemah but also to spread the word about the Affordable Connectivity Program to everyone who could benefit from it…

Paul Bunyan Communications and the Red Lake Nation are holding a sign-up day for the Affordable Connectivity Program on Tuesday, April 11 from Noon-2:30 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club in Ponemah.

The Affordable Connectivity Program will help to lower the cost of broadband service for eligible households struggling to afford internet service and provides a discount of up to a $30 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for qualifying households on qualifying Tribal lands.

A household is eligible if one member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:

  • Has an income that is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines;
  • Participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, SSI, WIC, or Lifeline;
  • Participates in one of several Tribal specific programs, such as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal Head Start (only households meeting the relevant income qualifying standard) Tribal TANF, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations;
  • Is approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision;
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year; or
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband provider’s existing low-income program.

Eligible households can enroll at the sign-up event, through a participating broadband provider, or by going to to submit an online application or print a mail-in application and contacting their preferred participating broadband provider and selecting a plan.  Additional information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit is available at, or by calling 877-384-2575 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET any day of the week.


EVENT March 27: MN Broadband Task Force final meeting

The last meeting of this iteration of the MN Broadband Task Force happens tomorrow…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

Monday, March 27, 2023

10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.


10 River Park Plaza

St. Paul, MN  55107

use main entrance, plenty of free parking


or Virtually via Teams

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10:00 a.m. – 10:05 a.m.  Welcome, Task Force Introductions, and Approval of Minutes from February 22 meeting – Teddy Bekele, Chair, Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

10:05 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Welcome from Comcast –  Kalyn Hove, Regional Senior Vice President, Midwest Region

10:15 a.m. – 10:20 a.m. Legislative Update – Deven Bowdry, Government Relations Coordinator for DEED

10:20 a.m. – 10:40 a.m. Office of Broadband Development Update – Bree Maki, Executive Director

10:40 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. NTIA update – Tom Karst, Federal Program Officer, Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth

11:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.  Break

11:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. National Skills Coalition Digital Equity Presentation – Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, Senior Fellow, National Skills Coalition

11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. “Around the Table -Thoughts of Wisdom” from the outgoing Task Force members

12:15 p.m. – 12:20 p.m.  Public Comment, Other Business, Wrap-up

12:20 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.  Lunch

OPPORTUNITY: Planner Senior State – Community Engagement and Special Project Coordinator

The Office of Broadband Development is hiring…

Working Title: Community Engagement and Special Project Coordinator
Job Class: Planner Senior State
Agency: Employment and Economic Development Department
• Job ID: 64231
• Location: St. Paul
• Full/Part Time: Full-Time
• Regular/Temporary: Unlimited
• Who May Apply: This vacancy is open for bids and for all qualified job seekers simultaneously. Bidders will
be considered through 03/31/2023.
• Date Posted: 03/25/2023
• Closing Date: 04/07/2023
• Hiring Agency/Seniority Unit: Employ & Econ Development Dept / Employ & Economic Dev-MAPE
• Division/Unit: Business & Community Dev / 0359 Broadband Development
• Work Shift/Work Hours: Day Shift
• Days of Work: Monday – Friday
• Travel Required: Yes – 20% regional travel and occasional overnight travel
• Salary Range: $25.25 – $37.02 / hourly; $52,722 – $77,297 / annually
• Classified Status: Classified
• Bargaining Unit/Union: 214 – MN Assoc of Professional Empl/MAPE
• FLSA Status: Exempt – Professional
• Telework Eligible: Yes – This position may be eligible to telework up to four (4) days per week
• Designated in Connect 700 Program for Applicants with Disabilities: Yes
Make a difference in the lives of Minnesotans.
The work you’ll do is more than just a job. Join the talented, engaged and inclusive workforce dedicated to creating a
better Minnesota.
Job Summary
Along with access to reliable high speed broadband infrastructure, OBD seeks to ensure every Minnesotan can afford
broadband service and has a device and the digital skills needed to use the internet and engage in online digital
work, education, and health monitoring. The Community Engagement and Special Project Coordinator will report
directly to the Executive Director and support Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program and the
Digital Equity Program planning statewide. The purpose of this position is to manage the database management,
data entry, file preparation and drafting of documents for the two plans. This position will also provide coordination to
the Office of Broadband in community engagement, participate in community events and educational presentations,
promotion, and coordination of events with members of the OBD team.
Programs administered include the following:
1. Coordinating the planning of the Digital Equity and Broadband Equity, Access and Development Programs
2. Supporting and maximizing Minnesota entities participation in state and federally-funded broadband
infrastructure and digital equity programs
3. Digital skills, broadband adoption and use programs
4. Community engagement and involvement in the planning process
5. Promotion and education
This posting may be used to fill multiple positions.

Learn more.

OPPORTUNITY: Governor’s Task Force on Broadband seeking member applications

I’ve posted about this before – but the deadline (April 3) is coming up and it seems like there’s a push to get the word out, which means they are waiting to hear from you!

Are you interested in serving with a group to influence broadband policy in Minnesota? Do you have time to volunteer to serve on a Task Force that will make recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature on digital inclusion and broadband availability across the state? Do you know someone who may be a strong advocate and representative on this topic?  The Walz/Flanagan Administration will be making appointments to the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband soon!


The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband was created under Executive Order 19-10 and is a multi-stakeholder body created to advise the executive and legislative branches on broadband policy, including strategies for successfully achieving the state broadband goals, comprehensive assessment of digital inclusion issues and gaps, and strategies for unlocking the benefits of universal access to broadband for all communities in Minnesota. And, the Task Force consists of fifteen members who are appointed by the Governor and have experience or interest in broadband matters. The members must represent a balance of broadband interests, including: residential and business consumers, local governments, libraries, K-12 and higher education institutions, tribal interests, healthcare, broadband providers, economic development, agriculture, rural development, workforce development, and labor interests. The Task Force meets monthly and submits an annual report no later than December 31 each year.  This appointment is through the rest of the current Governor’s Term.  To apply, see the instructions below.

To learn more or read the current Task Force’s report, please visit Broadband Task Force / Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (

For questions, contact the Office of Broadband Development at the MN Dept. of Employment and Economic Development at or by calling 651-259-7610.

Applications should be submitted no later than Monday, April 3, 2023 to receive full consideration.




Governor’s Task Force On Broadband

Vacancies: 15 Seats — Member


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

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

Applicants are encouraged to use the online application as the Appointing Authority will have access to your information as soon as it is submitted.

Applications submitted via downloadable application may experience some delay in reaching the Appointing Authority.
Paper applications may be submitted by email to:

or by mail or in person to:

Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State
180 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
St Paul, MN 55155-1299

In accordance with the Minnesota Open Appointments Law, the Secretary of State acts as an administrator in publishing vacancies, receiving applications and recording appointments. Applications will be reviewed and appointments made by the appointing authorities; questions about specific vacancies and appointments should be directed to the appointing authority. Applications are kept on file for a one-year period.


MN Farmers Union members still list broadband as a top priority

Faribault Daily News reports

listening session hosted Saturday by the Minnesota Farmers Union gave farmers the opportunity to share their perspectives with those writing policy affecting farmers.

Among the top concerns of the rural Minnesotan farmers were health care, accessible internet, sourcing food locally and incentivizing sustainable practices.

Broadband was mentioned…

A few attendees brought up internet access, which they said was lacking for rural Minnesotans. Pursell said her proposed bill (HF2313) would help with rural internet access by allocating $276 million to the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program over the next two years.

Surveys show broadband is mostly working and mostly important

Telecompetitor reports

Two things are clear in an internet satisfaction report commissioned by Amdocs and conducted by researchers at Dynata: Broadband generally is working well and many see it as a necessity.

The survey found that 89% of respondents said they have reliable access and that the number of homes with more than nine connected devices has almost doubled since 2021. Only 13% of homes with annual incomes of less than $50,000 per year – which the graphic refers to as “low-income” —have more than nine connected devices. Forty-one percent of households with incomes of more than $150,000 have more than nine.

The survey found that almost half—49%–of consumers said that they are happy with their home Internet, while occasionally having issues. Forty percent said they never have an issue and 11% said they struggle with connectivity.

NTIA wants broadband permitting and continued low cost options from States

Statescoop reports

The NTIA is working with other federal agencies, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, to streamline permit approval processes, but the agency is concerned that permitting at the state level could potentially be a “bigger issue,” Davidson said.

When states submit plans to the NTIA for how they plan to distribute their BEAD allocations, they will be required to include the steps they will take to ease their permitting processes, he said.

“It’s one of the homework assignments [that states will have to complete], and we’re going to take it pretty seriously,” he said.

As a steward for billions of dollars in federal funding to move the needle on broadband access and adoption, the NTIA “needs all hands on deck to make this work,” Davidson said.

He said the NTIA also wants to ensure that the Affordable Connectivity Program — a Federal Communications Commission program that subsidizes internet bills for low-income households — “continues to thrive.”

OPPORTUNITY: Community Connect Grant Program Now Open

From the Office of Broadband Development…

Community Connect Grant Program Now Open – Community Connect Notice of Funding Opportunity Published

A new funding window has opened for the Community Connect Grant Program. The Community Connect Program provides financial assistance in the form of grants to eligible applicants that will provide, on a “community-oriented connectivity” basis, broadband service that fosters economic growth and delivers enhanced educational, health care, and public safety benefits.

The USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) is hosting two webinars to provide information about the Community Connect Program and will cover the recently published Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).

This webinar will include:

  • A brief overview of the Community Connect Program
  • The current NOFO
  • A walkthrough of the application process
  • Next steps and important dates
  • An opportunity to ask questions about the NOFO

We will present this webinar twice. Attendees should select the date that works best for their schedule. The webinars will include the same information at each session, and we’ll address questions as time permits during the session.

Slides, a transcript, and a recording of the webinar will be posted at the Community Connect website after the session.

Webinar Date and Time

Tuesday, March 28, 2023 from 1:00PM to 2:30PM Eastern

Register here!

Tuesday, April 11, 2023 from 1:00PM to 2:30PM Eastern

Register here!


Please submit any Community Connect questions using the Contact Us Form on the Program’s website.


Broadband access is necessary but not sufficient to expand use in some urban area

Earlier today I wrote about how rural Minnesota was missing out on telehealth benefits because of lack of broadband. And now here to report that they aren’t the only ones. Recent research indicates there are pockets in urban areas that are also underserved – based on racial/ethnic and income disparities…

As an emerging social determinant, broadband access impacts health across the life course, affecting students’ ability to learn and adults’ ability to find and retain jobs. Resolving lack of broadband access remains an urban priority. City policymakers can harness recent infrastructure funding opportunities to reduce broadband access disparities.

The article recognizes that access is better in urban areas than rural and suggests that help is on the way…

In the 2021 infrastructure bill, $65 billion dollars were allocated to build broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas, a step that should help to ameliorate infrastructure barriers to broadband connection.

Unfortunately, $65 billion may not get everyone covered but this article is focused on other reasons folks don’t have broadband at home…

Broadband gaps in cities are largely influenced by lack of affordability, disparities in digital literacy, and difficulties accessing broadband among populations with lower educational attainment and language barriers.5,14 Previous research has also found evidence of profit-based discrimination in service delivery contributing to racial and geographic disparities in broadband access.9 These factors suggest that infrastructure improvements alone may not be sufficient to eliminate disparities in broadband access for urban households.

Here are some of their conclusions, worth consideration for rural and urban areas looking to create a digital equity plan for their community. Access is necessary but not always sufficient to expanding broadband use…

Four key findings emerged from our analysis of broadband access in US cities. First, in 2021, about a quarter of households in the 905 largest US cities did not have broadband access at home. Second, households in low-income neighborhoods were less likely to have broadband access compared with households in high-income neighborhoods. Third, predominantly minority neighborhoods had lower broadband access compared to White and no majority neighborhoods, regardless of income level. Our findings confirm patterns previously published by the PEW Research Center and others using smaller surveys or a more limited geographic focus.5,9,21 Fourth, although broadband access increased only modestly between 2017 and 2021, we documented that improvements were larger in low-income and minority-predominant neighborhoods and had the effect of modestly reducing racial/ethnic and income broadband access disparities. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first article to comprehensively examine broadband access of city neighborhoods at national level.

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

The Post Bulletin reports

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

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

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


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

Broadband is a big issue…

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

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

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

Update on Border to Border grants in Corcoran and Rogers (Hennepin County)

Press and News reports

Hennepin County has been working on providing its residents with high-speed internet access, or broadband. Some of the cities that are going to receive broadband include Corcoran and Rogers.

These cities were both approved for Minnesota Border to Border Broadband Infrastructure Grants. Rogers will receive $643,056 and Corcoran will receive $1.298 million from this grant.

Comcast will be working with the cities and Hennepin County to provide Corcoran and Rogers with broadband.

“Comcast is expanding service to more than 490 homes in rural areas of Corcoran. Comcast will invest approximately $1.2 million, to bring the entire suite of Xfinity and Comcast Business services to Corcoran. Construction is planned to start in spring 2023,” Senior Director of External Communications, at Comcast Jill Hornbacher said.

Comcast will also be providing services to more than 400 homes in rural areas of south Rogers. They will invest $2.5 million to bring high-speed internet access to rural areas of Rogers.

The first phase of construction in Rogers was completed in 2021 and the second phase will start in spring 2023. In total, Comcast is investing $18.8 million to expand broadband services to over 7,000 homes in Wayzata, Rogers, Dayton, Corcoran, Spring Hill, and Grain Valley.

They are also using ARPA funds…

According to Anderson, Hennepin has been working over the last year and a half with cities and internet providers so that every household can get connected to broadband. Through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) funding, Hennepin County has allocated $10 million to this initiative.

OPPORTUNITY: Join the MN Broadband Task Force

I’ve posted about the opportunity before – but I’ve seen only a few folks apply. The current MN Broadband Task Force will sunset after the next meeting but the State is interested in re-starting anew later this year. They are inviting people to apply for a seat at the table now.

The Task Force meetings (mostly) monthly. The meetings have been (mostly) online since COVID. The job is to write an annual report that makes recommendations to the policymakers about how to get better broadband to everyone.

LTD Broadband changes its name to GigiFi Internet

Fierce Telecom reports

After a tough two years, LTD Broadband is hoping to turn the page in 2023 and start a new chapter with a new name to match: GigiFi Internet.

LTD Broadband has been operating as a fiber and fixed wireless access (FWA) operator under its current name since its founding in 2011. But CEO Corey Hauer told Fierce the new moniker is designed to draw attention to “our focus [on] gigabit FTTH and gigabit FWA in small cities and rural areas.”

Sounds like the business cards are ready but the website isn’t…

It was not immediately clear when the name change will be formalized. Hauer already has new business cards emblazoned with the GigiFi branding, but a website for GigiFi Internet says only that it is “coming soon.” Wave7 Research’s Jeff Moore drew Fierce’s attention to the new branding on Hauer’s business card.

They will still have a presence in Minnesota…

“We strongly believe the market is demanding gig symmetrical service regardless of a customer being in ‘town’ or out in the country. GigiFi is going to deliver that in both urban and rural areas throughout our eight-state footprint,” Hauer said. Its territory includes Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

EVENT Mar 28: City of Jenkins looks at subsidizing broadband

Pine and Lakes Echo Journal reports

CITY OF JENKINS CROW WING COUNTY STATE OF MINNSOTA NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING ON PROPOSED BUSINESS SUBSIDY CRITERIA AND AGREEMENT NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that City Council of Jenkins, Crow Wing County, Minnesota will meet at or after 4:30 p.m. on March 28, 2023 at Jenkins City Hall located at 33861 Cottage Ave, Jenkins, Minnesota 56474 to conduct a public hearing to consider adopting criteria for the granting of business subsidies and also to consider granting a business subsidy to Emily Consolidated Telephone Company dba ECTC under Minnesota Statutes, Sections 116J.993 through 116J.995, as amended, to assist in expanding rural broadband capacity within the Township. A draft copy of the business subsidy criteria and Broadband Development Agreement are available for public inspection on and after the date of this notice by contacting or submitting a written request to the City Clerk.