EVENT Sep 20: MRBC IIJA/BEAD Broadband Funding Webinar

An invitation from the Minnesota Broadband Coalition…

MRBC IIJA/BEAD Broadband Funding Webinar

This event is scheduled for September 20 from 9:00 – 11:00 am and will include guest experts from around the nation as well as opportunity for small group discussion and reporting.   Details on how to join the meeting are below.

The current line-up includes:

  • Adrianne Furniss – Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
  • Peggy Schaffer – former head of the Maine Broadband Office
  • Doug Dawson – CCG Consulting
  • Brian Ford – NTCA.

If you have ideas for guest experts, please let Bill know at bill@communitytechnologyadvisors.com.

Agenda
9:00am Welcome – Jay Trusty, Chair, MN Rural Broadband Coalition
9:05am Quick overview of the IIJA Timeline/Planning Process, Adrianne Furniss, Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
9:15am Expert Panel – Key considerations for community-focused broadband
9:45am Breakout discussions on key topics
10:15am Small group reporting to the large group
10:40am Prospective role of MN Rural BB Coalition in IIJA process/Ensuring effective community voice (facilitated discussion by Bill Coleman)
10:55am Closing – Jay Trusty

Meeting Information:
Topic: IIJA/BEAD Broadband Funding Webinar
Time: Sep 20, 2022, 09:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 882 3489 1525
Passcode: 834949
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Update on MN PUC looking into LTD Broadband – movements forward

Last week, I mentioned that the Minnesota PUC decided to continue to move forward looking at revoking LTD Broadband’s ETC designation. (Background: LTD was awarded an opportunity to apply for$311 million in federal RDOF funding. They needed the ETC designation from the MN PUC to qualify; industry folks asked the MN PUC to rethink their designation because there were concerns about LTD being able to fulfill the contract. Last month, their application for RDOF was rejected.)

Last week, the PUC asked LTD to share their long form RDOF application. They also invited folks to send comments (by Sep 16) in advance of a prehearing conference call planned for Sep 20. So afar a Lawyer from Moss and Barnett sent a– Nondisclosure Agreement – Trade Secret Information for Richard J. Johnson relating to the Protective Order issued September 1, 2022 and enclosed a Certificate of Service. The document highlights the folks who will have access to the long form application.

Not much news but it looks like there is movement forward.

FCC and Paul Bunyan raise awareness of Affordable Connectivity Programs

The latest from Paul Bunyan…

Paul Bunyan Communications and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are promoting Lifeline Awareness Week, September 12-16.

“Access to reliable high speed Internet service is critical.  We promote the Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program a lot throughout the year and Lifeline Awareness Week is another opportunity to spread the word about these programs.  We want to make sure all of our membership and those who live within our service area know about them and the benefit they can provide.  These programs help those struggling to afford Internet services get and stay connected!” said Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General Manager

Lifeline is an FCC program designed to help make communications services more affordable for low-income consumers.  Lifeline provides up to a $9.25 monthly discount on qualifying voice and broadband services for eligible low-income subscribers and up to $34.25 per month for subscribers on qualifying Tribal lands.  To learn more about Lifeline, go to www.fcc.gov/lifeline-consumers or www.lifelinesupport.org/.

A new FCC program, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), is also now available to help families and households struggling to afford internet service.  The Affordable Connectivity Program provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands.  Additional information about the Affordable Connectivity Program Benefit is available at www.fcc.gov/ACP, or by calling 877-384-2575 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET any day of the week.  Households that qualify for Lifeline also qualify for the ACP Benefit.

Telehealth saved lives of patients with opioid addiction

The Voice of Alexandria reports

Telehealth flourished during the pandemic, and now a new study shows it saved lives: The practice meant more people struggling with opioid addiction stayed in treatment longer and thereby lowered their risk of dying from an overdose.

For the study, researchers analyzed data among nearly 176,000 Medicare beneficiaries from September 2018 to February 2021. The analysis looked at telehealth services, medications for opioid use disorder, and medically treated overdoses among patients starting a new round of care before the pandemic compared to those during the pandemic.

More info

What did the study find? Patients in the pandemic group were more likely to receive telehealth services (19.6% versus 0.6%) and were more likely to receive medications for opioid use disorder (12.6% versus 10.8%). The findings were published online Aug. 31 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Even better than that, using telehealth services was linked to better adherence to medications, as well as a lower risk of having to be treated for an overdose, the investigators found.

“The expansion of telehealth services for people with substance use disorders during the pandemic has helped to address barriers to accessing medical care for addiction throughout the country that have long existed,” according to senior study author Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

EVENT Sep 7: Webinar on how to Challenge National Broadband maps

The FCC reports…

By this Public Notice, the Broadband Data Task Force (Task Force), together with the Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) and Office of Economics and Analytics (OEA), announce that as of September 12, 2022, state, local, and Tribal governments, service providers, and other entities can begin to file bulk challenges to data in the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric (Fabric),1 which serves as the foundation for the Broadband Data Collection (BDC) fixed availability maps. We also announce that we will host a webinar on September 7, 2022, at 2 p.m. EDT, to assist state, local, and Tribal governments, service providers, and other entities who intend to submit bulk challenges, or proposed corrections, to the location data in the Fabric. The virtual event will stream on www.fcc.gov/live and the Commission’s YouTube page at www.youtube.com/FCC and will provide an overview of Fabric challenges and a walkthrough of the BDC system’s bulk Fabric challenge submission process.

The Fabric is a common dataset of all locations in the United States where fixed broadband Internet access service is or can be installed.2 The Broadband DATA Act3 required the Commission to issue rules establishing the Fabric, which will, among other things, serve as the foundation on which all data relating to the availability of fixed broadband Internet access service will be reported and overlaid.4 The Commission adopted the Fabric and the basic elements required by the Broadband DATA Act in the Second Report and Order5 and further refined key definitions for the Fabric (and established the Fabric challenge process) in the Third Report and Order. 6 Specifically, the Commission adopted a definition of a “location” for purposes of the Fabric, as well as definitions for “residential location” and “business location,” and delegated responsibility to OEA, in consultation with WCB, to ensure that locations reflect broadband serviceability to the extent OEA and WCB are able to make determinations given the data available.7 The Task Force, OEA, and WCB subsequently provided details on the methods for identifying structures that constitute broadband serviceable locations (BSLs) in the Fabric.8 Fixed broadband service providers that report their broadband availability data using a list of locations must report their service availability based on the location data in the Fabric.9 On June 23, 2022, the Task Force, WCB, and OEA made the production version of the Fabric available to fixed broadband service providers and state, local and Tribal government entities.

Starting on September 12, 2022, governmental entities, broadband service providers, and other entities that have obtained Fabric data using the process set forth in prior public notices11 may submit bulk challenges to the Fabric data in the BDC system. These stakeholders are uniquely positioned to provide early feedback on a large number of locations included in the Fabric data, which will help to refine the next version of the Fabric expected to be released in December. The Task Force, OEA, and WCB previously issued detailed data specifications for formatting and submitting bulk Fabric challenges in the BDC system.12 Once the BDC broadband maps are published later this year, members of the public will be able to view the maps and submit online challenges to the Fabric data associated with an individual location using the map interface.

We remind governments, service providers, and other entities and organizations planning to submit challenges that the Fabric is intended to identify BSLs as defined by the Commission,13 which will not necessarily include all structures at a particular location or parcel. We therefore urge potential challengers to familiarize themselves with the Commission’s definition of BSLs and the additional guidance provided in the Bulk Fabric Challenge Specs Public Notice where we describe some of the characteristics of BSLs so that challengers will be able to align their data with the Fabric location data to determine where BSLs may be missing or mischaracterized. We also reiterate that bulk Fabric challenges must conform to the specifications set forth in the Data Specifications for Bulk Fabric Challenge Data. 14 The challenge data must include, among other things, the name and contact information of the submitting entity, the Fabric location subject to challenge, the category of the challenge for each location, and evidence supporting the challenge.15 Each bulk Fabric challenge data file must include records for each location being challenged in a Comma Separated Value (CSV) format, all fields must be included in the file upload, and all values must conform to the descriptions, codes, or formats identified for each field in the Data Specifications for Bulk Fabric Challenge Data. 16 Bulk Fabric challengers also must certify that the information they submit is true and correct (to the best of their actual knowledge, information, and belief) for each location that is part of the bulk challenge.

The September 7 webinar will be streamed live at both www.fcc.gov/live and on the Commission’s YouTube page at www.youtube.com/FCC beginning at 2 p.m. EDT. A recording of the webinar will be posted to the Commission’s BDC webpage at www.fcc.gov/BroadbandData and on the Commission’s YouTube page. The event will include time for questions and answers, and questions may be submitted in advance of or during the workshop at BDCwebinar@fcc.gov.

Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available on request. Please include a description of the accommodation you will need and tell us how to contact you if we need more information. Make your request as early as possible. Last-minute requests will be accepted, but may not be possible to fulfill. Send an e-mail to FCC504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice).

The Commission also has made available on the BDC Help Center site at www.fcc.gov/BroadbandData/Help additional technical assistance materials for filing challenges to Fabric data, including the Data Specifications for Bulk Fabric Challenge Data (which sets forth the requirements for filing bulk challenges to BSL data in the Fabric), Fabric FAQs, and a bulk Fabric challenge data matrix, among other resources.

EVENT Sep 15: Webinar on getting assistance from Affordable Connectivity Program

Sahan Journal posts information on how people in Minnesota can get funding from the Affordable Connectivity Program and they are hosting an online even on Sept 15…

On September 15, 2022, Sahan Journal–with support from Comcast–is hosting a free virtual community discussion that uncovers how the landscape around digital equity and access has changed in the last two years, and how that has impacted schooling and remote work in the state of Minnesota. This discussion is ideal for parents who are in the midst of planning for the new school year, or for adult learners and remote workers who have questions on how to take advantage of local and state programs that not only offer affordable internet access and technology, but ensure that you have the proper skills to use hardware and devices, and access broadband when available. Register here no later than September 8,2022: www.tinyurl.com/digital-equity

Update on LTD Broadband hearings at MN PUC – next meeting scheduled for September 10

In July, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) held a hearing to decide whether or not to look into revoking LTD Broadband’s ETC designation. The designation was important because their ability to receive a large amount ($311 million) was in part dependent on having the designation. They decided to move forward. In August, the FCC rejected LTD’s application for the federal funds based on numerous reasons. So the big question was whether the PUC would continue on with its investigation or not. They did.

 

August 24, the PUC heard from interested parties and have decide to ask for materials from LTD, give folks an opportunity to respond and to meet again (via phone) on September 20…

  1. LTD shall serve and file the long-form application, related correspondence, and attachments by August 26, 2022.
  2. Parties wishing to intervene in this proceeding must file their requests by 4:30 p.m. on September 16, 2022.
  3. A prehearing conference will be held by telephone on September 20, 2022, at 2:30 p.m. to review the status of the case, define the issues and set the dates for hearing. At that time, please call 1-866-705-2554 and when prompted enter passcode 406954.
    Dated: September 1, 202

Blandin Foundation’s new strategic direction

I wanted to share the following note from the Blandin Foundation…

Rural communities have been dealing with challenges that just keep snowballing. Years of tensions that split
communities further apart are making it more challenging for people to work together. State and federal fiscal policies
have not kept up with public funding needs in counties, cities and small towns. Folks often serve in a half-dozen or more
community roles at the same time and are expected to do more with less. Recession looms in many of our memories
and worries.
On top of that, two-plus years of constant stress, grief and loss from COVID, increasing political tensions, racial unrest,
and the quickly changing environment.
These realities have called Blandin Foundation to find new ways to help rural people build bridges toward strong futures.
After talking to leaders across rural Minnesota, and doing deep research, we came to a few conclusions about what’s
needed to make change happen:
• People need to feel connected to each other and to the future of their community. Connected individuals stay
healthier, are happier, achieve higher education, improve their job outlook and are more likely to have longterm economic upward mobility. Connected communities thrive amidst change, both unintended (disaster,
economic uncertainty) and proactive (future-forward community initiatives).
• They need access to resources, like money and new ideas and opportunities. Rural America receives only about
5 percent of the nation’s available funds (like grants) from philanthropy, even though 20 percent of the
population lives in rural areas. In addition, rural and Native Nations in Minnesota, like rural regions across the
country, have faced disinvestment and resulting decline for decades.
Energy generated by our new vision, mission and values invigorates our work.
Two fresh frames bring rural Minnesota’s needs into crisper focus: equity – of place, race and class, and the imperative
to change outdated policies that don’t serve rural well.
These lenses led us to focus on 3 areas of priority:
• Rural Placemaking for arts, culture and systems people use to create the unique destinations and social fabric
rural folks love about their home places and their identity;
• Community Wealth Building so communities can build their bases of knowledge, money and more, and keep it
close to home; and
• Small Communities to get those places, especially in our home giving area, grants to fund work that changes
systems to work better for everyone.
We’ve retooled our grantmaking to focus on our 3 priority areas, and will develop programs focused on advocacy and
rural capacity that will build on our experience in community leadership and broadband.
We remain steadfast in our donor’s intent – to focus on the quality of life for the worker – especially in our Home Giving
Area. Moving rural places forward, to equitable and sustainable futures will take us all. We look forward to learning
from you and with you as we step forward together towards strong rural communities.
Tuleah Palmer
President and CEO

 

OPPORTUNITY: position open on the MN Broadband Task Force

From the Minnesota Secretary of State…

The Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State today released notice of vacancies for various state boards, councils and committees that are accepting applications. Minnesotans are encouraged to apply and serve in demonstration of public service. The newest vacancies are listed below, and the full list of 344 vacancies can be found on our website Open Positions.

The positions include a seat on the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband. They meet monthly and it’s a great opportunity to help shape the future of broadband in Minnesota.

ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative unveils new Affordable Connectivity Program Dashboard

Big new tool from the Institute for Local Self Reliance…

Today the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) unveiled its Affordable Connectivity Program Dashboard.

A product of ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative, the interactive dashboard tells a visual story of how many Americans are enrolled in the program, offers predictive models on when the funds will be depleted, and shows how much is being spent at the national, state, and zip-code level.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) was established with the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to help low-income households get in-home high-speed Internet service. The program offers a $30 monthly subsidy for income-eligible households to pay for a broadband subscription. The subsidy is $75/month for Tribal citizens and offers a one-time $100 subsidy for all program participants to buy an Internet-connected digital device.

The ACP Dashboard contains numerous features, including the month and year the fund will be depleted. At the current enrollment rate, the fund will run out in March 2025. The dashboard also includes a list of the 10 major cities with the highest ACP enrollment numbers:

  • Cleveland, OH
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Detroit, MI
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Columbus, OH
  • San Diego, CA
  • New York City
  • San Antonio, TX/Washington D.C.

“Although the ACP is a short-term solution to a long-term challenge, it is a vital program for Americans unable to afford basic home Internet service where it’s available now,” noted Community Broadband Networks Initiative Senior Researcher Ry Marcattilio. “However, only a relatively small percentage of eligible households have enrolled in the program.”

“As efforts to ramp-up enrollment are ongoing, it’s important for those concerned about digital equity to bear in mind that the ACP relies on Congressional appropriation. And when the fund is exhausted, low-income households will see their bills go up significantly without further appropriation,” said Christine Parker, Community Broadband Networks Initiative GIS/Data Visualization Specialist.

The ACP Dashboard, which relies on data from the Universal Service Administrative Company, was designed to make ACP enrollment data more accessible to the public, interested policy makers, and frontline digital equity advocates. It can be especially useful as a tool to quickly identify where there are inequities across different parts of the country and begin exploring what may be driving these disparate outcomes. 

“Some parts of the country are seeing higher enrollment rates than others, suggesting there are things to be learned about the obstacles in signing up participants,” Marcattilio said.

The dashboard is iterative and updated with the latest enrollment numbers every two weeks. ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative has created a standalone website for the dashboard, which can be found here.

About the Institute for Local Self-Reliance:

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has a vision of thriving, equitable communities. We are a national research and advocacy organization that partners with allies across the country to build an American economy driven by local priorities and accountable to people and the planet. ILSR.org 

Here’s where Minnesota stands (today) with:

  • 27.7 % of eligible households enrolled
  • 139,161 total household enrolled
  • $4,279,200.75 Total spending in MN

City of Cook is looking at fiber before winter

The Ely Timber Jay reports

Deployment of the city of Cook’s new fiber optic high-speed broadband network is on track to be operational before winter sets in, and new projects proposed for multiple North Country areas could come next if their current applications for additional state funding support are approved.
Work on the Cook network being installed by Paul Bunyan Communications was originally scheduled to begin next spring, but multiple factors have allowed the company to accelerate that schedule. Crews began laying the main fiber optic cables several weeks ago, and those who subscribe to the service now will likely have high-speed broadband this fall.

They also mention some grant applications in the Border to Border hopper that may get funded this fall…

One of those is the nation’s eighth largest internet provider, Frontier Communications, which already provides some services in the North Country that qualify as “high speed” broadband under the FCC’s 100 megabyte down, 25 megabyte up definition.
Frontier has proposed two-gig service deployment for the areas of Ely, Tower, and Crane Lake, including areas formerly designated for LTD.
A proposal for deploying high-speed broadband in the Eagles Nest area, submitted by Ely-based Treehouse Broadband, is also under consideration for Border-to-Border funding.

A fiber cut takes down internet and phone service in Northeast Minnesota (Cook & Lake Counties)

MPR reports on how a fiber cut took down internet and phone services (landline and many mobile services) on the North Shore. Shops couldn’t accept credit cards, tourists couldn’t use credit cards or ATMs, hospitals couldn’t transfer x-rays for review and while police could accept calls few people could make them…

Those headaches began at 11:19 a.m. on Friday morning, when a company installing an underground cable about three miles north of Silver Bay accidentally cut the main fiber optic trunk line that runs from Duluth up the North Shore.

That line is owned by the Northeast Service Cooperative, or NESC, a nonprofit public corporation established by the state legislature that operates a 1,200-mile fiber optic network across northeastern Minnesota.

Jon Loeffen, who oversees that network for NESC, said it’s still unclear who cut the line. What is clear, he said, is that whoever it was broke the law by failing to properly notify existing utilities through Gopher State One Call that they were planning to dig in the area.

“That was a terrible place for us to get hit because it was a main artery to our network,” Loeffen said.

And that fiber optic line doesn’t just provide internet service. It provides fiber connectivity between cell towers and carriers like AT&T and Verizon. So when the line was cut Friday, it also disrupted cell phone service.

The story reminded me of Winter 2010, when a broken steam pipe in Duluth caused the same issues. I assumed the new fiber service took that incident into effect, sounds like they did but there are still issues…

For years there was only a single fiber optic line that linked the North Shore to the Duluth area. Any disruption to that line would often lead to widespread outages.

A few years ago NESC installed a second line to create a more diverse system with redundancy built into it, so that if one line went down, traffic could be diverted to the other line almost instantaneously.

But this incident exposed holes in the system. The cut to the fiber line a few miles north of Silver Bay occurred “in an area that did not have that redundancy built in on that particular segment,” said Loeffen.

It took about six hours to switch most internet and cell phone service over to that redundant line. But it took AT&T nearly 24 hours to restore its service, DeCoux said.

NESC is now putting together a plan to install additional equipment and reconfigure its network links up the North Shore, “so that hopefully in the future, if something like that occurs again, there won’t be an outage for some of those services because they’re going to be on a protected, diverse path,” Loeffen said.

The goal, he said, is to complete that work in less than a month.

Comcast expands broadband to Rogers, Dayton and Wayzata MN (Hennepin & Wright Counties)

Fierce Telecom announces investment in broadband in Kansas as well as a few areas in Minnesota…

Other builds include an expansions to 267 homes in Rogers, Minnesota, and another 245 in Dayton; as well as work to reach 537 homes in Grain Valley, Missouri. It also plans to spend $2.5 million on a network expansion in Wayzata, Minnesota.

Practical instructions for getting a community invested in BEAD from Benton

Benton Institute for Broadband and Society has a great article on Getting a BEAD on Community Asset Mapping How Community Development Can Aid Your State’s Broadband Planning. They include what and whom to gather…

The six buckets are individual residents, voluntary associations, formal institutions and agencies, physical assets, local economy and exchange, and culture and stories.

 

And even details on the nitty gritty…

Asset mapping is the process of identifying, engaging and mobilizing these assets. A community asset mapping is entirely distinct from a resource directory which simply lists assets and provides contact information. This distinction is around purpose and rooted in its creation process. Asset mapping is done by gathering community residents and stakeholders and facilitating discussions about what and where the assets are and how they might be engaged and activated towards a community goal. There are a variety of ways to do this and the ABCD Institute at DePaul University has numerous worksheets and templates available. The most effective process I have used goes as follows:

First, gather community residents, leaders and connectors in person or online (if that can be done in an equitable way). Include some key non-resident stakeholders but keep residents, of different ages, in the majority. Nonresident stakeholders who can be very useful in this process include teachers, small business owners, chambers of commerce staff, clergy, school social workers, library staff, and municipal/county/tribal employees such as park and recreation workers, planners and utility workers. This process works especially well with 35-55 people but can be adapted for larger groups. Once gathered, follow these steps:

  1. Randomly divide the large group into six sub-groups.
  2. Assign each group to an asset bucket or category (usually posted on walls around the room)
  3. Give the groups 5-6 minutes to brainstorm and write all the assets in that category that can be found in the defined community (neighborhood, town, county).
  4. After 5-6 minutes ring a bell and have the groups rotate to a new asset category. Give them 4-5 minutes at the new station.
  5. Repeat until all sub-groups have added their input to all asset categories.
  6. Ask each group to rotate one last time to return to the asset category they started with and have them read what was added by other subgroups.
  7. Ask a representative from each area to read the assets from that category to the whole room. Often some discussion will result in recategorization of assets and many assets will appropriately appear in more than one area (e.g. a church is an association that often has physical assets and resident leaders). This will feel long and redundant for the facilitator – but the process creates a cumulative effect on participants. Hearing all the strengths of one’s community for 20 minutes is empowering and energizing and prepares the participants for the next steps.
  8. Seat participants at tables (or send to new breakout rooms if virtual) and ask groups at tables to look at all the assets and answer three questions:
    1. “What can we do with what we have to ________?” The blank would be the purpose of the convening. It could be as broad as “… to make our community stronger.” It can also be specific like “to make our community heart healthy” or “to achieve digital equity.” (Have a definition handy to help focus the discussion.)
    2. What can we do with what we have and some help from others outside the community?
    3. What do we need others outside the community to do?
  9. After 10-15 minutes ask each table to identify 1-2 ideas that they are particularly excited about.
  10. Have each table present their best ideas, using some descriptor words written on paper then taped to the wall.
  11. Ask everyone in the room to think about actions that they want to work on and to which they want to contribute their time or talents. Then invite participants to stand next to the piece of paper with the action idea they want to work on. (Remind participants “It is OK to not stand – honor your limits.”)
  12. Give each group a flip chart sheet to use to identify the assets they might use to implement their action and make the change they want to make. Also, have them write down when and where their action group is meeting next to plan/implement.
  13. Have each action team share out and give participants an opportunity to ‘change teams’ or add their name to a team.
  14. Celebrate and let everyone know when and how follow-up will happen.

 

EVENT Sep 12: Affordable Connectivity Program Sign Up Day in Inger

An announcement from Paul Bunyan…

Paul Bunyan Communications, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and the Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) are holding a sign-up day for the Affordable Connectivity Program, on Monday, September 12 from 2-7 p.m. at the Inger Community Center.

This new long-term benefit 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 ACPBenefit.org 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 www.fcc.gov/ACP, or by calling 877-384-2575 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET any day of the week.

About Paul Bunyan Communications

Paul Bunyan Communications has the region’s largest and fastest all fiber optic network with over 6,000 square miles throughout most of Beltrami County and portions of Cass, Hubbard, Itasca, Koochiching, and St. Louis Counties.  The Cooperative provides fiber optic fast Internet speeds up to 10 Gig powered by the GigaZone, television services, digital voice services, Residential and Business IT services, and is also the home of northern Minnesota’s certified Apple Service Center.

About Itasca Economic Development Corporation

The Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) formed in 1981 as a non-profit corporation dedicated to the creation of high-quality jobs in and around Itasca County. Throughout its history, IEDC has established itself as a go-to resource for business retention, growth, and expansion. Their mission is to grow the Itasca County economy through education, research and outreach that creates business opportunities.