Building broadband demand in Lac qui Parle Valley (Twin Cities Daily Planet) July 31, 2013

Last Monday I traveled with Bill Coleman to Lac qui Parle County in western Minnesota. I went to work with the LqP Economic Development Authority to promote local businesses via social media. Bill was going to work with Lac qui Parle Valley folks on their Blandin Broadband Community projects.

Pioneering muni wi-fi network might go dark (Government Technology) July 12, 2013

The days could be numbered for Chaska.net.

Officials in the small community outside of Minnesota’s Twin Cities reportedly are deciding whether it’s worth investing millions of dollars into one of America’s first municipal Wi-Fi networks

Trendsetting Minnesota municipal wi-fi may go offline (Watchdog) July 10, 2013

One of the nation’s first cities to enter the Internet provider business may soon exit, confronted with the reality of plowing millions of dollars to upgrade its aging Chaska.net WiFi network to remain competitive in a fast-evolving digital marketplace.

Last link is made in high speed Connect Anoka County internet system (Star Tribune) June 22, 2013

The last of 145 government, public safety and education facilities was connected recently to Anoka County’s 250-mile, high-speed Internet system.

City proposes settlement in muni-network debacle (Watchdog.org) June 17, 2013

The city of Monticello has proposed buying out bondholders of the troubled municipal Fibernet broadband network for $5.75 million, plus an estimated $3 million in escrow funds, to settle an impending class action lawsuit, Watchdog Minnesota has learned.

Hundreds facing financial losses from MN muni-broadband network (Watchdog Minnesota) June 14, 2013

Bill McKenzie’s email was short and to the point.

“I am (an) individual bondholder. Why doesn’t the city go to the reserve funds and pay the bond interest due on these bonds? You are hurting bondholders who loaned the city this money,” McKenzie wrote in frustration.

Intelligent Community Forum partners with Blandin Foundation to close the digital divide for rural Minnesota communities (Exchange Magazine) June 13, 2013

$6.6 million project monitored 11 communities over two years and tracked increases as high as 60% in the use of broadband to boost their economies.

Broadband expansion set for summer (Park Rapids Enterprise) June 5, 2013

More Hubbard County residents will have access to broadband after upgrades this summer to Paul Bunyan Communications’ network.

Ramsey County OKs bonding for scaled-back cable network (Star Tribune) June 4, 2013

Months after it stepped back from a massive public-private project for high-speed Internet services, the Ramsey County Board on Tuesday approved the sale of $7 million in bonds to assemble a more modest system for county business only.

70% of state residents able to access high speed internet (Minn Post) June 3, 2013

We’re still not quite as well wired as the South Koreans … But Dave Peters of MPR reports: “Nearly 70 percent of Minnesota households now have available the kind of high-speed Internet access that the state says they should. The latest semi-annual report from Connect Minnesota today said that 69.2 percent of households have access to download speeds of at least 10 megabits per second and upload speeds of six megabits per second.

Broadband availability rises again (Ground Level-MN NPR) May 31, 2013

Nearly 70 percent of Minnesota households now have available the kind of high-speed Internet access that the state says they should.

Eagan Lands provider for new 16.2-mile high speed fiber network (Eagan Patch) May 28, 2013

Frontier Communications will be the first provider on AccessEagan, the city’s new, 16.2-mile high-performance fiber optic network, thanks to an agreement recently forged between the the company and city officials.

Ramsey County officials changing course on high speed internet plan (Pioneer Press) May 14, 2013

A pricey proposal to build a state-of-the-art fiber-optic network shared by Ramsey County, the city of St. Paul, residents and private businesses is expected to die a quiet death on Tuesday, May 14, when the Ramsey County Board convenes its regular weekly meeting.

CBPU rates will increase with next bill (The Daily Reporter) April 23, 2013

…The city raised rates last year by $3 to cover local network must-carry program charges.

Asked by Peet if the increase could be phased in, Beckhusen said the telecommunication department has been in “the red for a long time.” He added there is no other way to cover costs, unless they used funds from other utility departments.

New state office could give Austin’s hunt for broadband steam (Austin Daily Herald) April 20, 2013

Vision 2020 organizers could get a boost from a new state office dedicated to spreading broadband Internet access throughout Minnesota.

Lake County stringing high-speed internet cable (WDIO) April 10, 2013

Lake County is building a broadband network despite federal lawmakers asking the USDA why the project got $66 million in taxpayer money.

Troubled muni teleco holds off bondholder lawsuit – for now (Watchdog) April 2, 2013

Threatened with a bond-holder lawsuit, the city of Monticello has quietly made a deal to buy time in negotiations with the trustee for owners of $26 million in revenue bonds for the financially struggling FiberNet broadband network.

Federal committee questions Lake County broadband project (Lake County News Chronicle) March 28, 2013

Lake County’s broadband project has become the object of a federal inquiry into the Broadband Initiatives Program.
The project, one of 320 broadband ventures funded as part of the Recovery Act of 2009, is being singled out by Republican members of the U. S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Congress investigating MN broadband stimulus project (Watchdog.org) March 20, 2013

Lake County Minnesotans can’t field calls or emails over their $66 million federal-stimulus funded Lake Connections broadband network, but the powerful U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee sure got through.

More Minnesotans adopt broadband internet (Minnesota Public Radio News) March 13, 2013

A new survey shows 78 percent of households in Minnesota have broadband Internet service.

Tools & views on community networks (Blandin on Broadband) March 4, 2013

Minnesota’s own Christopher Mitchell was on Democracy Now this morning talking about municipal/community networks with Amy Goodman and Catharine Rice, President of the SouthEast Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors and community broadband advocate. Here is a good description of the show from the Democracy Now website (video archive is also available; broadband topics starts about minute 48):

Minnesota senators press FCC for more Connect America funds (FierceCable) February 8, 2013
Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) are asking the FCC to release more Connect America Fund money to speed broadband upgrades in their home state.

Anatomy of a public private partnership from Mayo Clinic (Blandin on Broadband) February 1, 2013

Public-private partnership is touted as the best and most direct route for expanding broadband in Minnesota. I just heard it mentioned in a Senate committee meeting introducing the Minnesota Broadband Task Force reports and we posted a story about success with public-private partnership in Seattle in December.  So it’s exciting to learn about plans from the Mayo Clinic; the Clinic doesn’t mention broadband investment specifically, but I think we can assume that broadband is part of the infrastructure they need. And even if it’s only a small part, this is a great model.

Rethinking municipal broadband internet with Chris Mitchell (Streets MN) January 31, 2013

The podcast this week is a conversation with Chris Mitchell, director of the Telecommunications as Commons Initiative for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, or the ILSR. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance is a Minneapolis and DC based think tank that focuses on bringing infrastructure and community decision-making back to the local level on a whole host of issues, ranging from energy to waste recycling to supporting locally owned businesses.

Dayton’s budget funds broadband development (St. Cloud Times) January 23, 2013

Nestled among Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget recommendations made Tuesday was a promising sign for leaders pushing the development of high-speed broadband across the state.

Rural broadband ‘just like electricity’ – You have to have it (Post Bulletin) January 18 2013

The federal agency created in 1935 to bring electricity to farmers and small towns is now part of a major push to bring broadband Internet connections to rural America.

Minnesota’s broadband internet goals need state funding boost, task force says (Pioneer Press-Twin Cities) January 11, 2013

Minnesota’s telecommunications providers are going to need help from the public sector, led by the state, if the 2015 goals for faster broadband service are to be met, the head of a governor’s task force said.

Bigness doesn’t always trump in broadband (Minnesota Public Radio) January 11, 2013

There was an interesting exchange this morning between Margaret Anderson Kelliher, former House speaker and chair of a state broadband task force, and Duane Ring, Midwest Region President for CenturyLink and a member of the task force.

Help bridge the digital divide by completing a survey (Insight News) January 7, 2013

In January, the City of Minneapolis will survey city residents to get their perspectives about how they use computers, mobile devices and the Internet to better their daily lives. About 12,400 households will receive the survey in the mail from National Research Center, Inc., an independent research firm that will conduct the survey. Households contacted to complete the survey will be selected randomly throughout the entire city, with the goal of reaching a diverse cross-section of Minneapolis residents.

Governor’s group: state not on track to meet goal of broadband for all (Minnesota Public Radio) December 11, 2012

Gov. Mark Dayton’s year-old task force on broadband says Minnesota is not on track to meet the state’s 2015 goals of making high-speed Internet access available to every household by 2015.

Task force on broadband has more work to do (Park Rapids Enterprise-Editorial) December 14, 2012

The state’s Task Force on Broadband recently released its 2012 annual report and proposals listed in the report are encouraging.

Governor’s group: State not on track to meet goal of broadband for all (Minnesota Public Radio) December 11, 2012

Gov. Mark Dayton’s year-old task force on broadband says Minnesota is not on track to meet the state’s 2015 goals of making high-speed Internet access available to every household by 2015.

It says state government needs to play a role if the whole state wants access to high-speed broadband.

Local governments strive for broadband independence (Government Technology) November 21, 2012

A small town nestled away in southern Minnesota doesn’t sound like the description of a high-tech battleground between local government and Internet service providers. But that’s reality in Winthrop, Minn. (pop 1,400), where the city’s fight to light up a municipally-owned broadband network is the latest skirmish in a national war for access to high-speed Internet connectivity.

DFL legislature could make a difference for broadband (Minnesota Public Radio) November 13, 2012

High speed access to the Internet didn’t get much attention during the campaign for last week’s elections. But the turnover in Minnesota’s Legislature could make a difference in the state’s broadband policy.

Minnesota poised to lead in next generation rural broadband adoption (BusinessWire) November 14, 2012

LocaLoop ‘takes to the cloud’ delivering affordable 4G wireless and mobile broadband Internet service to underserved communities.

Ramsey County’s fiber optics partner is out (Star Tribune) November 2, 2012

Ramsey County is dumping its private sector partner in a fiber optics project that was expected to start next spring and cost more than $28 million in public and private funding.

Sibley County opts out of fiber project, may give rise to farmer cooperative (Minnesota Public Radio) October 29, 2012

The Sibley County Board of Commissioners voted last week to withdraw from a $70 million fiber broadband project that aims to bring high-speed internet to homes in at least 11 southern Minnesota communities.

The action makes unlikely one of its original goals — getting high-speed fiber to every farm in the county — but some farmers are already organizing to take another tack.

Fiber project tabled (The Journal) October 10, 2012

After more than 90 minutes of discussion Tuesday before a standing-room only crowd, the Sibley County Board tabled action on the RS Fiber project.

Area police agencies look to broadband for the future (St. Cloud Times) October 8, 2012

As the Internet begins to permeate every aspect of our lives, we’ve come to expect instantaneous access to information. For the public safety community, this ease of access could mean they are able to assess a situation that much quicker, and send that life-saving helicopter that much sooner, or follow criminals wherever they go.

High fiber debate (Institute for Local Self-Reliance) October 3, 2012

MN: The streets have yet to be ripped up, the trenches yet to be dug, for a proposed $14 million ultrafast fiber-optic underground broadband network in Ramsey County.

Fiber phase one nearing completion (Lake County News Chronicle) September 28, 2012

Everyone in Lake County will eventually be contacted with permission cards for fiber optic network connection. The project is in its first phase of construction and County Administrator, Matt Huddleston and Lake Connections project manager, Jeff Roiland, want residents to know the cards are on their way.

Fiber optic network moves through Brainerd (Brainerd Dispatch) September 20, 2012

MN: Construction of 428 miles of fiber optic network for a Greater Minnesota Broadband Collaborative Project rolled into the Brainerd area this week.

Fiber optics project goes forward in Renville County, MN (West Central Tribune) September 12, 2012

MN: The Renville County Board of Commissioners moved the Renville-Sibley County Fiber Optics to the Home project forward by approving an amended joint powers agreement on Tuesday.

$70 Million countywide government telecom network on hold (Freedom Foundation of Minnesota) September 5, 2012

MN: Construction of the proposed taxpayer-backed telecom network known as RS Fiber has been quietly pushed back until at least next spring. Yet you’d never know this if you visited their website.

Public fiber network decision deserves a high profile (TwinCities.com) August 22, 2012

From issuing a permit to taking a 911 call to checking out a library book, governments run on their technology networks. “No network, no city services,” says Andrea Casselton, St. Paul’s director of technology and communications.

Minnesota under average for broadband access (Minnesota Public Radoi) August 24, 2012

Minnesota, which has set lofty goals for broadband access and which has a state task force working on ways to improve it, came out below average in this week’s annual broadband report by the Federal Communications Commission.

Anoka County’s fiber network nears finish (Start Tribune) August 18, 2012

A fiber optic line in Anoka County that will provide ultra-fast communication and, officials say, eventually give more people access to broadband Internet is heading toward a fall completion.

Broadband battle hits rural areas (Star Tribune) August 14, 2012

Cable companies weren’t interested when the federal government dangled millions of dollars to expand broadband Internet service in Lake County.

Small towns become broadband battlegrounds (Government Technology) August 14, 2012

Battles between federal government and broadband companies are breaking out in patches of rural America. In Lake County, Minn., for example, most of the region doesn’t have access to high-speed Internet, but cable companies turned down government subsidies to extend their networks there.

Iowa, Minnesota add rural and municipal broadband(CivSource) August 13, 2012

Indianola Municipal Utilities (IMU) of Indianola, Iowa has announced that it will start offering its ownmunicipal fiber system starting on October 1. The network will be offered at a higher speed and lower price point than other service providers in the area, and will go by the name Mahaska Communication Group. In Minnesota, the Blandin Foundation announced $2.4 million in grants to support improvements including increased broadband access throughout rural Minnesota.

St. Paul OKs pursuit of fiber-optic network (Star Tribune) August 1, 2012

The St. Paul City Council formally gave the go-ahead Wednesday for negotiations with Ramsey County that will determine how to lay out and pay for a public-private fiber-optic network.

Ramsey County and St. Paul posed to enter fiber optics fray (Star Tribune) July 27, 2012

Ramsey County and St. Paul next week will step into the high-stakes business of fiber optics by building and operating their own network in partnership with a private company that will sell cable services to homeowners and businesses.

Lake County’s broadband effort rankles private co. (Minnesota Public Radio News) July 22, 2012

On the outskirts of town, Granite Gear has been designing and manufacturing canoe packs and other outdoor gear for more than two decades.

Lake County broadband effort irks private sector providers (Grand Forks Herald) July 22, 2012

On the outskirts of town, Granite Gear has been designing and manufacturing canoe packs and other outdoor gear for more than two decades.

Lake County strings broadband fiber; Cook County get cash (Minnesota Public Radio) July 18, 2012

Workers started stringing fiber Tuesday for the sprawling Lake County broadband project, which has become a hotspot in the debate over the public’s role in extending Internet access. Meanwhile, just up the road in Cook County, that debate is muted, and the first federal check to build a broadband fiber network just rolled in.

Monticello hopes private company can help struggling municipal broadband (Minnesota Public Radio News) June 12, 2012

A new company will run a financially struggling, municipally-owned broadband network, the city of Monticello decided Monday evening…

…Last week, the city stopped making payments on $26 million in bonds used to build its network. Earlier this month a Winona-based company called Hiawatha Broadband Communications that operated Monticello’s network from the start, announced it was dissolving its partnership with the city.

Monticello MN brings in Gigabit Squared to help muni fiber network (CivSource) June 12, 2012

The Monticello, Minnesota city council approved a measure last night that chose US-based Gigabit Squared, a municipal broadband provider to improve a locsl municipal broadband network that will compete with local private sector providers. The company is tasked with undetaking a six month long review of the city’s existing network and look for ways to make it more profitable and efficient.

Monticello approves broadband transitional plan (Star Tribune) June 11, 2012

Monticello City Council voted 5-0 Monday evening to hire telecommunications consultant Gigabit Squared to run its municipal broadband service on an interim basis.

Monticello’s model broadband effort in peril (Star Tribune) June 7, 2012

Once seen as a national model, Monticello’s broadband network can no longer pay its bills.

Monticello stops broadband bond payments (Minnesota Public Radio News) June 6, 2012

Strapped by lower revenue than expected for a project that delivers high-speed Internet access to residents, the city of Monticello has stopped making payments toward $26 million in bonds that were used to build the network.

Monticello’s FiberNet warns bond holders as losses mount (Freedom Foundation of Minnesota)

The City of Monticello has put bondholders on notice that the municipal broadband network once hailed as a national model is unable to meet its financial obligations with revenue generated from FiberNet Monticello customers. Instead, city leaders now will discuss how to restructure payment of $26 million in revenue bonds to save the faltering broadband network.

Broadband projects take a bumpy ride (Minnesota Public Radio News) March 27, 2012

A project to bring high-speed Internet access to 1,500 homes in Lac qui Parle County in western Minnesota was supposed to be well under way by now. It had federal approval and millions in federal stimulus dollars at the ready, but last spring the project hit a snag. Farmers Mutual, the local telephone company building the network, couldn’t lay its hands on the necessary fiber optic cable.

Monticello (MN) municipal broadband slugs it out (Minnesota Public Radio News) March 26, 2012

When the city of Monticello started providing broadband service in late 2010, advocates hailed it as a model for bringing new technology to an underserved region. Fiber optic lines were making Internet access as fast as anywhere in the state.

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