The Fiber Broadband Association advocates for policies to encourage the deployment of all-fiber networks in rural areas. People living in rural communities deserve the same broadband performance received by urban consumers so they have robust access to all economic, educational, and healthcare resources. As such, we support requiring that Universal Service Funds be used to deploy all-fiber networks to the premises. By pursuing such an approach, the government will avoid duplicate or wasteful government investment as the bandwidth necessary to ensure comparable levels of services increases.
DEED announced grant awards yesterday totaling $19.4 million to help 17 entities develop broadband infrastructure in their communities. The grants will provide up to 50 percent of the cost for improved high-speed Internet in unserved or underserved areas across the state. Altogether, DEED received funding requests for $44.2 million and 40 projects around the state. A map at www.tinyurl.com/DEEDBroadbandMap shows the location of each project and the amount awarded
The Office of Broadband Development (OBD) manages the grants program and also directs broadband planning and policy statewide. OBD will also be providing technical assistance to all applicants and others interested in the grant program. More details about the broadband program are at www.tinyurl.com/DEEDBroadbandProgram.
Starting today, Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith and OBD Executive Director Danna MacKenzie will travel to Chisholm, Brainerd, Fergus Falls and Luverne for broadband roundtable discussions with grant awardees and key stakeholders.
Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband 2014 Annual Report has been released. Included in the report are recommendations for legislative action this session and maps and data for the last round of mapping and survey work conducted by Connect Minnesota under the State Broadband Initiative program funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). As a placeholder for those interested, the next meeting of the Task Force is February 18, 2015 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU) boardroom located at 30 7th Street East, Suite 350, (Wells Fargo Place) St. Paul, MN. The planned topic is an overview of public network investments in Minnesota.
Rural Utilities Service Community Connect Grant Program
The Rural Utilities Service Community Connect Grant program for 2015 is open with applications due February 17, 2015. This program is intended for broadband deployment to rural areas where broadband is least likely to be available. Grant amounts range from $100,000 to $3 million and are awarded through a competitive process. More information is available at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/utp_commconnect.html
Library Services and Technology Act Grants
The Minnesota Department of Education recently released grant winners for its Playful Learning in Libraries and Expanded Learning through Libraries Mini-Grants. Several of these mini-grants include technology devices and digital literacy activities among the components funded. For a complete list of the awardees for these two programs and more information on the Library Services and Technology Act, see http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/StuSuc/Lib/StateLibServ/LSTA/index.html
Connect Minnesota Maps and Data
The State Broadband Initiative program funded by ARRA ended on January 31, 2015. Maps and data that had been available on the Connect Minnesota website have been added to the Office of Broadband at DEED website to ensure continued availability. Those maps and tables can be found at http://mn.gov/deed/programs-services/broadband/maps-tests/index.jsp If you are looking for data or a map that you previously accessed through the Connect Minnesota site but cannot find it, please contact us at DEED.firstname.lastname@example.org
Governor’s Task Force on Broadband meeting February 18 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., Topic: Overview of Public Network Investments in Minnesota. MNSCU boardroom, 30 7th Street East, Suite 350, (Wells Fargo Place) St. Paul, MN.
Broadband Conference 2015: “21st Century Broadband Networks – Driving our future!” February 19 from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in St. Paul: Information about the conference is available on the Minnesota Telecom Alliance (MTA) website at http://mnta.site-ym.com/events/event_details.asp?id=589541