By Ann Treacy
Many Minnesota high tech companies convened in Minneapolis for the Minnesota High Tech Association Spring Conference last week. Broadband was in the air as Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Chair of the current Minnesota Broadband Task Force, hosted the event and Rick King, original Task Force Chair, presented the keynote.
While hot topics included robotics, cloud computing and security — improving broadband access through deployment and adoption efforts across Minnesota remains vital to Minnesota’s prosperity.
In the last month, the Blandin on Broadband blog has highlighted broadband deployment, adoption and policy successes and challenges in Minnesota:
Progress in broadband and technology deployment:
- Sibley County Commissioners vote to move ahead with fiber optic plan, which means 10 cities and Sibley and Renville Counties will pursue a community network plan.
- The Northeast Service Coop (NESC) builds 415 miles of fiber in 2011 and plans for further expansion of Middle Mile infrastructure in 2012 thanks to ARRA-funding.
- Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services completed fiber builds in five more communities, extending the reach of their ARRA-funded FTTH services.
- Nextera Communications plans to expand its wireless services to the Duluth area.
- Cloquet Valley works with other local communities to search for a solution to better broadband for their rural areas north of Duluth.
- Anoka County progresses with their ARRA-funded Middle Mile fiber network and will soon pursue partnerships with Last Mile providers to provide access to local residents.
Progress in broadband adoption and policy:
- Blandin Foundation commits to continuing investment in high-speed broadband through 2014.
- The Minnesota Broadband Task Force met at Unisys in Eagan. They heard from Dakota County on their efforts to create broadband-friendly policy, especially in terms of coordinating access to rights-of-way to facilitate better broadband deployment. Eagan and the city’s efforts to build a data center in Eagan were featured at the University of Minnesota in a discussion on public-private partnerships.
- Fergus Falls focused on a Telework Initiative as a means to increase economic development for the community, local businesses and local residents.
- PCs for People and Rainey River Community College partner to provide refurbished computers and Internet access to local, low-income residents.
Concerns for broadband deployment and use:
- Super-fast satellite broadband is promoted in various areas, but there are concerns regarding the inherent latency of the technology.
- The University of Minnesota and Department of Homeland Security lead discussions on cyber security from the personal, enterprise and national perspective. User error is still touted as weakest security link.