Minnesota Broadband and Biz: February 2014

by Ann Treacy


Blandin-Foundation_1The Minnesota Legislature has started their un-session and several broadband topics have already arisen.

The Minnesota Broadband Task Force heard from the Broadband Tax Institute on a report that supports reinstating the telecom equipment sales tax. Legislators (such Senators Schmit and Simonson) are promoting $100 million for broadband development, as recommended by the Task Force.

In the last month, the Blandin on Broadband blog has featured stories on the business and policy of broadband as well as relaying highlights from the Border to Border Broadband conference in early February:

• The Blandin Foundation has a number of grant opportunities for rural Minnesota communities looking to expand broadband.

• The FCC is looking to expand the Connect America Fund (CAF). The FCC is hosting an upcoming free webinar on March 19 to discuss details and eligibility.

• The FCC is also looking at investing an additional $2 billion over the next two years to support broadband networks in US schools and libraries.

• The US Department of Commerce is offering grants to support the implementation of regional economic development strategies. The deadline is March 14, 014.

• A Bemidji State University-led consortium wins a $500,000 grant from the USDA to expand distance learning and telemedicine opportunities for rural northern Minnesota residents.

• Dakota County shares an example of a broadband RFP (Request for Proposal) to investigate broadband development options; included is a list of deliverables.

Strategic Networks Group (SGN) unveiled a report that modeled a positive ROI for broadband expenditures for deployment and adoption in two Minnesota communities.