Broadband Communities

AUG-SEP 2014

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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34 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2014 COMMUNITY BROADBAND Five Models For Community Broadband Cities and counties in Minnesota have followed several approaches to providing fber broadband for their residents and businesses. By Christopher Mitchell and Lisa Gonzalez / Institute for Local Self-Reliance I n 2010, Minnesota set ambitious statewide goals for universal Internet access: By 2015, everyone should have access to download speeds of 10 Mbps to 20 Mbps and upload speeds of 5 Mbps to 10 Mbps. Te state is not on track to meet those goals. Tough most residents of the Twin Cities have access to at least the minimum standard of 10 Mbps down, fewer than half of households in Greater Minnesota [outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area] have such access. A signifcant number of Greater Minnesota households are still relegated to the horse-and- buggy days of dial-up, and many more have access only to slow DSL connections that do not meet the Federal Communications Commission goals for basic broadband (4 Mbps/1Mbps). Aside from creating a task force and setting goals, the legislature and recent governors have taken a hands-of approach to expanding Internet access. Where broadband access has expanded in recent years, government has often been involved. Federal programs ofer a variety of loans and ongoing subsidies for Internet access, mostly to private companies and cooperatives in rural areas. Frustrated by the reluctance of incumbent phone and cable companies to signifcantly upgrade their networks, a growing number of counties and towns have begun building their own networks. Tis article focuses on some of the strategies local governments have embraced to improve Internet access for local businesses and/or residents. Te counties of Lac qui Parle and Sibley entered into public-private partnerships with cooperative entities. Lac qui Parle partnered with an existing telephone cooperative and Sibley with a newly created broadband cooperative. Scott County frst connected anchor institutions such as schools, municipal facilities and public safety communication towers and later expanded the network to drive economic development. Windom and Monticello, by contrast, built their own citywide FTTH networks. Local governments have a continuum of options that range from enabling other providers to building and operating their own citywide networks. Because each community has diferent needs and preexisting assets, any decision about how to expand access must be made at the local level by those who will have to live with the consequences. LAC QUI PARLE COUNTY Home to 7,000 Minnesotans, Lac qui Parle County borders South Dakota. Madison, the Editor's note: Tis article was adapted from a report published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. You can read the full report at www.ilsr.org/minnesota-local-governments-advance-super-fast-internet-networks/.

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