Yesterday I joined the East Central Minnesota Regional Broadband Summit in Hinckley. It was a full room of community and business leaders, public sector folks and providers from five counties: Aitkin, Carlton, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, and Pine Counties. I tried to take pretty good notes and videos both to help folks in the area keep up on what’s happening but also so that it could serve as a model to others.
I have just a few broad comments. First, it was great to see a regional approach. It helps ensure that geographic gaps get covered; it creates more opportunity for economies of scale. I was impressed with my friends and colleagues (Bernadine Joselyn and Bill Coleman) who helped local leaders take the reins in planning and agreeing to help lead deployment of broadband initiatives. There was a sense that the people best able to take charge were the people in the room.
I applaud the providers who attended. In a break out session I attended the providers were frank in saying that part of the problem is communication. No commercial provider wants to share their strategic plan with competitors (understandably) – but unfortunately that leaves customers in the dark too. I heard that in another break out session plans were made to work on communication in terms of determining what the providers need to move forward to provide better broadband.
In the end, the group walked away with seven good umbrella ideas – each had legs and a head to push forward…
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