Hosted by Steve Kronmiller, Scandia City Councilmember
When I ran for City Council in 2016, I learned lack of reliable internet was a concern for many in Scandia.
In April 2017, I formed the Internet Focus Group, an informal group of computer experts in Scandia to figure out how to get everyone in Scandia access to internet. Our goal was to recommend a plan to the City Council to ensure everyone in Scandia has access to reliable, cost-effective, high-speed internet. Charter members of the Focus Group were:
In March 2018, we reached out and recieved a grant from the Blandin Community Broadband Resources Program for 30 hours of free consulting services. Bill Coleman, a well respected broadband consultant, was assigned to help us understand what could be done. With help from Bill and the Blandin Foundation, we launched a Community Survey, performed a Feasibility Study to determine the potential cost of expansion, and sent an RFP out to 8 ask internet service providers asking for expansion proposals.
Initially, only Frontier and CTC sent in responses. MidCo did not. So, I met with MidCo at State Representative Bob Dettmer's office in St Paul. With help from Rep. Dettmer and Bill Strusinski, we convinced MidCo to submit a proposal.
After getting elected, Patty Ray and her partner John Carney joined the Focus Group in 2019. Patti aragued to select MidCo's Fixed Wireless and Hybrid Coax proposal, with no committment to serve the whole City. The other members wanted to learn more about CTC's proposal to serve the whole City with a Fiber to the Premise solution that was very expensive.
I liked CTC's proposal, but argued the City could not afford it as presented. I also struggle with the unwillingnes, from MidCo, to publicaly support our goal of expanding internet to everyone in Scandia.
Ultimately, the City Council chose to partner with MidCo on a DEED Grant to expand internet to 219 homes.
Believing the Focus Group would struggle to work with MidCo, I asked the Mayor to established an official City sponsored committee to replace the grass-roots Internet Focus Group.
Patti Ray and I both drafted charters for the new committee. We then worked together and agreed on a charter for approval by the Council. The Internet Action Committee (IAC) charter was adopted by the City Council and the Committee held it's first meeting in December 2019. Patty and I were co-committee liasions until she left the Council at then end of 2022. I am still the Council Liaison, and Patti has joined the committee and an official member.
Information about the IAC and the work it is doing can be found on the official City Website.
As of July 1, 2023, there were 1,261 addressed parcels with reliable internet service, MidCo plans to expand to 93 in 2023-24, and there are 20 more that we hope will recieve DEED Line Extansion Grands for expansion by MidCo in 2024 as well.
This has been a long process, and we still have 439 addresses to go. Your support has been greatly appreciated!
Please take time to look at the Interactive Map, Timeline, and Q&A pages:
You can also click on the button below to send me an email.