I’m on the way home from the Broadband Task Force meeting. The morning was spent working on and eventually approving the report that is due this fall. The report details what’s happening around the state and offers some recommendations. Another report will be due near the need of the year. I’ve tried to include the draft recommendations, discussion on the recommendation and results. The list of recommendations was whittled down considerably – many items being extended to the next report.
The also heard from Michelle Landsverk at Impact 20/20 – a great group focused on improving education, workforce and broadband in Northeast Minnesota AND Jack Geller, who gave a presentation on broadband adoption in terms of adoption curve and consideration of wireless access.
10:00-10:15 – Welcome/Public Comments/Approve Minutes
Thief River Falls is a town with 8900 jobs and 8500 people. Houses sell in 30-40 days. It’s like Lake Woebegone without the lake. Northland College (where we are meeting) is set on former Native American dancing grounds. It was a place for meetings and celebrations. About 15 years ago the president of the college got archeological folks to inspect the local area.
10:15-10:30 – Host Welcome (Northland Community and Technical College)
Northland College meets a wide range of students’ needs. Non-traditional ages. New Americans from Minneapolis are coming from healthcare programs. Healthcare is a big program. Aviation mechanics is another program, especially in last 3-4 years. Liberal Arts is big as in every community college. Athletics is a big program that draws students in. We have about 2800 FYE.
We work with UMD and Feds on unmanned aerial programs. We were only college in the world to graduate people in that program last year. And those folks were really recruited for jobs after graduation.
10:30-12:30 – Review final September report draft (working lunch if needed)
Meeting minutes approved.
Open meeting law requires that only people in the room can vote on anything. So the three people on the phone will not be able to vote.
Margaret and Joanna may be able to talk to folks in the Governor’s office. So it makes sense to highlight some of the incentives in the report to those folks.
Going Through the Report – this is the State of the State of Broadband Report. There is another report scheduled, which I understand will include more recommendations.
There are 21 pages of the report and the appendix. (I’ve tried to take notes based on the report on the screen and the discussion. Some abbreviations have been used out of necessity.)
Pg 1 – Introduction – mostly names and roles
P 2 – Committees and leaders
This report provides the following information
- Updates broadband availability
- Summary of subgroup activities
- Specific recommendations
- Materials compiled by subcommittees
Percent of households availability of BB At least 10Mbps down and 6 Mbps up
- Oct 2011 – 57.4%
- April 2012 – 59.92%
Pg4 – Locations Subgroups – talks about where meetings have taken place et al
Pg 5- – Coordination Across Government Levels Subgroup
Dig Once/ROW/Permitting Issues in MN
- Group has focused on Dig Once policy (Exec Oder 13161) and how it might be applied in MN to advance BB build out in un/underserved areas.
- Working with Association of Counties and Cities
- It’s a topic of MN and national interest
- We have recommendations to further the dialog
DIALOG ON THE ISSUE
Pg 6 – Best Practices/Incentives
Group has reviewed what’s happening in other areas to spur broadband deployment & has organized legislative panel
Pg 7 – State of Broadband – Survey, Research, Data group
- Using County survey from Connect MN
- Talking to folks who are working on surveys such as
- Center for Rural Policy
- American University
Bill, Diane, and Joanna have been sending surveys to counties to learn about initiatives in the county, whether bb is being used as economic development tool, how county is using broadband to deliver services, what resources the county may be aware of and are there partnerships with other local governments. It might not lead to specific conclusions but should give an overview of what’s happening in difference counties. Some responses are thoughtful; some are not.
Maybe we could work on outreach to the counties that haven’t participated in the surveys.
Maybe we can work with economic development folks – EDAs, cities, townships et al.
Maybe we could do counties this year and survey EDA, cities et al next year. The counties do get the gaps between townships.
Pg 8 – Broadband Adoption
Current State of Adoption
- Overall adoption rate – 72%
- Low income – 47%
- Rural 61%
- Seniors – 32%
- African Americans 69%
- Disabled Pop – 45%
- Hispanics – 49%
Subgroup was established to identify what groups are actively promoting broadband adoption, existing broadband initiatives, economic impact, and strategies to expand broadband use.
Includes a list of groups that are promoting broadband adoption – ranges from libraries to PCs for People. Includes a list of broadband initiatives and ARRA grants.
List of groups doesn’t include C2C (Connect to Compete) – although it’s mentioned.
Add – “please contact us if you want to be added to the list”
It might be helpful to be more specific.
Does it make sense to include Ignite?
Can we include grants for communities that have received grants from outside the Feds too? For infrastructure and adoption?
It makes sense to include deployments in the making as well as completed projects. It would be nice to see a list of what’s happening in terms of seeing what models are being deployed.
Some things are more controversial – we don’t want this to be a lightning rod for someone to glom onto. The report needs to be sensitive and showing in the aggregate helps.
Maybe we need to create a central database of projects where folks could propose projects to be added.
Is the Dep of Commerce looking at any predictive models? It might be nice to have information on what the results would be if all projects in the ether came to fruition.
It would be nice to have info on the local and hyper local level what’s happening in terms of broadband. Then we could track what projects are working and what activities are working. And that info is important at the local level and well as in the aggregate.
This report is due on Friday so it can’t happen here – but maybe it can happen in the next year.
Predictive modeling might make sense – take a look at what CenturyLink is doing.
Maybe we need to be looking at this in terms of what is getting traction. See if C2C is working. See if the CenturyLink low income deals are helping. See if the Connection American Funds are making a difference. Maybe we need a list of trends we are watching.
There is a central repository of info that can be filtered based on search strategies.
We could include a little narrative on tracking trends – and plan to do that for December. But we don’t have money. Should Connect MN take this on? Should the Department of Commerce take this on? Is this happening at the Department? Is there someone who could do this?
The Department doesn’t have the money now.
Maybe we could turn this around and tell the governor we need resources to do this.
Local engagement is an indicator of broadband adoption success – maybe we need to come up with the list of necessary ingredients for success programs. Can’t do that now – but maybe for next report.
Case studies in the report might be helpful too.
Also we’ve heard – that training works well in some areas and not others. Why? Can we create that toolkit? One that gives options and talks about what works where and why?
We are identifying projects and ideas for the next report.
We need to include Greater MN Telehealth Initiative grant $5.4 million – maybe we could make that a thumbnail. Deer River Schools would be a nice thumbnail too.
These would be great stories for the December report. And we’ve been traveling to gather these stories.
There was a recent article on distance learning in Mankato State on KSTP. It was inferior to Deer River. We should be blowing horns for the best programs.
There’s a table of all ARRA projects. How do we make sure that people can see that these projects listed are either labeled clearly at ARRA funded projects? And/or how should be focus on adoption-only. How to we cater to very political readers? Are we planning to list all of the ARRA projects or just the ones listed now?
[Ann’s note: I realized it might be helpful to see the list that’s generated so much discussion. I’m transcribing below.]
- Comm. Service for the Deaf
- Connected Nation
- Carver County
- Merit Network
- Mission Economic Development Agency
- One Economy
- Portland State U
- Regents of U of M
- University Corp for Advanced Internet Development
PG 11 –
Economic Impact of Broadband – Looks like a list of info on economic impact stats and reports
Strategies to Expand Broadband Adoption –
Pg 13 – a map on broadband adoption in Minnesota (from Connect MN)
Pg 14 – Calls out activities of subgroup:
- County Internet, Phone and Cable Directory
- Online Broadband Awareness Site – bought two domain names for the site
Let’s highlight these efforts even more as these are actual actions and not just talking about planning action.
Maybe we can give the model directories to groups such as the Association of Counties.
The FTTH Council is also creating a toolkit.
Pg 15 – Monitor/Understand Impact of FCC/PUC Decisions; Cost of Broadband Subgroup
Members were asked to share research, white papers, position statements, etc that would assist in interpreting and understanding FCC decisions impacting broadband
There are no concerns.
Pg 16 – Specific Policy Recommendations
Anything that got a vote in our group was added to the recommendations list. The lists are prioritized. [Ann’s note – numbers indicate voted received.]
- Increase funding to public lib and schools for computer stations and Internet access (3)
- Scholarship dollars for broadband access for students (3)
- Tax credits extended for residential education tax deductions (3)
- Reinstate the designated per-pupil technology funds that were in place in recent years (1)
- Ask for state scholarships for university students willing to work with digital inclusion efforts – become mentor (1)
If these are to be considered for this year – we need to push them now.
Discussion on #3
- The recommendations are not to increase use of residential tax credits – but to shift some of it.
- Low income households do not itemize – so some credits may be left on the shelf. But while it’s means-tested, the means are higher than some other credits.
- We need to know what the costs might be – as someone will ask about that. Pretend someone made $80,000. They had two smartphones. Does that qualify for the tax credit?
- Legislators are down on expansion of tax credits overall. They are moving away from per pupil funding.
- But the state created this category to upgrade infrastructure. It expired 2 years ago. Superintendents like that kind of money because it can’t be touched for other initiatives.
- There is energy around online learning and devices. Energy around connectivity would be helpful too.
- It’s nice to see there’s energy in other groups.
- We don’t want to see people misspend the money.
- We might add the word additional.
We can include many of these items asis – but we need to cost out so many before we actually recommend these.
Discussion on #5
- Let’s leave off #5. It’s interesting but doesn’t have an existing path to follow so we need to flesh it out more.
- Although it was done in Winona. In 2000, we found that seniors were not adopting. So we developed Byte Buddies that paired college students with seniors to mentor on use of technology. Those students got private scholarships.
- But maybe that’s still too out there for the State. Better at the community level maybe?
- Maybe we can hold it now – learn more – flesh it out and perhaps add it in the future. We can talk about it in the December Report.
- We’re going to come back to language since we’re running out of time.
Might be helpful to call out recommendations based on reader role.
Except that we do serve the Governor – so that needs to be our frame.
Need to be specific about which students get support (#4 I think)
This sort of program exists in OH; we could look there.
- Provide tax credit or grants to incent bb providers to build in unserved areas (5)
- Extending the central office equipment to the purchase of fiber optics and broadband equipment (6)
- A program or mechanism that would coordinate rural broadband installation
- Coordinate with Connect MN to provide target areas that are not served an keep these areas in the forefront of the state’s efforts
- Align state department of Revenue deprecations schedules with the federal IRS
- Align state capital gains tax schedule with federal gain schedule
- Implement formal process (see dig once) to coordinate state highway construction
- Develop a database similar to the Califromnica Fiber Collaboration Database.
Should we include anything after the second recommendation?
Can we incorporate 1 and 4? What are we coordinating with Connect MN now? Nope -
Number one seems like the most important.
We need to make sure that this doesn’t look like the State is telling providers where they need to go next.
- Provide incentive for rural sites that collaborate together for broadband projects, telehealth services interoperability and info exchange. This might be a grant program or payment incentive (2)
- Provide scholarship assistance for healthcare IT workforce training (3)
- Incent use of mobile devices, personal health records and e-visits (1)
- Incent redundancy initiatives between profit and non-profit entities (1)
Nonprofits get funding – making it difficult to include for profits.
Maybe we can make #1 grants.
Who would give out the scholarships?
Maybe Department of Health? There is a national effort that ends this year.
Maybe we want to model the state program on the national.
Let’s keep #1 and shelve the others.
- Facilitate public/private partnerships designed to deliver free or discounted computers to disadvantaged K12 children in MN - referencing program from Connect Kentucky Computers4Kids (3)
- Create and/or provide more information about programs to increase home broadband adoption (Such as CenturyLink/Comcast low income options) (1)
- Mandate that all state, city and county governments donate used computers to reuse programs.
- Telecommuting Tax Credit – companies get up to $1200 tax credits for each telework employee
- Recommend the state support and promote free or low-cost computer technology and training (3)
- Encourage the legislature to consider public/private partnership models to make funding available for technology training, production and adoption in the community at the margins of technology.
- Conduct assessment for list of organizations who are currently working with broadband access
- Consider establishing a broadband policy for the state similar to Connect ME HP1174 (2010) – the law promotes policies to maximize sustainable private investment in broadband infrastructure, to maximize federal grant resources and private investment in broadband infrastructure, to maximize
#3 – mandate is not a good word. Maybe we suggest. Or maybe just commit to providing info on how to reuse
Recycling programs need to look at what computers are usable.
There’s an ecosystem of business around recycling and reusing computers.
One of the biggest barriers to adoption is access to a computer. No one is going to pass a law on this – but it might be something we can take to leaders to think about how to get around this.
Let’s shelve #3
Many states have recommendations on a standing broadband office – do we want to add that somewhere?
It was in the first report – we added it last time
#4 is a tough sell as legislators are getting away from tax credits.
Let’s shelve #4
Let’s shelve some of the lower priority items – #5-8.
We need to create language that indicates that this is not an exhaustive list.
Maybe we get rid of the line about preparing 2013 session.
Maybe we just soften that up.
Should we include a bullet point on a broadband office? The Task Force is not a commission. An office might get more buy in. We could pull out the item from 2009 report.
We’ll work on the language and I promise you won’t be upset.
DRAFT IS APPROVED – ADOPTED SEPTEMBER REPORT
12:30-1:00 – Michelle Landsverk from Impact 20/20 http://www.impact2020.org/
Impact 20/20 – a group of leaders working for area economic success. We looked at models that built economy. We looked at the Itasca Project – it’s getting business leaders to focus on the community.
Often we gather folks who are mid-range people in a business – but they don’t have the power to make big decisions. Having the top people in the room has made a difference.
We have a good cross sector of people at the table – edu, bus, nonprofit…
We work on:
Education – two goals
- increase number of on-time graduates
- increase students completing post-secondary education
We helped to develop a plan and connected schools with resources. We have 6 pilot projects under way. (Get more info: http://www.impact2020.org/education.html)
Workforce – one goal – increase/support mid-level 21st century management skills
Surveyed local employers to get more specific. Worked with Higher Ed organizations to create and offer classes. http://www.impact2020.org/workforce.html
Broadband – two goals
- All communities of 500 residents or greater meet State goals
- USF need to include broadband service
Developed the case for broadband in NW Minnesota. We didn’t want to deploy broadband; not our role. We looked at speeds in 12 counties. At the time counties were only at 24% of desired goal; only 8% of upload speeds. We had 3600 households without access. We sent out 10,000 surveys.
Get more info: http://www.impact2020.org/broadband.html
What were some of the actions you saw communities take post discussion on broadband?
It’s been more informal – such as conversations with providers or going after funding.
Part of how Impact 20/20 works is that they are working with high school grad rates – and part of that is using technology to help with homework and for parents to track progress. Also technology is a big part of workforce. So broadband has been the solution – not the issue.
John Stannoch on the original task force spoke about the providers’ commitment to improvement and it seems as if the Impact 20/20 is a great example!
1:00-1:45 – Jack Geller from the UofMN/Crookston
Shifting from Adoption and Utilization and the Rise of Mobile Internet.
- In 2012 – it may not be about computers. We need to think about how people access broadband. This will play a role in policy!!
- Growth in broadband adoption will be organic. The economy or increased access or older folks moving on will be reasons for organic growth.
- Low income residents may be a crowd that are ripe for intervention – when intervention might spur growth
So what is the most effective use of resources?
- Helping current users maximize use of broadband may yield greater results.
Price will continue to be a barrier.
Data caps will also be a barrier.
Two main points:
- Further increases in adoption will be limited as we get closer to the end of the adoption curve
- Mobile broadband is already too diffused throughout the population for state and federal agencies to ignore; and should be integrated into our strategies to ensure ubiquitous access to broadband
If people are using smartphones – do we need to start presenting information in that format?
The U of M is behind the curve – but changes are happening.
How should we be including this?
Having smartphones in rural areas is not enough.
We need the best thinking on where things are going. Maybe we need to talk about 3G not being enough.
Maybe we need to talk to the folks who we feel are disenfranchised and see if they feel disenfranchised.
Maybe we need to look at different type of connections and what is inherent in each (such as looking at latency) and creating a map of what’s available where.
Communities leaping over wired technologies – are often disadvantaged. They don’t have computers but is that a barrier to getting some tasks done?
1:45-2:00 – Public comments
2:00-2:15 – Other business/Upcoming meetings
2:15-2:30 – Drive to Digi-Key
The tour of Digi-Key was really interesting and inspiring. I am hoping to incorporate notes from the tour in a different way so won’t post today.
Next meeting – Tuesday October 16 at the McNally School of Music.