Earlier today I attended a broadband listening session in Faribault hosted by Farm Foundation, NTCA, CoBank, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp. and USDA.
The morning was divided into three sessions:
- E-Connectivity Needs in the Upper Midwest with Bill Esback (Wisconsin State Telecom Association) and Steve Fenske (Minnesota Association of Townships)
- Connecting Rural America with Danna Mackenzie (Office of Broadband Development), Kristi Westbrock (CTC) and Brian Zelenak (Mille Lacs Energy Coop)
- Update from DC with Jannine Miller (USDA)
I was able to record most of it and I’ll share my notes below ASIS. There were just a few moments I wanted to highlight.
Bill Esback spoke about CAF 2 – federal funding from the FCC that is used to build out broadband at speeds of 10 Mbps down and 1 up (10/1). A gentleman from Jaguar asked what the price cap carriers are putting into the ground. Esback said CenturyLink & Frontier are using DSL. AT&T is using fixed wireless. The follow up question was – why would the government want to fund a technology that’s already outdated? One upload will not be enough to push the technology up? Esbeck said it was a matter of resources – we did the possible, not the best.
Danna MacKenzie noted key pieces of the Minnesota broadband model – a model that at least 18 other states have looked at:
- The broadband TF
- Getting state speed goals in statute
- The state surplus made it easier to get funding.
- Establishment of the Office of Broadband Development – in economic development agency was helpful too
- State mapping
- Grants are helpful to encourage partnerships
An interesting recipe that other states want to follow. But more importantly in a year when the Task Force is scheduled to sunset and the funding wasn’t allocated – I think this could be a goal list for Minnesota. If we lose pieces of this roadmap, we may lose ground in being a national broadband leader.
Also I’m going to ask for a kind eye when you read the following more complete notes. After I left the meeting, we started the family drive to pick up a kid in Winnipeg. And we’re still on that drive. BUT I wanted to get these notes to people while it was still news. Continue reading