Telecommunications Regulation and Infrastructure Division
Eagan City Hall
October 17, 2007
There was a packed house at Eagan City Hall to participate in a legislative hearing on broadband. The hearing was organized by the GIG group at the request of Rep. Sandy Masin. There were nine legislators in attendance which was great!
Mayor Mike Maguire led off the session with a description of how the City of Eagan has been working aggressively to understand and improve its telecommunications infrastructure and services. He said that telecommunications are a pillar of economic growth, comparable in importance to Eagan’s interstate highways, sewer and water. He described how he had heard from businesses about the difficulty in getting broadband in certain locations in Eagan, how over 5000 residents had responded to a community survey and how telecommunications is a key site consideration for large and small businesses.
Rick King, COO of Thomson West, was the next speaker. Thomson West employs over 7,000 people in Eagan. Thomson’s internal network is 10Gb and Thomson has a connections to the Internet totally 2.5Gb. Mr. King defined ultra-high-speed Internet as 250 Mb. Thomson workers need to be able to work from home, either occasionally or on a regular basis and standard DSL and cable modems do not presently allow their workers to access all of their network applications. Mr. King emphasized that applications will develop to make use of enhanced bandwidth and compared US services to the Pacific Rim countries. Innovation will happen first where these services are increasingly available, not here in the US.
Dr. Tim Lance, CEO of NYSERNET in New York, described their educational network that was built in partnership with the private sector. They operate a 300 Gb network. He is an active participant in Educause, a national advocacy group. They believe that network investments should be: 1) open, secure, reliable and scalable, 2) reasonably priced, and 3) 100 Mb minimum.
Other speakers included:
- Tom Salonek, owner of an Eagan business focusing on training, described the growing demand of companies to receive training online with real time video.
- Mack Lewis of MHTA and Sherpa Partners, summarized the MHTA position paper on broadband and emphasized that this is a global economy, that applications will emerge to utilize high speed networks and that this is a future global competitive issue.
- Tamara Rath of NWA talked about how broadband impacts three audiences: employers who need employees to work from home regularly or occasionally and for the delivery of employee training to employees’ homes; consumers who will need to access highly interactive web services, including NWAs; and communities who need a competitive advantage.
- Shirley Walz, also of Thomson West, presented a summary of what other states are doing to promote broadband. This information is on the gig group web site.
- JoAnne Johnson of Frontier Communications emphasized the need for collaboration, talked about their new wi-fi initiative in Burnsville and discussed state initiatives and federal legislation. Representative Junhke talked about legislation that he will propose for the mapping of broadband.
- Andrea Casselton of the City of St. Paul, emphasized the need to look at broadband and fiber as a necessary utility.
- Mark Erickson of Hiawatha Broadband promoted an active role for government in broadband deployment.
- Mark Oberlander of the PUC discussed existing state statutes regarding telecom and broadband.
All in all, it was a very interesting meeting. There were many telecom company representatives in the audience to listen.
For another take on the meeting you can visit the Pioneer Press article (Eagan leads state in quest for high-speed Internet access) you need an account but registration is free. Or the Minnesota House of Representative’s daily newsletter.