Senator Klobuchar Broadband Summit – full notes

Senator Klobuchar’s Broadband Summit was a far cry from the Public FCC Hearing last week. There were a lot more suits today, although about 250 people as opposed to 700 last week. There were a number of the same people – but certainly not a complete overlap by any means. I recognized more faces today, which means these were people who have been involved with and/or have been following broadband for a while.

The focus today was more on how the government can and is supporting broadband expansion through adoption and deployment programs. We heard from some folks who have received ARRA funding and some folks who are hoping to get the call in the next couple of weeks.

Some definite themes emerged, such as the importance of broadband in terms all aspects of life, the need for public-private partnership the advantage of focusing on win-win strategies such as supporting broadband adoption and the importance of setting broadband goals to make broadband a priority.

Chairman Genachowski ended by reminding attendees that while broadband seems like a burning issue at a broadband summit that it’s not necessarily a top priority for most people or most politicians. We need to continue to talk about it to raise awareness.

Ironically my post is slow to come today because it has taken almost 10 hours for my 40 minutes or so of video to upload to YouTube. So I’m feeling the pain of inadequate broadband. But it does allow me to link to folks who have already written about today’s event:

Read on for more notes on the event or check out video clips online.

Senator Amy Klobuchar

The Internet is the infrastructure issue of our time. We need to expand to rural areas & to lower costs. Right now broadband is too slow and too expensive.

Broadband will bring jobs.

The US ranks 23 for access, speed and availability. We need to think and move forward.

We need an agenda for innovation
We need education for our kids
Need policies to support tech transfer
We need broadband to support edu, business & innovation in the US.

It’s not a matter of IF we get broadband it’s when.

To move forward we need:

  1. Openness
  2. Support for business AND Net Neutrality
  3. Investment for public-private partnership

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski

High speed internet is as important our century as electricity was in the 20th. Investment in BB means jobs

Broadband isn’t a problem; it’s a solution to other problems – especially in rural America

OECD ranks US as 18 – that’s not good.

Other metrics related to innovation & competitiveness – we ranked 6th. In the same study The US ranked 40th (bottom) in rate of change.

Standing still is falling behind.

Cost of digital exclusion is rising. More job postings are moving online. 75 percent of folks post jobs online only. A small business needs to be online or you will be at a disadvantage.

Some folks don’t have broadband access – 24 million Americans

Only 60 percent use it; that’s 90 percent in Singapore

We need more funding for broadband.

Comments on the National BB Plan

  • Mobile bb – we need it and we want broadband at the desk and in the field; we need to tackle the spectrum crunch.
  • We need to lower cost of broadband deployment – tower citing, dig once
  • We need to transform USF ($8 million/year) to support broadband
  • We need to expand the pilot project to get rural healthcare facilities on broadband
  • We need to reform E-rate – to work for school & community
  • We need a mobile, secure network for first responders/public safety

Bernadine Joselyn, Director of Public Policy and Engagement, Blandin Foundation

Rick King, VP and COO for Thompson Reuters & Chair, Minnesota Broadband Task Force

We’ve seen what’s possible with innovation. A smart workforce and the infrastructure to support them will be a winning combination.

The TF goals for 5 years are set to be world leaders; we’re not there yet.

MN ranks about 23 when it comes to speeds. That’s not even “well above average”. We heard some folks say our goals were too high, others said it was too low. In some ways hearing from both sides made us feel that we were in the right ballpark.

We set minimum thresholds too – shooting for ubiquitous goals! We need ubiquity.

Healthcare and education are two of the greatest opportunities. Broadband can transform them by providing more for less.

Job growth is linked to broadband – by 2.5 times. And jobs will be created through the ARRA developed. So far, $140 million has come into the state through the ARRA.

Why does Thomson Reuters care?
We care because of our employees. We’d like for them to be able to work from home.
We’d like to bring other tech companies into the area – to foster economic development.
We need business a continuity plan. If something happens in the office, we still need to be able to carry on. We need competition and redundancy.

Pam Lehmann, Director, Lac qui Parle EDA

(Read Pam’s comments)

Tim Lovaasen, President, Minnesota Communications Workers of America

When I started with the phone company, we were pushing touchtone. We’ve come a long way.

At the time we felt we were the greatest phone company (AT&T). We were the best. We provided dial-tone to everyone – sometimes on a party system. In 1973, we moved to private lines. People wanted better phone – but not at the price. It sounds familiar.

Maybe we don’t need things to be superfast right away. We can build in steps.

Things changed at the phone. Divestiture created competition but it meant AT&T was no longer number one. One problem was that AT&T was not allowed to go into cable. Fast forward a number of years and now my parents in Vergas now get IPTV at 17Mbps.

The different technologies get different treatment and that’s a problem. We need the following:
1. Make clear that USF can be spent on broadband and used for low income households.
2. FCC Open principles are law of the land. Do not prevent users from sending/receiving legal content.
3. Make sure ISP have transparency in network management and acceptable use policies.
4. Do not allow ISP to make unlawful and/or discriminatory deals.
5. Support minority involvement in telecommunications.

Bruce Kerfoot, President and Owners, Gunflint Lodge Grand Marais, MN

This is our third economic strata – we needed roads, electricity and now broadband. We’re at the same threshold.

Planning a vacation, I was able to make a reservation for a room in Italy in two minutes. Unfortunately the folks in Europe can’t book a room with me at all. 50 percent of the visitors in Banff are from Japan – they can book those reservations online. We’re missing that boat. Finland has made broadband a right. And they mean real broadband – not the broadband that providers sell us here. What providers bill as broadband here is better than dialup – but it’s not broadband. It doesn’t meet our needs.

In Grand Marias we have very slow dialup. We have satellite, but we run through capacity and it’s not fast enough. That’s it.

We have schools that are online – but the students can’t necessarily get online to do homework. We have a huge gap.

Most people use credit cards –that is usually telecommunicated instantly – but when the connection is intermittent that causes a problem. People can’t buy when they want. People can’t even get their fishing licenses.

We need a national commitment to get broadband. We’ve got a middle mile grant in our area – we’re hoping to hear about last mile access. Without it we are becoming second class citizens.
(The Duluth Tribune News just ran an article on Bruce Kerfoot and his strives to get broadband to the area.)


If you were Glinda the good witch and you could wave a wand, how would you get us to where we need to be?

JG: Make the deficit go away. Print money.

One of our challenges is that building out the infrastructure if expensive. Building out rural areas is even more expensive.

Continuing to talk about outcomes we want helps to build it as a national priority.

I have hope that we can start with win-wins – such as broadband adoption. The more people adopt, the more the economic model improves and over time that helps.

Deployment – we need to tackle the USF. We need to find a way to infuse capital into the fund.

The BB Plan is ambitious – but there’s a rural gap – why?

JG We set ambitious goals for everywhere. Parts of the country that rely on USF we will commit to service but cost comes into the picture when we’re looking at areas that will be using government money. So we looked at consumer usage and international standards and came up with 4 Mbps.

Should local governments create more buying co-ops?

JG Yes. That’s a win-win. We need to identify barriers – such as cost – and find ways to overcome them – such as buying co-ops. Finding ways to encourage the roll out and demand for new technologies will also be important. So working through the kids to get at home use is a good way to start it.
We’re working on ideas that will spur some.

BJ – in MN we’re well positioned to move on that strategy. The TF recommendations really emphasized public-private partnerships. Pam (LqP) is an example of how well that can work.

Do you support Net Neutrality?

JG – The Internet was developed with an open architecture. It’s led to tremendous innovation. Should consumers be able to access the content they want? Yes. Should providers be transparent? Yes.

What happens to local TV stations that will lose their spectrum?

We have an opportunity around wireless. Innovation is happening in that area – but there’s congestion and dropped calls. We can lead the world in wireless. One big challenge is that demand for wireless spectrum use will exceed the supply. So we need to create a plan for long term spectrum management. We need to free up more spectrum for wireless.

We suggested incentive auctions in the National BB Plan. It’s a potential win-win.

More of the investment has been for rural and unserved areas. Other countries are making investments in urban areas too – and what about the suburbs and inner city?

JG: Some places have a lot of competition and not serving other areas as well.

Korea is 98 percent covered w/broadband. They found a way to get coverage – we should be able to learn from them. We have similar terrain – but they’ve had a policy that said it was important.

Having a plan and a direction is a great first step. It helps funnel investment. It helps people plan.

A lot of rural areas need telephone, need emergency services – that means there’s an opportunity to kill multiple birds with one stone. While you’re creating an emergency network, open it up.

The city infrastructure is reliant on competition – bringing in more employers that require broadband will help raise that bar and build that infrastructure. Businesses can get broadband – we need to increase those businesses and then we can work on expansion.

TL – Most of the issue is financial. The CWA has said that we need to put money aside for education of how to use the Internet and to help people purchase computers.

People believe competition is good – but the problem is that companies go into areas with high ROI – not the other unserved areas. In some areas competition has stretched resources. In rural areas, collaboration will help.

When will the money go out?

The USDA is giving out the money. So we’ll need to ask them.

How can we promote education/digital literacy?

PL Get to the basics – define broadband. People who aren’t using computers need to be educated and that will take time. We’re working on classes in LqP and have been offering them for 3 years. We are unveiling the Computer Commuter tomorrow.

How can citizens make the case for broadband?

BK Have kids – they will drag the parents into the online world.

People on the end of the wires aren’t stupid. We’re ready to roll and we have folks who want to be online. We just need to be unified in our efforts to get heard.

RK – People need to visualize themselves using technology – that’s why healthcare is such a good example. We all want to get access to the Mayo without leaving our chair – broadband can help make that possible. We picked a lower cap of 10 Mbps for rural areas because that will accommodate remote transition of x-rays.

Pubic Safety – can we get more info?

JG The need for an interoperable mobile, public safety network is vital. We haven’t made as much progress as we should have since 9/11. We’re building out commercial 4G to piggyback on that with a network for first responders will be cheaper and faster. We are doing that with ERIC (in National Broadband Plan.)

Final Comments

This entry was posted in Blandin Foundation, Conferences, FCC, MN, Policy, Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

3 thoughts on “Senator Klobuchar Broadband Summit – full notes

  1. Pingback: MN Broadband Summit – An Eyewitness Account | Poking Around with Mary

  2. I’ve seen some nice ripples started with the Klobuchar meeting last week. I wanted to share links to a few articles I saw over the weekend:

    The Bemidji Pioneer says: Providing broadband access to rural America can help create the economic development needed to turn the economy around, especially in rural areas.

    U-reka Broadband challenges the industry wonks… So here is my challenge to all of you-step out of our industry box and get someone not involved in broadband to understand the issues and necessity for ubiquitous coverage. Once the general public starts screaming for these services then we will have a platform to make true change.

    MinnPost does a nice comparison of the Klobuchar meeting with the FCC Public Hearing held the week before, quoting Rick King: “We are not there,” King said at the summit on Tuesday. We are not even close. But we are making progress.

    Poking Around picks up on Genachoski’s advice: In his introductory remarks Chairman Genachowski reminded attendees that, urgent as the issue, it’s not priority #1 with most people or their elected representatives.

  3. Pingback: Senator Klobuchar on broadband « Blandin on Broadband

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