Minnesota Broadband Advisory Task Force November 17, 2010 – full notes

In today’s meeting we got a nice preview of the Connect Minnesota report. I took notes – but am not including the draft or detailed notes because I know they want to wow us with the finished project.

The rest of the meeting was really spent in small groups talking about how the draft they had written will be morphed into a report. The hope is to have the report approved at the next meeting, which is scheduled for December 15.

Chair Joanne Johnson has been kind enough to allow me to share the draft report – but I want to emphasize that it is draft. I think we’ll see much of the content in the next/final draft but probably in a very different form.

Here are the notes from the meeting…

The meeting was held at the following:

TIES Facility
1667 Snelling Avenue North, St. Paul, MN 55108
9:30 am to 3:00 pm

Introduction of guests and those on video or teleconference

Brent Atwood & Phillip Brown join us from Connected Nation
Dennis Fazio, Fazil Bhimani and I were the guests
There were no public remarks

Approval of Minutes of October 27, 2010 meeting – notes approved.

Work on report draft and additional assignments

Let’s talk about length and format

The executive summary is the most important piece

It might be fun to go back to the people who were quoted in the first report and get follow-ups for the new report sidebars.

A potential CORE QUESTION – how are we doing with the MN BB bill – how close to ubiquity and speed goals.

Maybe the Connected Nation maps will help – but the NTIA has asked CN to look at certain speeds and those are not the same as the MN goals.

Perhaps we’re not where we want to be – but there’s a lot going on. Maybe we can highlight some of the things that are happening. Our numbers may not be excellent- but our activity level is stellar. Later we can brainstorm some of the highlights.

Another CORE QUESTION – our audience is elected officials. We might want to describe the task force and why it exists. A heads up on what’s in the rest of the report.

This report is a checkup on the last report – not an entirely new report.

Let’s look at different sectors and how they are getting and using broadband.

The following might help format the new report

  1. Where we are right now
  2. What’s happening (in verticals)
  3. Where are we going

One challenge is that we didn’t have the same level of detail in the previous report. Although one challenge is that difference isn’t so remarkable that it will be highlighted in a map.

The CN report will be very helpful. Especially is there are commerce committees in the House and Senate that will be interested in the report.

Maybe this report should be the benchmark to use going forward.

Is there a place for research done locally? (Jack Geller’s report)

Report from Connected Nation (Phillip Brown and Brent Atwood)

The Task Force got a sneak preview of the CN report. I’ll include the Table of Contents from the draft:

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • The Broadband Adoption Gap
  • Connection Minnesota Broadband Inventory and Analysis
  • The National Broadband and the Minnesota Ultra High-Speed Broadband Resort: Policy Recommendations to Combat Availability and Adoption Gaps

The report also includes:

  • a list of participating and non-participating provides in Connect Minnesota’s Broadband Inventory (only 6 chose not to participate; others may not have gotten back to them yet)
  • great maps as we’ve seen from CN in the past
  • a table of household density, number of households, a percentage of households served (both with 768 Kbps and 3 Mbps definitions) by county.

There’s an interesting table that tracks households served based on a range of speeds – starting with 768 Kbps up to 100 Mbps.

Question: Do you think that small independents have had as much of an impact on average speeds being higher than other states as the population density (and providers) in the Twin Cities? (The answer is yes.)

Question: what is the spectrum availability in Minnesota? (They don’t have it.) Wildblue made a huge impact in IL until they ran out of room; we will want to allow folks to know that there are issues with spectrum.

At a recent conference here was a clash with moving to wireless and the availability of bandwidth.

Discussion on ISP participation. Some providers determine that they can’t afford the time to participate, some say legal reasons. Some just choose not to participate.

Do you think that the folks who haven’t gotten back might fall under the “too small to afford” category? (yes)

Do we have similar participation in other states? (yes) Could we give folks a heads up on their name being on the list to see if that encourages participation? (yes)

Is there any thought with the Feds that this might be a hardship for smaller folks to gather data? Perhaps they can offer assistance to the smaller folks? (no movement now – but it’s not out of the question later)

The NTIA does require ARRA recipients to share mapping info; RUS doesn’t. Ironically, the RUS funded a lot more infrastructure.

The overwhelming majority (95%) of unserved households are in rural areas.

The first goals is ubiquity – then moving up.

Question – in the report to you delve into USF? (They do provide broad info.) Where does it go? Who is eligible? Only a very specific group gets this money and we might want to make that clear.

Question – can you add info on how many new broadband subscribers will be served with ARRA funded projects? (Not available yet)

Question – isn’t there a Congressional meeting on privacy/security? (yes) So there might be a renewed interest in the topic.

Connect Iowa presentation put maps out on public institutions. Can we get that for MN? (It’s already available on the web site.)

They also look at price – average monthly price Minnesota residents pay for Internet service. Mostly I didn’t want to give away any info here but I had to share this date:

Average dialup monthly fee is $31.81 Home broadband monthly fee $46.36

More reports will be available 1st quarter 2011 – or at least close to it. It will be nice to see the more detailed survey results.

You can get a lot of the info from the report here: http://connectmn.org/research/ Again I don’t want to preview too much – but I think that link will help tell the tale.


Work on report draft and additional assignments (continued)

We will be breaking out into small groups – then perhaps plan for future meetings; although we will now more about the elections in December.

Security report & Future intent is from first report.


  1. Where are we today? (numbers)
  2. What’s going on today? (projects)
  3. Where are we aiming to be?

Each group will look at the whole report.


• I joined one group and will just bullet a few points that came up
• We want to lead with healthcare and edu since they get a lot of budget.
• The bulk of the report might live in the appendix
• The Task Force report will go to the Commissioner – he will give it to the Governor, House & Senate
• The Connect Nation report will also go to the Commissioner, Governor, House & State
• What about putting a tariff on dialup? That’s what they id to get rid of party lines. (The problem in that dialup is not a state issue.) But a goal towards making dialup obsolete might still be helpful.
• Is broadband a moving goal? (Not according to the MN BB Bill.)

Group check ins


We stuck with the original outline (approved from last meeting)

  • Cover
  • Intro
  • Exec Summary
    • 3 goals
    • Sig developments
    • Future directions
  • Background of numbers
  • Significant Developments
    • National BB Plan
    • Stimulus Funding
  • Work Plan/Future Directions
  • Appendix


Asked past Leg member – what he would like to see and decided that we’d keep it simple.
• Start with goals
• Executive Summary
• Appendices

We asked the “so what” question a lot.


We tried to fit the draft into the outline. Some of the info we wrote does fit into the outline – but not necessarily cleanly.

The history of edu is important especially in terms of funding levels.

Then we talked a lot about how to fit what we’ve done in terms of ubiquity.


Several of the groups talked about ubiquity. We can use some of the numbers provided by Connect Minnesota.

We need to see that progress is being made in a tough economy – and this is before the ARRA projects really hit the ground – well before they are lit.

We need this document to be a building block. We need to provide data so that we have a basis to move forward.

It might be nice to do mini-reports for Legislators, such as “broadband in Edu” – but it might have to keep until next year, when we have the whole year. In the meantime we have to draw a balance between time and what we want to do.


Let’s take a look at ARRA funding versus investment from the private sector. For example one company spends $19 billion per year (US, not MN) – average $125 million in MN.

We’re going to see some interesting times after the first of the year- when folks may look closer at what folks have done with stimulus money.

The ROI will be compromised when markets that were previously unserved find more competition.

Next meeting: December 15 (at TIES, decide time and agenda) The plan is to have a draft we can vote on at the meeting.

Assignments have been given to get task force members to edit the work in progress.


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

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

1 thought on “Minnesota Broadband Advisory Task Force November 17, 2010 – full notes

  1. Pingback: Monticello tops Minneapolis Broadband in cost and speed « Blandin on Broadband

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s