Minnesota Broadband Task Force Jan 24: Full Notes

Today I attended the Minnesota Broadband Task Force at TIES. They were finalizing their report to the Department of Commerce, which is an outline of what they plan to do to promote and support broadband expansion moving forward. The report is due at the end of the month.

Most of the time the group was focused on looking at a draft report that had been created by staff based on notes from the last meeting. The plan is to use these notes to create a final version of the report – and from the report they will create a spreadsheet of tasks to help guide their progress throughout the year. It sounds very similar to how the National Broadband Plan was rolled out.

To help track the discussion, in bold I have abbreviated the high level goal being discussed. These aren’t the official notes so I didn’t want to retype the whole document – but did want to provide enough context for the discussion to make sense – even if you weren’t there.

Read on for the full notes…

I. Greetings and Introductions 10:00 – 10:10

Audience: Dennis Fazio, Dave Frankel, Tim Johnson, Heather Rand, Ann Treacy , Brent Christiansen , Ann Higgins. Mike Martin, Tony Mendoza.

II. Approval of January 10, 2012 Minutes 10:10 – 10:20


III. Public Comments 10:20 – 10:30


IV. Discuss and Finalize Broadband Plan Outline 10:30 – 11:45

Goal is to go through document to turn in at end of month.

Any high level concerns:

  • The goals we have set are note achievable without taking steps. We need to recognize that these significant actions must take place if we need to meet our goals in the next few years.
  • Yes, let’s emphasize the sense of urgency.

Specific notes – these notes got very specific – so I’m going to try to provide context from the draft reports (highlights anyways) followed by discussion on those items.

  1. Pursue collaborative strategies to expand broadband use through advanced applications
  • The Commissioner asks that the Task Force try to have a plan in place by Dec 2012 – and that in the future, the reports will reflect back on these notes. The notes will be an action plan.
  • Let’s make sure that infrastructure is mentioned earlier in the report. It is the call in the executive order. Also makes sense organizationally.
  • Let’s consider using more active verbs – forget about exploring, instead use promote.
  • How many dates do we want to specify in the report?
  1. There are 4-5 spaces where we can add space. We’ll at least need to prioritize those dates.
  2. We might not need to include a timeline – but it might be helpful internally.
  3. Actually, let’s include a timeline in the appendix and remove the dates in the document.

Create & maintain an up-to-date public-facing information dashboard describing progress towards reaching the state ubiquitous goals

  • Who is currently tracking progress towards goals?
  1. ConnectMN is currently tracking some resource. Although ConnectMN is not tracking success stories or including info such as conferences.
  2. Are we trying to target the consumer?
  3. Consumers, policymakers, anyone…
  4. Who is our target audience? We could better define that? Well we don’t want to limit the definition.
  5. One of our charges is to gather best practices.
  6. We also need to step back to see which of these makes sense –and where we might use our resources best.
  7. We need to discuss this next time and be honest about how much time we can spend pursuing some of these things. We can draw from DEED for help too. We could also look outside of government for help.
  • Shouldn’t we try to find places where we have one provider too – not just unserved and underserved areas?
  1. We find in the communities having one provider can also be an indicator of underserved areas.

Dig once – coordinate infrastructure construction projects with broadband projects

  • We made some changes. Do we want to single out Dakota County at this point? It’s nice to know there are leaders – but maybe we want to be more general.
  • Also do we want to propose legislation?
    • Might want to add date here.
    • How about Jan 2013.

Evaluate and determine the funding resources necessary in order to reach the broadband goals and methods for funding.

  • Maybe we want to say identify instead of determine. Maybe add suggest.
  • Maybe we can create a bundle/packet of info.
  • We might broaden that to include options other than tax incentives.
  • In fact we might broaden the suggestion even more – otherwise it does seem like we’re focused on 3-4 specific suggestions.
  • Can we talk to someone in Revenue to get specifics?
  • Maybe we can get into specifics later.

Promote current broadband mobilization efforts and fund ways to incent formal community planning.

  • Why are we focusing on counties? Shouldn’t we include everyone at the community level?
  • Focusing efforts does give us a finite group to survey.
  • We might consider using land use management structure. It gives us a ready-made structure.
    • How would that work in practice? Could we survey folks based on that structure?
    • We’d need to check on that.
    • Let’s note that we need better language.
    • We refer to support – who will support?
      • We were thinking moral support.
      • So maybe we go with encouragement.
      • But everything we suggest is not necessarily going to be done by the Task Force or the State – we want to coordinate efforts and tap into a wide range of resources.
      • The state has been supportive – but not financially. Maybe we want to say promote.

Examine best practices

  • Let’s review legislation as well.

Focus on adoption issues

  • Does the Task Force want to evaluate programs?
  • We want to collect and share more than evaluate.
  • Maybe the Task Force can shift from “taking steps” to “identifying steps”
  • Maybe we want to get presentations on adoption and can we catalog that info?
  • Next meeting we will talk about how to turn this outline into a spreadsheet that will track out success.
  • Will one of our tasks for next meeting will be to create working groups. Would be nice to have a draft before the meeting.

Survey, research, data: (ongoing surveys of how MN is doing)

  • This feels like a lot more doing that we are able to do. Maybe we need to focus on finding the folks to gather and collect data – rather than collecting and gathering ourselves
  • ConenctMN already does this.
  • Maybe we need to be clearer about what we are doing, as opposed to what we will be getting from others.
  • Do we want to explore satisfaction measure rather than specific speed goals? As folks who measure – we all want to see the numbers but maybe the end users should be able to speak about whether their speeds meet their needs.
    • Maybe this is worth exploring – maybe there’s a partner to help.
    • A satisfaction measure is a nice addition – but not a good replacement. When we’re building infrastructure – we need to know where we’re going. We want to build on future need – not today’s need. (Just as we do with bridges.)
    • Yes – those in this game for a while have been professing the need to look at the future.
    • Realistically broadband systems last 3 years – so it’s tough to budget in a way that bridges can last for 15 years.
    • It is nice to look for trends in satisfaction.
    • But our goal is to look at speed, availability & adoption. How doe s this fit in?
    • This does fit into availability and speeds. It’s an idea that’s not totally fleshed out – but it worth considering.


VI. Discuss and Finalize Broadband Plan Outline (cont.) 12:30 – 1:30

Coordinate across government

  • No comments

Evaluate the impact of FCC actions

  • Is the intention to track FCC actions related to CAF?
  • Broader than that – but specifically the recent FCC orders. This would be done primarily by the department – that is evaluating and reporting on what’s happening.
  • The Greater MN Telehealth Initiative (ongoing for 4 years) will be participating for 3 more years and it will bring $5.4 million in reduced rates. (It’s a pilot project.) There’s another project happening in the NW corner and North Dakota. It would be nice to track what’s happening.
  • Will we have the capacity? Maybe we want to include data but not collect ourselves.
  • This does seem like this is the first step in doing our homework. So it’s a good piece to leave it. It’s very helpful in planning.
  • Tracking the impact would be good – maybe evaluating is too strong. Maybe we need to monitor and understand.
  • What’s the CAF program?
    • Connect America Fund – transition from USF to CAF
    • Isn’t anyone tracking that already?
      • The info is so new that no one knows what it will involve.
      • Maybe we want to find someone who might already been doing this (or open to doing this) and tap them?

Establish an ongoing mechanism within state government for high-speed broadband focused efforts.

  • Let’s include the support required. So that we don’t have an unfunded mandate. (Not thinking money necessarily but staff support.)

Conclusion – Includes Schemata created by 2009 Broadband Task Force in their report.

  • DO we plan to add amendments to this plan?
  • Or maybe this is an outline from which we’ll create a plan.
  • This can give the larger context in terms of road mapping – but maybe it will work better as an executive summary.

Can we get the next version of this draft by Friday noon? Then folks can look over and approve it.

VIII. Getting Info Out to Members-What and How 1:40 – 1:55 

How are things going?

  • The members seem to get info well now.
  • This meeting was exactly what was expected.

What’s the plan for the future?

  • For the next meeting we’ll need good ideas for work groups.
  • We’ll want to think of where we might want to travel.
    • Bernadine said she’d help get folks out in the communities.
    • We’ll turn the report into a spreadsheet for operations
    • Next meeting is a working planning meeting.
    • Next meeting: Feb 14 – Bloomington
      • Need capacity for conference call

VII. Additional Public Comments 1:30 – 1:40

Dave Frenkel (from satellite) – satellite is booming – especially since government is getting out of the business. Why isn’t it mentioned?

  • The satellite association has offered to talk to us – and we’ll have them in.
  • I think our plan is technology neutral
    • Yes, not it alludes to wired (with Dig once) but doesn’t talk about dish reimbursement.
    • Also no representation from industry
      • This isn’t a self-elected group
      • And Dan is from wireless, Bob is from wireless, no one from Satellite.
      • It’s important to meet with all folks from industry if we want to meet the statewide goals.

Heather Rand – with start of legislation, we may see broadband access come up. Do you intend to delve into those issues?

  • From the plan outline, I think we look forward to ideas we might put together, but might not be in the position to evaluate legislation for this year. In fact it might not be within our scope even in later years.
  • It would be nice to track legislation through this group.

IX. Other Business/Next Meeting Agenda 1:55 – 2:00

Adjourn Early (12:45)

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