Minnesota Broadband Task Force November meeting: Full Notes

This is a busy week. The Task Force just met; the broadband conference is beginning. So I’m going to ask indulgences from readers. I am going to work hard to get the info up asap – but that might mean typos and less framing of topics – but you’ll get the info quickly.

•10:00 – 10:15 Welcome/Introductions/Approve Minutes from October 16 Meeting

 •10:15 – 10:30 Public Comments- captured in video:

(Sadly the video of Ann Higgins did not work out. She spoke up for considering the role and impact on local government. Also I know quality of video is not stella – sorry!)

•10:30 – 11:15 Diane Smith, MobileFuture—Presentation and Q&A

Mobile Future

  • US leads the world in mobile broadband – 4 GLTE
  • Wireless traffic is expected to grow 21x from 2010 to 2015
  • 34% US use a tablet
  • Spectrum makes wireless work
  • $322 billion is invested in wireless networks in US
  • GDP increase is 10 to 1 for wireless investment
  • We don’t have enough spectrum
  • Netflix chews up one third of spectrum
  • We need to deploy new spectrum
  • Demand is about to outstrip supply
  • App
    • Apple App get 47,000 app downloads each minute
    • Droid 127% increase since Aug 2010
    • 26 photos uploaded to Instragram each second
    • There’s a shift from bricks and mortar model
    • Entrepreneurs need money, brains, and broadband
      • they need healthcare – 80% of doctors use apps
      • they need education – e-learning
      • We need to support national goals for wireless access
      • We need to free up more spectrum
      • US size is a challenge

Mobilefuture.org – year in review video is suggested watching.


Do you have policy suggestions to help us meet the state goals?

Seems like MN is not doing badly. Speed is key. Governments are not known for speed. Private industry seems to want to go faster; government regulation seems to slow things down.

How do you choose between wireless and fiber?

There’s last mile, middle mile and backbone. We need to invest in all. Google Data Centers are a rural myth. Sometimes you need private entities to put up public wifi. (Think wifi in coffee shops.)

As a Task Force – we want to get policy makers to think of wireless of broadband.

•11:20 – 11:50 First subgroup breakout time


 ◦Best Practices/Incentives (Notes from this session below)

Incentive: Education Tax Credit for Broadband (SF 979/HF 1237 in 2010) Expand the current list of education tax credits to include monthly broadband services. Currently MN taxpayers can receive a credit of up to $1500 for education related expenses.

  • Cost: $25.6M in FY14-15
  • Desired Outcome: Adoption
  • Measurement: Number of Households using credit
  • Discussion: The idea is to include broadband as an education credit-worthy ticket item. There currently isn’t a cap on the tax credits. It appears as if folks are moving to into expanding tax credits. This might not be the policy that will help spur deployment or adoption.
  • Can we find out how much money has been spent in the past, compared to how much is available – or maybe how the expenditure has increased over time.
  • In 20120, about 55,000 taxpayers claimed the education credit.
  • It was estimated that 43% of those taxpayers have broadband services at home, from the percentage of low-income households with broadband access in “Exploring the Digital Nation: Computer and Internet at Home”Home”, a 2011 report by the US Department of Commerce

Incentive: Increase funding to public libraries and schools for computer stations and Internet access to address what can be a primary access point for “digitally disadvantaged”

  • Cost: $4M for FY 14-15; estimated $37.50/hr x 10 hours/week = $19,500/yr + $1000 per new computer 100 libraries = $1.95M to operate plus $100,000 in computers
  • Desired Outcome: Adoption
  • Measurement: Number of additional computer stations and hours of operation. Number of people using computers.
  • Discussion: Library – comments – impact 100 libraries, could target different areas. This is a gap filler for folks who can’t get broadband at home. Is there a way to focus this to unserved areas? There are libraries that serve low income areas. Get libraries per capita stats and usage. Be nice to link higher ed into the program too, perhaps with student tech coaches.

Incentive: Award scholarship dollars for broadband access for students

  • Cost: $8400,000 in FY14-15; $35/mo or $420 per year x number of students for scholarships = $420,000
  • Desired outcome: Adoption
  • Measurement: Number of scholarships awarded
  • Discussion: Maybe a better option is “Award scholarship dollars for the broadband access for students” –

Incentive: Extend the central office equipment exemption to the purchase of fiber optics and broadband equipment

  • Cost: $4.97M in FY14-15
  • Desired outcome: Access
  • Measurement: Number of additional households served as a result
  • Discussion: Extend the central office equipment exemption to the purchase of fiber optics – so we’ve learned that $1 in public investment reaps something like $12-13.

Incentive: Implement a formal process to coordinate highway construction projects and broadband deployment

  • Cost: $250,00 in FY14-15
  • Desired Outcomes: Access
  • Measurement: Additional houses and businesses served

Incentive: The Fiber Collaboration Database allows broadband providers to view upcoming construction projects (like California Fiber Collaboration Database)

  • Cost: $120,000 in FY14-15
  • Desired Outcome: Access
  • Measurement: Additional households and businesses served

Incentive: Tax credit or grant to incent broadband providers to build in unserved areas. (examples include Mississippi BB tech tax credit, Idaho matching grant and Wisconsin sales tax.)

  • Cost: Not yet prices by Dep of Revenue
  • Desired Outcome: Access
  • Measurement: Additional households and businesses served
  • Discussion: Revenue – looked at the other state programs but each program targets a specific goal – so the department is taking longer to look at it. Idaho is matching for example. It might be helpful to offer one example.

Incentive: Coordinate rural broadband installation with State and Federal programs assisting hospitals, schools, libraries, public safety in obtaining broadband.

  • Cost: $250,000 in FY14-15
  • Desired Outcome: Access & Adoption
  • Measurement: Leverage of federal funds; Additional households and businesses served
  • Discussion: Coordinate rural broadband installation – might be nice to include that in a broadband office. It’s an efficiency issue. It speeds projects

Incentive: Provide grants for rural sites that collaborate together for broadband projects, telehealth services, interoperability and info exchange

  • Cost: Greater MN Telehealth / E-health Broadband initiative: $5.4M
  • Desired Outcome: Access & Adoption
  • Measurement: Number of patients impacted Number of clinics able to provide TElehealth services, interoperability and info exchange.
  • Discussion: Provide rural grants – seems like there must be federal money to seek on this. We’ll ned an estimate of cost. The FCC kicked in $5.4 for rural health from universal services. There’s also a CMS pot of money for info exchange purpose. This is important but we need to maximize other dollars. There might also be money on public safety.

Incentive: Facilitate public/private partnership programs designed to deliver free or discounted computers to disadvantaged K12 children in MN

  • Cost:
  • Desired Outcome: Adoption
  • Measurement: Number of households that gain computers and/or who adoption Internet
  • Discussion: Public-Private Partnership for computers to schools/low-income – maybe ned to hire a person to coordinate it. It might fall into the ongoing office pool.

Incentive: Encourage the legislature to consider public/private partnership models to make funding available for tech training, production and adoption in communities at the margins of society

  • Cost: Washington DC digital inclusion grant program $4.2M
  • Desired Outcome: Adoption
  • Measurement: Number of individuals trained
  • Discussion: Public-Private Partnership for tech training – There are nonprofits that are doing this. Is it worth keeping on the list? There may be federal dollars.

Incentive: Establishment of an ongoing, post-Task Force mechanism within state government for high-speed broadband focused efforts as a future recommendation

  • Cost: $350,000-$750,000 in FY14-15
  • Desired Outcome: Monitor the progress toward achieving broadband goals
  • measurement: Progress toward achieving broadband goals
  • Discussion: Establish an ongoing post-task force mechanism – The subcabinet was excited about having an ongoing home for broadband at the state – especially one that had buy in from the legislature. We need advice on how this has been done for similar needs. Entity might live in Commerce. The task force could make a recommendation – the admin is looking for task force to make recommendations. We could offer some suggestions. Alternatives: broadened assessment from broadband providers or general fund. But federal policy has an impact on what we can do to fund through state level. 911 collects from all of those entities – so it seems like we could do it. Need to make sure we get fixed wireless in. We could offer either/or. We need to make sure all providers pick up the tab.
  • PUC talked about how they will fund things.

Other notes:

  • We need to prioritize our list for the legislature. There is only so much money. We don’t want them to lose focus.
  • Might be nice to include a section on going after federal dollars. We need to be direct.
  • Might be nice to have general goals on federal policy too – maybe not for this report but for next.
  • Dig Once – cost is small. Simple idea. It’s an efficiency. This would mean enabling legislature. The governor’s office likes this idea. It’s a great way to get that DOT engaged.

Fiber Collection Database – it’s another efficiency and opportunity to streamline government efforts

•12:00 – 12:30 Second subgroup breakout time and working lunch ◦Coordination Across Government Levels

◦Wireless Broadband

•12:30 – 1:00 Third subgroup breakout time ◦Monitor/Understand Impact of FCC & PUC Decisions; Cost of Broadband

◦Broadband Adoption

•1:00 – 1:45 Full Task Force Meeting Time – Discuss outstanding issues for December report: ◦Action plan for 2013 (locations, focus areas, reorganize subgroups)

◦Policy recommendations in light of MN Department of Revenue estimates

◦Entity to carry on work


The Incentive group worked on the recommendations. We may create a dashboard that prioritizes the recommendations. finish the narrative and share.

Outline of Dec 2012 report:

Gets at the idea integrating subgroups’ work.

Diane, Bill & Johanna will be working on the report. Commerce will help us.

Locations Notes:

We want to scale back mission to have 50/50 split of metro/rural. We assume we’ll meet 11 times in 2013. We thought 4 outstate venues would be good. Looking for communities that will be partners – where we might have good interaction with the local folks. Want to pick venues that is comfortable for everyone. We’ll continue to move forward. Blandin is announcing 9 new communities; that may provide a rich field from which to choose. Windom is another good place to visit. Ignite is talking about a big conference in Red Wing second quarter of 2013. Iron Range would be good  – possibly partnering with IRRR. Emerge in NE Minneapolis might be a good place to visit. Science Museum might be another option.

Entity to carry on the work for the Task Force: Office of Broadband.

  • Are there certain types of things in staffing that would be useful? If we could model out what our policy options could do – that would be nice. (Modelling Modelers from health care and renewable energy marketplace.)
  • Seems like some of the data Jack Geller provided would be nice. Survey data is always valuable.
  • Nice to engage other entities in the process. (Local governments, foundations…)
  • Might be interesting to look at LCCMR model. Might be nice to have an office inside and advisory committee.
  • We will send out some models for folks to consider.

•1:45 – 2:00 Other business/Upcoming meetings/Adjourn

Upcoming meeting: November 27 – Bloomington

  • This will be for final input before the report gets launched.
  • Please get us ideas in the next week

Session move onto Broadband Conference…

This entry was posted in Minnesota Advisory Task Force, MN, Policy 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.

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