Today’s Minnesota Broadband Task Force meeting was about rolling up sleeves and diving into the Task Force draft report. The final version is due in early December. The meeting wasn’t about dotting the i’s – but it was about making hard decisions – such as which recommendations to keep and which to toss. It reminded me of writing papers in college – tough to toss out a well written paragraph just because it strayed from the topic.
But some recommendations were tossed out. Some changes were made. There was a general focus on leaving a tight document that would be most effective with legislators. Some recommendation will/may be picked up in 2013.
Today’s notes include some video – which in every case would have made better audio – but it’s quicker for me to leave asis and therefore quicker for me to get online.
10:00 – 10:15 Welcome/Introductions/Approve Minutes from November 13 Meeting
10:15 – 10:30 Public Comments
Report on the Conference from Bernadine Joselyn:
Gary, Danna, Dick and Margaret did a nice job of getting feedback. We had tracks on adoption, application and connectivity. More than 200 people attended. Good connections made across projects.
We had 60 kids at the tech academy. They enjoyed the chance to learn.
People are no longer asking about what is broadband – they are asking how they can get it. That’s a nice progression over the years.
Thanks to Bill, Diane, Joanna Peter, Dennis. The timing is really important because the Gov is looking at their legislative agenda. The sooner we get info to them the better the chances of getting their attention. They want more info on tax credits on incentives for providers to build into unserved areas. Task Force gave several examples and Revenue wants to know which model would be best to emulate, who should benefit, how much money should be involved.
Peter: when we get to policy recommendations – there are some question marks that might require extra conversation. Tax policy people (Dep of Revenue) need more information to design a plan that will work.
Diving into the Draft…
- Telework – let’s add the Fergus Falls Telework Example
- Social Economic Impact
- Let’s add info on citizen engagement.
- Let’s add info on education and equal opportunity (maybe use the Connect MN e-Learning report; maybe Matt Grose comes up with something)
Where are we now?
We need to emphasize urgency and need to take action if we want to make the 2015 goals.
Can we find a way to stress that we are at 82 percent of MN households can access broadband at speeds of at least 10 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up? That’s close to the goal – but it’s not hitting the goal. [reminder the goal is 5-10 Mbps up and 10-20 Mbps down.]
The message is that we’re getting somewhere – just not all of the way.
Why do we include data on 768 Kbps? It gives credit to a speed that is just way too slow. Originally it was included because there are some references to that speed in the FCC. They are moving to more robust speeds but still require Connect MN to collect the data.
Let’s add a framing paragraph maybe with a vignette.
Lots of discussion on applications by broadband speed.
Updates on ARRA projects and others
- We need to outline the costs in building a network in the rural areas.
- We also need to note that there are projects happening without ARRA funding
- Do we need to mention the consultant working with Cloquet Valley & Kanabec?
- Let’s talk about who else needs to be part of the FirstNet discussion
- Maybe we need to add a purposeful paragraph on the role of State Government
10:30 – 12:00 Discuss and Edit Draft Report
Report to Governor by Dec 10 so all changes must be made by Dec 7
Top note to add: We are not on track – and we won’t be without a call to action.
Rep Sheldon Johnson wanted to visit the meeting – but we suggested that this might not be the best meeting since it’s a working, editing meeting. We suspect he will join us early in 2013. We will also invite the Senate Chair.
12:00 – 12:30 Lunch (working lunch if necessary)
12:30 – 1:30 Continue Discussion and Editing of Draft Report
1:30 – 1:50 Discuss 2013 Meeting Dates/Locations/Topics
Recommendations – coming back from small group discussion:
An ongoing broadband entity
- LCCMR – we liked that model
- What do we want to accomplish?
- We need a team of folks who understand this – not just a handful of legislators who are making this their issue.
People are asking – how do we know that we’re getting what we plan to buy? So let’s only leave it stuff that leads to immediate and direct change.
Do the following recommendations meet their criteria set out by Peter? Each item was put to a loose vote – here are the results:
- Increase funding to public libraries & schools (mostly positive)
- Scholarship dollars to students to tutor for broadband funding (luke warm)
- Expand ed credit to pay for broadband (luke warm)
- Discussion: Let’s not include because we can’t track who has added connection because of the credit and who is just getting a credit on an existing connection
- Tax credits for broadband providers to go to unserved areas (winner!)
- Discussion: we need to pick a single model for Dep of Revenue to flesh out. How about Wisconsin?
- Sales tax credit for fiber/broadband equipment (winner!)
- Coordinate rural broadband installation with state and federal programs assisting hospitals, libraries et al (less than luke warm)
- Discussion: maybe we could suggest that we seek federal funds here – keep the state budget out of it. Maybe the ongoing entity could take this on.
- Dig once proposal – but question, do we need staff coordinator (mostly positive)
- Discussion The state may install conduit and ask the providers to rent space from the State. The idea started strong but is losing momentum. The only cost is coordination. Let’s make is provider – not just “private” providers.
- Develop MN fiber database (winner)
- Incentives for rural sites that collaborate on broadband projects (mixed)
- Discussion: Hold to 2013
- Facilitate public/private partnerships for free/discounted computers (no)
- Discussion: Include somewhere in the report – but not in recommendations.
- Consider public-private partnerships for funding for tech training, production and adoption (luke warm – maybe we need more info)
- Discussion: hold
- Establish an ongoing broadband entity (mostly positive)
There is another sub-cabinet meeting next week. We can have the members look health & transportation will also be there.
- Need US comparisons
- Remote isn’t an issue population density is an issue; that has a greater impact on cost
1:50 – 2:00 Other Business/Adjourn
January date: January 29
Maybe a strategic planning meeting? Maybe here from someone at budget? How about legislators (Sen Sparks & Rep Johnson)?