MN Broadband Task Force meeting: Full Notes on 2013 Report

The Task Force met yesterday. I think it’s the final meeting before their report is complete so it was a heads down meeting on what to include in the report. There was a lot of feedback on the penultimate version and the discussion was lively.

There were a couple drafts and documents used to try to guide the discussion:

The most exciting news – with the budget surplus announced last month, there is an opportunity to request funding and the group talked about requesting it foe broadband deployment. Some big numbers were tossed around but nothing set in stone.

Also it seems like the agenda is already being set for the Task Force for 2014 to talk about advanced networks, increased speed goals and opportunities.

Read on for full notes…

Danna MacKenzie, new director of Office of Broadband comments

  • Hope to provide monthly updates
  • OBD report due Jan 15; it parallels the Task Force report
  • Jan 22 – Economic Summit; there will be a broadband panel.
  • Going to present at the Digital Literacy Summit on Jan 17

Task Force Discussion…

Big issues:

  • Referendum
  • Using wireless data (How much of MN is served depends on whether you count wireless)
  • And several smaller

We may have to vote. We will want a ratifying vote.

From now on – can I ask participants to really pay attention throughout the year; work in the last 8 weeks is difficult? We need to find a way to work together.

On with the report…

Top of Page 4

Page 5 – everyone checks their name

  • A proposal to put in how we rank internationally in the summary. That is part of the broadband law.
  • We want to demonstrate the fact that not much progress is being made countrywide.
  • The problem is the tone.
  • We need to make sure we have the latest, best data. If we cite Bloomberg News, we’ll need the reference.
  • This could fit on page 18
    • We need to rewrite the text so that it captures the idea that in some places broadband is subsidized by the government.
    • We don’t want to offer a point of view.
    • We could showcase the different ways of doing things without
    • There isn’t a good measurement tool

Page 6 –

We’ve moved our list of meetings to the back of the report. We start with discussion of 2013 legislative activities.

Page 9 – wireless discussion

We need to add language that addresses wireless. We want to let people know that wireless accounts for meeting the needs of 3 percent of the state. But also need to add issues such as data caps. And let people know that the Task Force plans to continue to look at wireless.

The Task Force can re-address the speed issues later. There are some concerns with things like naming Google Fiber when that’s not happening in Minnesota now. Maybe the TF could add something like…

  • While the 10-20 Mbps goal continues to be a challenge statewide, there is increased need to create and implement strategies that will stimulate more advanced networks in targeted areas.

There are some issues with the idea of targeted areas. The intention is to indicate that Minnesota is not competitive. Not to indicate that we want to redline or highlight certain areas. Some folks are hesitant to use the term advanced network because the Task Force hasn’t even discussed advanced networks. It’s something that the Task Force can look at in the future

But could add…

  • Systematic broadband adoption and utilization efforts would have significant ROI for the State of Minnesota – for low-income populations, for small and medium-size businesses and for our largest education, health care and government institutions.  By increasing the sophistication of use by the whole spectrum of users, Minnesota will have higher incomes, thriving businesses and innovative delivery of critical services.  Especially in rural areas, efforts must be made to make access to training, coaching and people-oriented tech networking more accessible and commonplace.

We talk about the minimum a lot but we don’t talk about aspirational goals.

We started out being technology agnostic and suddenly we’re assaulting wireless technology.

Pages 14-15

We can use the wireless paragraph here again.

Page 10

We just need to mention new maps that break out who gets what sort of service.

Pages 11-15 are maps

Page 16

The report is a shift from focusing on wired-only to including wireless.

Does the Task Force report need to address the difference between advertised speeds and delivered speeds? It might be out of scope as a consumer protection issue. Maybe we can study it in the next year. Maybe it’s an Attorney General issue. We do want policymakers to understand the difference between advertised and experienced speeds.

Connect MN maps are actual – as the providers report in and as is spot checked.

FCC report recently released report comparing experienced and advertised speeds – and the numbers were close.

Maybe the report could add something like…

  • The Task Force heard through public testimony that advertised speeds are not always available in practice.

Or talk about the factors that go into speeds.

We need to convey seriousness and urgency and it needs to be factual.

Many of the changes were suggested to bring the tone in line with that sense of urgency.

Page 19, Page 20 – no substantial changes

Page 21 –

Inserted pricing information to include mobile in the pricing.

We want to point out that Minnesota is bigger than New Hampshire

Page 22 –

Added citations to footnotes.

We need up-to-date data.


There are a number of items that we talked about that are more instructive for OBD than info for Legislature. We have no authority to direct the OBD – but we can send a letter. That might be a better way to convey information rather than include some of these things in the report.

Any place where we say “direct the OBD” we can move it to a letter to DEED

We need to let Legislators know that just because we set goals 4 years ago that doesn’t mean they are still adequate. We need to look into it. We need to reflect what we have heard across the state that the speeds aren’t adequate – but at this point we’re just saying that we need to look into it.

But this is a case where the problem is that this idea has come too late. Maybe we can address it in a letter to DEED at this point. They need more definition and direction.

We held many phone calls to talk about recommendations – now changes to recommendations come out. That is disrespectful of the process. These are things we need to think about – not just throw them in.

Maybe next year we can look at what other states are doing. And that will help inform the suggestion that the legislators look at speeds.

Maybe we can add a section that highlights areas of importance that we will be looking at in 2014 – including state speed goals. And we could include advance networks

Now that we know there’s a surplus…

We can ask for everything we want. It’s the last shot before we get to the 2015 goal.

  • Sales tax is an issue for several people
  • Mapping is another item
  • Reaching unserved populations

About budget surplus –

Pg 46 –

Leverage economic tools – there are existing items and perhaps we could create a fund.

Do we want to reorder items?

  • Legislators will assume priority in primacy
  • We want to lead with the most important
  • We should at least start with items upon which we have agreement
  • We talked about this – the governor has come out for reinstating the sales tax exemption. We should back him up.
  • We have two lists already – the most important and the others.
  • Instead of saying
  • We should respect how the recommendations were create in the recommendations small group
  • There will not be total agreement on the recommendations

Discussion on Broadband Fund:

  • What if we start with a statement saying that we have equally weighted the recommendations
  • We need a dollar amount for recommendations when we can add it
  • We don’t want this to be linked up with bonding bill
  • How much for the Broadband fund?
  • It should be a matched program
  • But once you put a number out there you get asked – based on what?
  • But that’s part of what the OBD will do
  • We could take a percentage of the ARRA
  • How much? Well take the number of unserved households (62,000), and add a number that makes it attractive for a provider to offer services. Is that $5200 per house, $2000, $10,000?
  • Money denotes urgency at the Capitol!
  • So should we say $150 million – we could get the DEED folks to come up with a number?
  • This is for unserved areas
  • Its’ going to be a competitive program- OBD can come up with this. DEED has a team that works on things like this in different industries.
  • MVTV is working on wireless in rural areas

So we’re going to add 5 bullet points and explain that these are imperative recommendations to get to the stat goals.

Do we want to talk about Super Majority Legislation?

  • Maybe we can take this out of the report today and add it to our to-do list for 2014
  • Telecom legislation is outdated
  • We can’t sweat about a lot of the language – it’ll be changed later

What about funds for low income

  • I think this it poor public policy because it’s not the right way for the state to respond to the needs of the people. It has to do with social contract. This shouldn’t be addressed by charity – it should be addressed by society. It’s diversionary. It’s a lot of work to maintain. It’s a feel good thing but not an effective way to create change.
  • But we’re talking about affordability here not availability
  • We can’t use philanthropy for something that should be a civil right.
  • Sustainability is an issue too.
  • We have a telephone assistance fund; it was a benefit to everyone for everyone to have a phone. We have the same for heat. For utilities it has been done.
  • We have research that indicates that after subsidized service people do continue on with broadband – so this would be a way to get them using.
  • Affordability is a barrier for adoption – this addresses it.
  • We want to make sure that we make the point that this is a public issue – not philanthropic
  • We are asking for a feasibility study

Some recommendations will be posted in a letter rather than in the report.

Pg 46 – are we looking at 1 or 2 years of funding for Connect MN

  • The FCC is going to take this over and we want to make sure that the Connect MN maps gel with FCC maps.
  • But we might as well leave it in – because if they want to build it into a base. It is informative as well as a real request.
  • Are we shooting high and hoping to get less.

We have not had time to do dates for future meetings. We are thinking about video conferencing more. Then we can meet monthly but not always in person. We’ve had a lot of discussion on advanced network. Maybe we could do field tours to see a Central Office et al.

As always, the video is terrible but I thought the audio was worth keeping. It’s a discussion on wireless and speed goals.

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 (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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