State Policy Makers and Doers Preview Highlights of What’s Coming and What Could Be #MNBroadband Conference

It was good to hear about State Policy. The Office of the Broadband Development was a huge accomplishment by the MN Broadband Task Force and MN Legislature. And now it serves as infrastructure to get stuff done. Some of that stuff – certainly the focus on 2014 – is funding. The OBD received 40 applications from across the state looking for broadband funding.

Moving forward the ODB will do that and more. The goal now is to find ways to leverage policy, federal funding and public-private partnerships to support broadband expansion – deployment and adoption. The Republican force in Legislature will make things different – but there’s a big focus on rural and that means rural broadband.

The Task Force will continue to make recommendations (you can get a sneak peek) and the legislature will continue to find ways to help broadband prosper.

Speakers included:

  • o Representative Ron Kresha
  • o Danna MacKenzie, Office of Broadband Development
  • o Senator Matt Schmit
  • o Paul Weirtz, AT&T
  • o Moderated by Bill Hoffman, Connect Minnesota


Why is rural broadband going into three committees?

  • It won’t get split so much as touch upon several topics such as it will touch on Commerce, Greater MN and Energy Infrastructure.

Continuing funding for broadband is a huge priority. What about using GO Bonds? That would encourage public-private partnership.

  • The State Bonding does not see fiber as long term utility. But we need to change that. It’s not eligible now but we think that will change.
  • You realize the need for State GO Bonds when you visit the State. We compete with a lot of other great projects – sewer, roads.
  • Maybe local bonding is another route. I think this will come up in Session this year.

What’s happening with FirstNet?

  • The Office of Broadband Development is working with the State and we’re focused on considering for leveraging connectivity in remote areas. The State would need to subscribe to FirstNet – rather that requiring a big investment in the build out.

Lots of counties have spent money on lawyers to try to overcome barriers in current broadband policy.

How can we change the silo funding for broadband?

  • Government is a bunch of fiefdoms. The resources are hard and people don’t want to share.
  • We created a matching grant program to prove the interest, need and good ideas. We want to improve that approach to leverage more funding.
  • We should find ways to invest. Local entities can be more creative than the State.
  • The Broadband Task Force is going to talk about silo approach to funding soon. We are looking at ways to make changes and share more.

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