Minnesota Broadband Task Force: Planning for 2016 & visits from legislators

The big news of the day was the release of the latest Minnesota Broadband Task Force report. They have recommended $100 million for broadband funding and speed goals of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up by 2022 and 100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up by 2026.

Most of the meeting was spent making plans for 2016. The groups has segmented into three subgroups:

  • Affordability.
  • Emerging technology and issues (such as cyber security)
  • Accessibility

At the end of the meeting they heard from Senator Schmit, Representative Kresha and Representative Johnson. All are broadband proponents. Schmit is focused on funding the fund – maximizing the amount spent on broadband grants to $100 million. Kresha is interested in spending more money than last year (he has already proposed $35 million) but is really focused on telecom regulations. Johnson seemed surprised at the low speed recommendations. He also supports funding for broadband and looking at how to use state funding to leverage federal (CAF 2) funding.

Here are the full notes:

Feb 3, 2016

Introductions –

Meeting Minutes approved –

Office of Broadband Development Update

Ryan is working to create community profiles and maps that will track a number of details related to broadband access.

First round grants are under way 4 out of 17 are nearing completion. Getting requrest for reimbursement for installations. OBD is getting great stories from the field.

Work must be completed by June 2017.

OBD is working on their annual report that will augment what the Task Force has done. And we are hoping to have final details on the next round of funding.

Upcoming conference – Feb 18 at 317 downtown St Paul

Rep Kresha and Baker have introduced legislation that includes a budget of $35 million for broadband.

Sales tax legislation has been introduced.

Discussing Plans for 2016

Here are topics that were left hanging last year that we wanted to focus on this year:

  • Affordability.
  • Emerging technology and issues (such as cyber security)
  • Accessibility (How to build a better operating fund?)

The idea is to create committees that focus on these issues and make recommendations for the next report.

Are other any other issues?

  • What about gig networks? What would it take to incent gig networks in Minnesota?
  • The Task Force should do a tech tour – maybe see a central office of CenturyLink or something like that.
  • Maybe talk to futurists (Comscope)
  • Talk to the new Humphrey (U of M) cyber security guy or the Dorsey Whitney lawyer
  • CAF 2 implications and how can we leverage federal funding
  • Homeland security could talk about connection between commercial and residential security
  • Talk to k12 gaps
  • Access and affordability in public housing
  • Dig Once

What should we do over the next three meetings?

  • March 17- access in public housing
  • April 14 – cyber security
  • March 24 – emerging technologies for consumers (maybe Comspoke)
  • June 15 – broadband fund
  • July 6 –
  • Aug – adorability
  • Sep – streamlining state regulation

We have contacted Farmfest about broadband – but haven’t heard back. Does it make sense to hold a meeting there or just invite task force members to attend?

Maybe in 2017 we could talk about having something at the State Fair.

Other meeting locations:

  • West Central in Sebeka
  • Nice to have Blandin Conference to coincide
  • Broadband Communities may host meeting in MN in October (Maybe Oct 17-)


Task Force members were asked to join at least one of the following committees:

  • Affordability.
  • Emerging technology and issues (such as cyber security)
  • Accessibility (How to build a better operating fund?)


We should be asking whose voice is missing when we are in committees – just because a member doesn’t belong to a committee doesn’t mean they aren’t there to be helpful and/or that they shouldn’t be heard.

It would be nice to see content come out of committees


I stayed around for Emerging technology and issues

Kevin is Chair

What topics should we explore?

  • Business / consumer / government
  • Gig networks
  • Cyber security
    • For small business, large business, governments
    • Is this a topic that people are more comfortable talking about security?
    • Maybe we can get someone from Comcast
    • Vantage Point in SD might be helpful
    • Maybe interesting to talk about large business
    • Some people don’t adopt because they are afraid of them – might be helpful to talk about tips for users.
  • How does broadband change daily life (telehealth, telework)
  • Get people to tell stories – can we get people to help tell the local stories?
  • How about future issues? Maybe a tour of facilities (Comscope)
  • Internet of Things
  • Often innovation starts with academia – it would be nice to push economic drivers too
  • Maybe get info from Techstar – they provide mentors and cash to businesses
  • Maybe get someone from MNSCU, from the U of M


Emerging Technologies – Kevin is Chair

  • Trying to find a way to get people to understand the benefits of big broadband. We plan to create a list of cool things. (Maybe some to show live.)
  • Focused on cyber security. We want to focus on different areas: network, consumer issues, government issues, large business and small business. We thought about guest speakers. We want to think about how much security may be a barrier for adoption.

Adoption and Affordability – Shannon is Chair

  • Plan to look at what’s available.
  • What groups aren’t adopting and why? (Rural, low-income, seniors minority, tribal…)

Accessibility – Don is Chair

  • Dig once – plan to ID opportunities to better coordinate
  • Regulatory reform – goal is to monitor what other states are doing, talk about CAF 2, try to maintain neutrality
  • Funding for OBD – operating funds and fund projects
  • Library issues and issues of accessibility
  • Look at mapping and dig into the data

Questions – did you talk about public-private partnerships and trying to work with CAF 2 recipients?

Also looked at utility relocation regulations – maybe partner there is minimize costs and maximize


  • Allison Jones from Governor Dayton’s Office
  • Representation Ron Kresha
  • Representative Sheldon Johnson
  • Senator Matt Schmit

What drives you to work on the issue?

MS – Hope we can build upon progress. I have heard from lots of folks who have funding and some who want it. Broadband is the great equalizer in today’s economy. This sessions we’re talking about disparities – broadband investment can reduce the gap. We can get lost in the technologies but the goal is really helping people use broadband tools – telehealth, remote learning and economic development. In Red Wing we’ve seen business grow through connectivity.

SJ – I believe everyone in Minnesota needs to be strong – despite my urban location. Affordability is an issue with my location constituents.

RK – I was a small town language arts teacher. We had limited access (dialup in 1994) but it opened doors. Then I moved into technology and did whatever I could to get better broadband. I started an internet-based business. For Millenniums this is their frontier to grow and flourish. We need to open connectivity to wireless and satellite.

AJ – We see broadband as a key component of a state that works for everyone everywhere. This sessions we want to make sure that location is no longer a barrier to services. Rural MN needs the same opportunities as urban MN

What are the obstacles and opportunities?

AJ – The Governor has proposed $100 million. We have a $1.2 billion surplus – broadband is an opportunity to make a unique investment. The challenge is to see what other offers come up. The short session will make it tough.

RK –We have suggested $35 million – we know it’s low, we think the number will go up and down. We need to look at telecom reform. We don’t want the number to get in the way of reform. We have two reform bills on the table now. We have agreement on those. We need to push through the MTA bill – then look at the number. We have Senators who are at 0 and we have some at $100 million. Telecom is important to House Republicans. We need reform for innovation. We can’t get in the way of the providers.

SJ – The folks who are interested are collaborative. CAF and broadband funding is a challenge – how do we mesh those and what will it mean in respect to broadband. How can we use the state funding to make CAF projects better? I have a bill for $100 million. Speed goals will be a challenge. 25/3 – maybe we could kick it up. Some people want 100/100. Getting connectivity to anchor tenants is a big deal. Affordability is a big deal too. Labor costs is an issue – what is fair and reasonable for rural projects. Definition of underserved and unserved will be an issue. Home broadband adoption (Pew report) versus mobile access will come up. Omnibus tax bill – should telecom sales tax increase? Reform of telecom structure is another topic.

MS – Time is a big challenges. The opportunity is the surplus. The cost to meet speed goals is something like $3 billion – one time government investment would help leverage more funding. We need to fund the fund – that should be a primary focus. IN 2014 we talked a lot about other issues but this year we need to fund the fund. We need the right policy in place. How can we get the most out of out money? How can we use state funding to get CAF funding to do more. We need to battle misinformation. The funding is technology neutral. Lack of ROI was a huge issues in listening sessions a few years ago – the fund intends to help shore up expenses.


Libraries already have access at 100/100 levels. The 25/3 (by 2022) access focused on homes and businesses. We have heard from providers that they will extend beyond the required CAF speeds.

We also have a stretch goal of 100/20 by 2026.

We looked at asymmetrical connectivity but found that most people want more download.

The Task Force report is 2026

The National Broadband Plan looks for 100/50. We heard from OBD said just this morning about an entrepreneur in rural MN who relies on asymmetrical speeds. Upload speeds are meaningful for economic development.

The Governor want the state to work for everyone everywhere – that means symmetrical.

We need the state to jumpstart broadband where it is stagnated – like the ARRA funding did. We need the $100 million funding.


We are looking at this issue in the future but wanted to mention it now.

OBD is putting information together since it’s a topics that coming up at federal level. We want to look at what happens with new public housing – are they taking broadband into consideration?


RK – We have some groups who are pushing broadband and LGA(?). We need to be able to step out beyond numbers. Everything is going to be under scrutiny in an election year. Sunshine (transparency) is a good tool. People are talking about the issue – that’s a good sign. Maybe we can get the AG to stand down in terms of the telecom reform.

SJ – I read these reports and fund them useful. The work that Danna has done is also valuable. I look forward to working with everyone. I’m sure we’ll be recommending a higher number but we’ll move the forward together.

AJ – Last session the Gov had concerns with the telecom reform proposed legislation last year. But it sounds like providers have been working with consumer groups. I haven’t seen propose legislation this year.

MS – We have an opportunity to do something important. We can fund the fund. We can also look at reform – like Dig Once and devices. We need to focus on the prize of investment.

AJ We’d like to work with everyone on this issue.

Next meeting – March 17

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