Minnesota Broadband Task Force Meeting Notes: request $100 million for grants and $10 million for Office of Broadband Development

The Task Force met today to hammer out their report. The different committees had submitted their section drafts to John Dukich (from MHTA) to combined them, select recommendations to include and write portions of the report to meet the need. Today they met to modify/approve his draft in their committees then read the report together for any edits or modifications.

Then they met to discuss recommendations, including how much to request for the Office of Broadband Development budget and future grants. After much heated debate they agreed to recommend $10 million for the OBD and $100 million ($50 million per year) for grants.

The debate was about how much to request for grants. Some folks felt that with an expected dip in the State budget that $100 million would be more palatable than the $200 million request last year. Others felt that the outstanding need demanded more funding. It was surprising that many of the providers at the table were most vocal about wanting the lower amount, especially since it seems that the money would likely be invested in their industry.

Here’s the copy of the draft report; you can see video of much of the meeting below.


And here are my notes… 

Adoption & Affordability subcommittee report- pg 18

First time group pored through content. We tried to fit the narrative to recommendations.

Like chart on page 20 of projects – maybe we can add it as an appendix and add more detail. That could be a useful tool.

We heard from Colin Rhinesmith about 4 key strategies for adoption – and they are pretty universally accepted. So we’ve built the content around that strategies. We want to illustrate what MN is doing well – and then ask the legislators to support more of what we have – OBD.

Do we want to highlight the four strategies even more? We can consolidate the subcategories. And perhaps number the strategies.

We only have one recommendation in this draft – but we actually have four. Assume we’ll talk about that this afternoon.

Maybe we don’t want to move info into the appendix – it might

Question on backhaul costs – (pg 19) $.50, $1 and $10 difference in cost depending on area.

Emerging Technologies – subcommittee report pg 22

Told a story about the Internet of Things and Telemedicine. We had a recommendation – but  it’s gone in this draft:

Grant programs from OBD to promote innovation

Pg 23 – we talk about cyber security – we had 4 recommendations we just condense that into one

We also had a recommendation for better wiring in buildings (cat 6)

Accessibility subcommittee report – Pg 26

Dig Once  – text has been circulated already but added a chart. We moved from 6 recommendations to 2.

OBD – looks similar to past reports – added by John.

Tried to be as neutral as possible given different voices on the TF.

Library section  – maybe merge the content from the Adoption section into  here. The plan is to ascribe to American Library Association recommendations.

Telecommunication Access Equity Aide – plan to recommendation a specific amount.

Office of Broadband Development

Last month we heard from a coalition of 16 rural leadership organizations about the grant program and we talked about adding it to the appendix and mentioning it in the report. Should we add it to the section that John added.

We usually have a list of folks who have testified in the report – we thought we’d add it there.

Can we find an appropriate way to add that input into the report?

We have the content on the OBD – but we don’t have the impact of the new legislation yet. So while people have voiced concern, we don’t yet have the proof that their concerns are well founded.

The groups have brought us a concern. We will note it and keep an eye on their concerns.

Do we detail the OBD tasks or not?

A few folks do a lot of work. Is it valuable to let the legislators know how much they do OR is that too overwhelming?

It might be helpful to have the statute in the appendix. Also helpful to have the OBD narrative.

This isn’t really at the beginning or the end. Maybe we should lift up the topic by making it a separate section.


There’s a lot of wordsmithing discussion I’ve just tried to capture anything that was more meaning that finesse.

Change “access” to “access to broadband and the ability to use it”

Add “especially for historically disadvantaged populations” and rural areas.

Emphasize that the “demand continues to outpace the finding”

Map on Pg 7

Do we want to use a study from 1998-2002.

Do we really want the TF to take credit for closing the broadband availability gap?

Recommendations… Pg 34

The report is for the Governor and Legislators. We have includes info for others but that’s the target audience.

Originally we started with 31 recommendations – that’s too many. We need to focus on the things that the Governor and Legislators can do and items that only this Task Force can suggest.

What made the cut…

  1. Funding the border to borer grants at $__________ [need to come up with number]
  2. Stimulate public participation in existing broadband subsidy programs through OBD
  3. Establish a legislative cybersecurity commission
  4. Amend building codes to required multi-tenant housing units funded through public dollars deploy better wiring (cat 5/6 or fiber)
  5. Promote and communicate Dig Once
  6. Fund OBD for 1 FTE to deploy suggested actions
  7. Create adoption fund for OBD
  8. Monitor advance technologies with eye toward regulatory responses
  9. Fully fund Regional Library Telecom Aid

What do we want to add to the pared down list:

Increase access to good affordable computers – the state should serve a leadership role in recycling state computers through refurbishes

Support emerging technologies

Support workforce and need for knowledge workers

Comments on

Folks in business say they want more people in computer science – industry can then train in cyber security. Also in MN we don’t tell faculty what to teach.

We do see that the legislators need to learn more about cyber security.

Went with a commission because they can have closed meetings – seemed apt for cyber security.

Would cyber security be a role for OBD or DEED or MNDRive or UMN

There may be issues with offering up too many grants – the problems being that the legislators might take money from one to pay for the other. Instead we need to get the funding to OBD and let them make the informed choices.

The legislators have grant fatigue.

MAK and John will work on adding the cyber security and emerging technologies.

We need to help legislators realize that broadband is more than Netflix. Monitoring new technologies will help make that case.

Do we need to monitor TAP? Having something in the report will make it easier for testifiers to speak to it.

What are the dollar requests:

  • $10 million – Funding for OBD – asking for mapping, equity work, new initiatives spurred from recommendations
  • $100 million ($50 million a year for 2 years)

Why $100 million?

I think that will be a good place to push but be in closer alignment with the budget. The lower number might be able to morph into ongoing budget.

Don’t you think if we half the request from previous years that the legislators will read into it that the need to less?

Could we specify that we want base funding for $50 million base funding.

The request for funding should be closer to what we think we can get.

I’m not interested in a recommendation that is a sound bite for one side.

We don’t want to sound ridiculous.

We asked for $200 million

I just want to remind you that last year I made up $200 million with no research.

How likely is it to get base funding?

It’s not our job to try to be political – it’s our job to describe the need.

I don’t want to have us invest what private companies are investing – also there’s CAF money.

CAF – won’t meet the state goals.

But tell that to someone who has nothing.

We don’t need to spend more money we the money to go into the right hands.

We could wait until after the election.


The $10 million for the OBD – sound OK?

No comment

$100 million for grants – sound OK?

How about we ask for $100 million so long as we’re asking for base funding.

Now John will take these notes and any complete notes sent to him and compile the next iteration.

This entry was posted in Conferences, 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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